The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) Poster

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The Desolation of Culture
Robert Dawson26 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this film for entertainment. I had no expectations. I don't mind if a director deviates from their source material, provided that the film works. However, I felt, as I watched, as if someone was patting my back, and picking my pockets.

There are some beautiful scenes: butterflies flying from the treetops of Mirkwood, Smaug gradually revealing himself, etc. Nevertheless, the visual virtuosity is wasted, because the scenes have no emotional impact. The characters are undeveloped, and barely interact with each other. There is no tension, no texture, no warmth. The story feels as fake as the over-the-top special effects.

The screenplay is insultingly bad by any standard. If you consider that it was adapted from the masterpiece of a world-class philologist, it's a crime against culture.

If I had to summarize the film, I would call it a juvenile, tasteless, video game-like action sequence. Take the barrel riders scene. A dwarf rolls along the shore in a barrel, knocking orcs off the screen, exactly like in the Donkey Kong Country games. Meanwhile, Legolas and Tauriel, in god mode, with unlimited arrows, and a perfect aim, are slaughtering hundreds of orcs. I felt my brain cells dying as I watched.

In conclusion, I left the theatre feeling violated. The film, to an even greater extent than its predecessor, embraces three things I despise about Hollywood: catering to the lowest common denominator, showcasing special effects at the expense of storytelling, and blatantly treating filmmaking as a business rather than as high art.
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Decent fantasy-action slightly inspired by The Hobbit
tlotr_tloz12 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Most reviews will tell you what's so great about this movie and why it's worth watching, but I figured you should hear the other side of the story.

First of all a small note for Tolkien fans. If you thought An Unexpected Journey strayed a bit too far from the book: The Desolation of Smaug looks like the script writers didn't even know there was a book. The movie tries hard to change the story wherever it can, reducing fan-favorite chapters to 5 minute scenes and writing new content that feels out of place.

But it's not only bad if you've read the book. I really wonder what the target audience is, because it feels like it's written for 15 year old boys. There are random action scenes every 10 minutes and 'funny' decapitations every 30. The worst thing here is that the action comes at the cost of character development. You have a band of 13 Dwarfs and a Hobbit, yet you rarely see them interact.

Now I like Elves more than Dwarfs, so I didn't mind seeing so much of them in this movie. But having them show up in every place to save the day feels wrong. Perhaps Peter Jackson thought his cast of Dwarfs wasn't good enough to create an enjoyable movie? Gandalf's scenes in Dol Guldur were an interesting addition in concept, but they are just too slow. I feel his scenes mostly serve as an attempt to raise The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings' level of epicness. And that just doesn't work.

The story is full of illogicalities. How does entering the mountain to steal the Arkenstone to unite the Dwarfs to kill the Dragon to enter the mountain work exactly?? And remember that heartwarming last scene of An Unexpected Journey, where Thorin finally accepts Bilbo? Well, that's all gone again. Even though he keeps outsmarting all the Dwarfs, Bilbo is back to being an unappreciated 5th wheel of the party. And did the writers really think viewers would be so desperate for a love story that they'd enjoy an Elf and a Dwarf flirting it up? Their scenes feel forced and are painful to watch.

Martin Freeman's acting is top notch again, but sadly he hardly gets any screen time. He only shines in his scene with Smaug. Now Smaug as a character is awesome, no complaints there. Yet most of his scenes are way too dragged out. There's a 20 minute scene with the Dwarfs running around thinking they can defeat him. Only at that point the movie already hinted at the only possible way of defeating him. Perhaps the worst aspect is that these scenes make Smaug look like an unintelligent creature. Dwarfs luring a Dragon around by going "Nana-nanana you can't catch me!" is not only silly and cliché, it's an insult to Smaug's character.

Final complaint: the whole movie builds up to a scene.... that's apparently going to be the opening scene of movie 3. Nobody in the cinema was sure if the movie had ended, or there was just an awkwardly long pause when the screen went black.

A movie like this you'll want to see, no matter how good or bad it is. You can't miss out on such a huge release, especially when it looks gorgeous in HFR 3D. But where I watched each Lord of the Rings movie 3 times in cinema, watching The Desolation of Smaug just once was enough for me.

In the end, most problems of the movie seem to stem from the decision to turn the cute Hobbit tale into three epic movies that have to live up to the Lord of the Rings hype. It doesn't work.
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The word you're looking for is "reimagining"
H K Fauskanger11 December 2013
I won't "review" the content of the movie in any detail, but provide some thoughts about how this film should be approached. I consider myself a Tolkienist (in fact I saw this movie on opening night because I secured a promotion deal with the local cinema: I spent four hours until midnight writing people's names in Elvish writing!) It is to be expected that many fans of of the original book will perceive this movie as a bloated, garbled monster version of the written story they loved. It is important to realize, before going in, that this is not simply "the movie of the book". This is Jackson's The Hobbit, not Tolkien's, and they are best appreciated as independent works. They represent different media, come from different centuries, and have partly different target audiences. The children's book was written before Tolkien had any idea of the grand trilogy to follow; Jackson had already produced his Lord of the Rings trilogy and somewhat understandably tries to make the prequels resemble it, in tone and scope.

One could argue that Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, when complete, will set up the LotR film trilogy far better than Tolkien's simple children's book sets up the literary LotR. (The change in tone from children's book to grand epic is VERY pronounced, even grating for those who try to read The Hobbit after finishing LotR.) Incidentally, Jackson's prequel trilogy apparently will not spoil the LotR trilogy the way the Star Wars prequels give away important plot points of the original movies. When finished, Jackson's six Middle-earth movies can be profitably watched in sequence of internal chronology.

To be sure, Jackson's Hobbit trilogy is "based on" the 1930s children's book in the sense that the characters have the same names and visit much the same places in somewhat the same order (though new characters and places are also added). Their basic motivations are also the same. But beyond that, one should not expect much "fidelity". There is hardly anything that isn't greatly embellished and vastly elaborated, mostly so as to allow for a FAR darker tone and MUCH more fantasy action (i.e., fights). The spiders of Mirkwood here approach actual horror, as compared to their rather more children-friendly literary counterparts (where we have Bilbo insulting them with silly "Attercop" rhymes).

The wizards' conflict with the Necromancer of Dol Guldur, which in the book happens entirely "offscreen" and is just briefly alluded to when Gandalf has returned near the end, is here actually shown. This is understandable; Gandalf would otherwise be completely absent for much of this movie. Also, Jackson's audience will already know that this is the start of the war with Sauron, and the all-important Dark Lord could not well be ignored. Tolkien in his letters noted how Sauron casts just "a fleeting shadow" over the pages of The Hobbit; in Jackson's movie the shadow is darker and deeper.

Entire new subplots are freely created and added to the story. The Elf Tauriel and her unlikely infatuation with one of the Dwarfs is clearly meant to add a love story where the book has none, and have at least ONE strong female character (no concern of Tolkien's when he wrote a story for children in the 1930s).

The continued survival of ALL the protagonists despite their endless brushes with death doesn't just strain credibility -- it utterly and completely banishes and eliminates credibility. We are left with FANTASY action in the truest sense, to be enjoyed for choreography, not plausibility. If cats have nine lives, a Jacksonian Dwarf clearly enjoys a three-digit number of lives.

So, viewed as an independent work, is this a good movie? Technically it is nothing short of brilliant, full of detail that can only be appreciated on the big screen. Smaug is, hands down, the best-designed movie dragon the world has yet seen. If I were a teenager instead of a ripe old 42, this wealth of fantasy action would probably have exited me no end. It is nice to see Legolas again, even if he is not in the book. I liked the sequences with the amorphous Sauron. Poor Evangeline Lily would however look better without those silly ears, which are simply too big and look just as fake as they are. Also, I'm not sure the hinted-at Elf-Dwarf romance adds much to the story. All things considered, I'll award Jackson's re-imagined "The Hobbit" seven stars.

There were also seven stars in Durin's crown, for those of you who can understand the literary allusion ...
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Miraculously unkillable elves fight endlessly with badly CGI-d orcs
Sapphire Blue6 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
A large proportion of the film is over-taken with elf-orc fight scenes: two elves that aren't even in the book manage to heroically slaughter hundreds of orcs in scenes that aren't in the book.

The ridiculous 'not in the book' love interest between the female not-in-book elf and dwarf culminates in her healing him from a wound that didn't happen in the book, which separates him from the others (again, not in book) using magical powers that it is really unlikely she would have even if she did exist as only a tiny number of elves have that power.

Then at the end, in more 'not from the book' drama, it would seem that hiding behind a sliver of stone will shield people completely from nearby dragon-fire. DRAGON FIRE which apparently doesn't get you if you turn the corner or jump off the cliff in the nick of time.

This lies at the heart of what is wrong with this film, it is trying to turn the Hobbit into an action movie complete with totally unbelievable escapes from danger. This is (theoretically) based on a children's book, it should be more Narnia and less LOTR. Just because they are in the same world should not make this a prequel to LOTR.

Also, all of this inserted stuff really grates and is mostly boring as it has no substance. I don't believe films have to slavishly follow the book but any changes should be justified and these most definitely are not.

Finally, the new bits are given precedence over the actual story and original content. How can they turn a single book into three films and yet cut-down or skip or rush through loads of really good bits from the book? How can they expand the fake characters at length and yet the real characters are barely used? Only a couple of the dwarfs are even distinguishable from each other.

No real attempt has been made to dramatise or flesh out the Hobbit book at all. This is a completely different film. And not even a good one.
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The Desolation of CGI - the Hobbit trilogy continues to disappoint
lornloxor11 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I saw the movie in 2D because I hated the 3D HFR in the first Hobbit movie. I thought the HFR just made the movie sets look like sets instead of being part of the movie universe. I much preferred the 2D experience here and it was easier for me to try to immerse myself in the movie. Regrettably there were too many things that were wrong with the movie for me to achieve that.

This movie had a budget of something like 200 million dollars, over double that of any of the individual movies of the original trilogy. Where did all that money go? To that mostly horrid CGI? There was just bloody too much of it like in the first movie. Everything looks so damn fake with the CGI slammed front and center with no artistic attempt to hide its shortcomings. For example, when Legolas starts chasing Bolg out of Laketown, even his horse is made with CGI. Why? Couldn't you afford to rent one horse? The orcs were mostly made with CGI and they weren't menacing in the slightest. The few scenes with actual actors with makeup playing the orcs were far superior. Erebor looked quite good in general with its mountains of coins and treasures but the melted gold looked unbelievably bad. Many of the actual sets in the movie were very well done and I'm really puzzled why they didn't use them more. The CGI in LOTR looked far more convincing and epic, the large establishing shots looked like grand paintings come alive. What happened here? I don't get it. It felt like I was watching a video game and I don't want to feel that way when I'm watching a movie. Granted, the original trilogy did have a bit of silly looking CGI here and there but at least it was constantly grounded by real sets.

There was also some really weird editing here too. The movie is already way too long and they still include absolutely pointless scenes. For example, when Gandalf is climbing the stairs by the mountain and the ledge gives up, the movie suddenly cuts to a sweeping shot of the mountain side. Why not just stay with Gandalf, it would provide more intensity. There's many examples like this. In Mirkwood when Bilbo is snapping at the spider web they shouldn't zoom deep into the web with the camera. Stuff like this tells nothing and adds nothing to the film. This also takes time away from the character development. When one of the dwarfs oversleeps and misses the boat to Erebor, I couldn't even remember who he was and why I should care that he was stranded in Laketown. Also, the most puzzling and distracting choice in the movie was using that weird POV camera footage in the barrel scenes, it looked so utterly different that it took me out of the movie completely.

The action could've been cut down significantly too. There was no real context or meaning for most of it anyway. Also, after Legolas has killed his umpteenth orc in yet another physics-breaking and miraculous way, you simply lose interest. He can apparently do anything. My feeling is that in the original trilogy the "laws of physics" so to say were merely bent somewhat, here they're completely shattered. All of this may sound nitpicky but I'm essentially doing this because the movie didn't get me emotionally invested in it in a positive way at all.

The movie wasn't particularly funny either despite its lighthearted source material, I laughed much more heartily in many parts of the original trilogy. The Gimli joke was quite funny though. There was also absolutely no memorable music in this movie and none of it moved me like much of the music did in the original trilogy. I didn't get shivers at any point of the movie.

It wasn't all bad or mediocre though. Smaug was magnificent and Benedict Cumberbatch did a great job voice acting the dragon, definitely something to witness in a theater. Smaug's discussions with Bilbo were also great. Gandalf's venture into Dol Guldur was also interesting though that is mainly because Ian McKellen is such a fine actor that he can catch your attention with ease. The cameos by Peter Jackson in the beginning eating the carrot and by Stephen Colbert as the Laketown spy were fun even though I think they might've been too distracting had I loved the movie. The pacing in the movie is a bit of a mixed bag. The first movie had bad pacing because it was overly long without anything really happening. Desolation of Smaug swings the pendulum to the other end with endless action sequences pasted after another. Sure it's more exciting to watch but it was dearly missing some slower sequences to digest everything.

I'm a massive fan of the original trilogy but the first two Hobbit movies simply haven't captured the epicness and magic of those movies at all. And if the Hobbit wasn't intended to feel epic, then why make it into three movies? There's also something else I don't get. The original movie trilogy adaptation established what the LOTR universe looked and felt like. Is the Hobbit trilogy still supposed to happen in that same universe? I didn't ever feel like anyone was in any serious danger because they survive crazier and crazier encounters after the next and because of that there's no tension. This wasn't the case with the originals. Huge spiders were very dangerous in LOTR, here Bilbo is just killing them off left and right. I just wish they'd taken much more liberties with the material and really placed this story into the grittier universe that was established by the original trilogy. Or maybe they should've done something completely different instead of trying to imitate the originals and coming short of them. Anything but this.
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If you are a fan of Tolkien you will be disappointed
Patrick Wittman16 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is so far from the story found in the book that Peter Jackson wouldn't have needed to get the rights from the Tolkien estate. I disagree with many of the naysayers who think this shouldn't have been turned into a three part series. There is plenty of story, action, and character development in the book to make three reasonable length films. The issue with how Jackson has handled this "adaptation" is that they have truncated most of the important elements to the original story simply so they could make up drawn out action scenes for the sake of action.

The film immediately came off the rails in what should have been the queer lodgings chapter. I was fully expecting another fun scene like An Unexpected Party; where Gandalf lures Beorn into letting a company of Dwarfs stay in his house. What we get is a rushed scene where the entire company barrels their way into his barn-ish house fleeing from Beorn and locking him out of his own house. Then without explanation Beorn is fine with all the dwarfs piled in his house just because he hates orcs more then he hates dwarfs. This was one of my favorite scenes in the book and I was really disappointed with how awful it was done.

Next we get to the edge of Mirkwood where Gandalf seems to suddenly discover he needs to go to the south. In the book you get the impression that Gandalf with his great foresight planned to leave the party at the edge of the forest long before they got there. With Gandalf gone the rest of the company immediately become a bunch of morons who simply get lost in stupidity. The entirety of Mirkwood takes them less than 15min to traverse which really kills the feeling that it's a great and massive forest. There was no black river, not once did Bilbo say attercot to taunt the spiders while luring them away from the dwarfs. The Elves come in to save the day killing the spiders and then take the company of dwarfs to their prison cells. No twinkling lanterns, no fires in little glades that go poof when Bilbo or a dwarf tries to approach.

They are in and out of the Elvin prison in the blink of an eye with no sense of time that it took Bilbo to wander around learning his way around, scrounging for food and concocting his plan to escape. All of this was rushed through so we could have another action sequence of orcs chasing the party while elves chased them both but kinda helping the party of dwarfs. It makes no sense. Something that should have been done in a few cuts got extended to a 5min+ action sequence so they can show off their CGI.

I could go on, but I'll skip ahead to the last part that never happens in the book. The last 15 minutes of the film is a drawn out action sequence of the Dwarfs and Bilbo battling Smaug inside the Lonely Mountain. In the book the Dwarfs never engage Smaug at all. The long straight secret tunnel leading to the hidden door is not long or straight at all in the film. To top it all off, the ending was cut as Smaug is flying away toward Lake Town. There is no battle, no burning of the city, no Smaug getting shot in the breast by Bard and thus falling into the lake causing it to billow up in a cloud of steam.

In summary this is not The Hobbit. It is some film that Peter Jackson made up as he went along with what (conservatively) is less than 40% parts of the books story. If you are a fan of Tolkien you will undoubtedly be let down by this excuse of a movie.

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Literature and Film-Making
KbUCSyqmGk13 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is more of a bad Steven Seagal clone than an adaptation of well-read literature. The first film in the new trilogy, An Unexpected Journey, was very good, with one problem I'll mention later. If the worst decision Director Peter Jackson made was to include Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lilly, which seems to be the case for the professional praise-givers, this film would be fantastic. However, it just so happens that there's this little thing Jackson and his fellow writers forgot to do: make sure the movie resembles the book.

I'm sure most people who saw the first movie remember the leading villain Azog. Well, in case you haven't read the book, page 251 of my 1997 Houghton Mifflin copy states "Bolg of the North is coming, O Dain! whose father you slew in Moria." In the section on Durin's Folk in Appendix A of the Lord of the Rings, it is stated that Dain Ironfoot, who is supposed to appear in the next film, slew Azog in the big Dwarf vs. Goblin battle we see as a flashback in film one. This means that the entire Azog subplot is just one big fan-fiction. It is one thing to include the son of the Elven-King (Legolas) even though he is not mentioned in the book, after all, is it so inconceivable that Legolas would be near his father? It is an entirely different matter when a character is included even though he has been dead for over 100 years!

Continuing with our game of "What is timeline consistency?", we come across Gandalf. Gandalf ends movie 2 in a cage at Dol Guldur. Beyond the fact that there is no rationale for such a decision, we know from Appendix B that Gandalf reports the existence of Sauron to the White Council and then takes part in the attack on Dol Guldur. After that battle, he proceeds to save Bilbo's life right before the Battle of Five Armies. Based on this film's timeline and what part of the original timeline still remains, Gandalf has but a handful of days to accomplish all that I have listed.

My copy of The Hobbit is 271 pages long. The US edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is 310 pages. Why in the name of Eru do you need three movies for this story? I understand and would have gladly stood behind two films, therefore allowing for extended action sequences and a limited reduction in content. Three films should be more than enough to cover the entire book but apparently not for Peter Jackson.

Beorn is trimmed down to the importance of Celeborn, then we watch a ridiculously long giant spider sequence, then the dwarfs are captured for maybe three hours Middle-Earth time, then we watch an overly long fan-fiction chapter about Azog's friends being killed by our two elf heroes. Note that Bolg is able to attack the dwarfs because Jackson changed the escape from Mirkwood scene in order to allow for more combat.

After our craziest bloodbath yet, we have an overly long scene introducing another Jackson creation: Bard, the Barge-Sailer who apparently got mixed up with Bard, the Captain of the Guard. You see, the former makes a whole bunch of claims that are actually true about the latter. Why do we need to mess up the Lake-Town sequence? If you guessed "To set up another impossible bloodbath", give yourself a vacation to a combat zone. This round of combat is only after we leave four dwarfs behind because one of them got the Witch-King's knife disease that Frodo got in Fellowship but this time it came from an arrow fired by Bolg who has absolutely nothing better to do since Azog took all his screen time. Of course, Kili is saved by Tauriel, Captain of the Guard of the Woodland Realm who somehow has the same healing capability as Lord Elrond Half-Elven, wielder of one of the three Elven Rings of Power and a direct descendant of the Kings of the Noldor. It is rather fortunate Tauriel is there, because otherwise, Kili would have to wait for the next movie to have his deathbed dialogue, provided Jackson even sends Fili and Kili to Erebor where they're supposed to be. I'm all for the suspension of disbelief, but this doesn't even make sense in the fantasy universe.

And don't forget the dragon. In Lake-Town, the viewer is reminded multiple times that Smaug can only be killed by a special ballista-bolt, strangely called an arrow, and only in one tiny spot on his stomach. In the mountain, Bilbo points it out again. But Peter Jackson apparently pays no heed to the script with his own name on it and gives the viewer a 30 minute "Let's Kill the Dragon Sequence". Take a guess who doesn't die in this sequence. If you said Smaug, the Fire- Breathing Dragon, you are more qualified to direct this movie than Peter Jackson.

I loved the Rings film trilogy and, with the exception of Azog, the first Hobbit film. This film though, has almost no plot development, almost no consistency with the timeline given by Tolkien, almost no attention paid to its own script, and entirely too much combat. I remember Jackson being criticised for the warg battle in Towers but that did not require any plot change except for the location of the death of Hama (a very minor change) and the whole Aragorn-cliff- dream-thing which serves to heighten the tension before a battle that is done far better in the film. The warg battle helped to make a good fantasy film. This film seems like it is trying to see how many people can be killed before it gets an R rating from the MPAA. Deviations from the book are good if it enables better cinema but not when it allows for "Let's Kill Everything We See: The Movie".
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ericm45 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Tolkien's works mean a great deal to me. I spent my childhood reading and rereading The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, and whatever else I could get my hands on published posthumously. The Hobbit is a gentle story. Bilbo, with some help from Gandalf and the Dwarfs, is able to accomplish amazing things, despite his small size, because of his luck, wits, and strength of character. The other characteristic of the book is the vastness, diversity, and beauty of the world, filling one with curiosity for what is just around the corner, but also taking just enough time to linger a while in every place.

These Hobbit movies don't linger, characters and scenes are abridged in all the wrong places in order to make time for pervasive and repetitive chase scenes. Even where there isn't a chase scene, they are added. Jackson seems to have taken every scene in the book and asked the question "how can I make this into a battle/chase scene?" Bilbo's power and strengths, are greatly usurped in this film by the intervention of Legolas saving the day each time. Beorn is truncated. The magic and mystery of Mirkwood is particularly lacking. The gentle escape from the elves in the barrels is turned into a farce obviously designed to tie in with a future theme park ride.

Don't see the films nor allow children to see them before reading the books. You should exercise your brains and imagination, creating the images yourself, rather than letting someone else imagine for you, causing you to be stuck with the images from these mediocre films.

Jackson seems to know nothing of the poetry of the book, of mythological archetypes, language and history, nor the unique, gentle fantastic quality of Tolkien's work. Its very sad.
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Truly Dreadful
Chris Chris12 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I am a big fan of LOTR and whilst I thought AUJ was poor, I was willing to let that one go as a blip. With that in mind I had high hopes for TDOS which appeared from the trailer to be darker and grittier that the first instalment.

Unfortunately, what was presented was an absolute shambles. The plot is truly terrible and a mere shadow of the original book; the HFR 3D serves to visualise most of the film as a cheap, made-for-TV soap opera; there is virtually no character development and the CGI fight scenes are so bad it's just laughable.

In AUJ I found HFR 3D passable. It didn't distract me too much and maybe even enhanced parts of the film. However, in this instalment it was awful. The very first scene is almost unwatchable it's so bad and this is a theme that continues throughout most of the film. The character closeups are like watching a badly made TV show with all the limitations of costume and make-up clearly visible and the large-scale CGI scenes are like watching a computer game intro sequence. It just does not work.

The plot is only loosely based on the book. The great character of Beorn is just glossed over and the gorgeous Murk Wood is presented as a mere triviality. I was looking forward to a sinister spider scene but all that we got was some Disney-style nonsense that was not in the least bit scary.

The entire thing is conducted as if a child has written it... "...and then the dwarfs go into beorn's house and then beorn tries to kill them and then he's not bothered and then he hates them and then he doesn't and then we're bored of beorn and then they go to murk wood and then gandalf goes to find the necromancer and we don't really know what that is or why but just cos and then there are spiders and then the dwarfs are stuck in the webs and then they're not stuck anymore and then they box the spiders and win and then some really really good looking elves come along and one of them is legolas and he's not really a wood elf but we'll just pretend he is cos he's really really good looking and the other elf girl who's really really good looking gets the hots for one of the dwarfs erm yeah erm hmm and that probably seems a bit weird so then the dwarf tells her a story about the moon and then and then..."

And now for the the fight scenes. Oh my god. Please just stop it. Please. If I see Legolas surfing around like some deranged beach bum with a bow and arrow one more time I think I'll throw up in the theatre. "Pathetic" doesn't even begin to describe the nonsense that is on display here.

And why, when PJ or GDT or whoever started saying "... and then the dwarfs bait Smaug into lighting the furnaces and then hundreds of tons of solid gold melts in a few seconds and then the gold is made into a giant gold dwarf and then the giant gold dwarf splurges all over Smaug and then that's pointless anyway cos Smaug just shakes it off and then Smaug doesn't want to kill the dwarfs anymore just cos and then Smaug just flies off instead..." did someone not just stand up and slap whoever it was very hard in the face and say: "No. In then name of Gondor, I will not let you defile the work of the great Tolkien such"?
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A serious disappointment
alvsborg21 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
First, I want to say that I loved the LOTR trilogy. The spirit of the movie is close to the spirit of the books, even though the action scenes are more dominant in the films.

The Hobbit has a completely different spirit than the LOTR trilogy. Though I am adult, and the Hobbit is considered a children's book, I enjoy it a lot. I have read the book a couple of times and listen to it (as an audio book in Swedish, with a very talented reader) and it is just a wonderful journey.

Both the story-telling and the story itself has a great number of intricate and humorous moments. With Peter Jackson's talent of making the LOTR trilogy into the three movies I had great expectations of the Hobbit movie. Unfortunately, PJ has just made another LOTR-movie which has very little to do with the Hobbit.

In my point of view, the greatest moment of the book was when the dwarfs, Bilbo and Gandalf visited Beorn. For the movie, I just couldn't wait to see how PJ had tackled the big hassle Gandlaf had to introduce all the dwarfs to Beorn. In the book, he had to introduce them two by two, during a long period of time. Just to make Beorn comfortable with so many visitors. PJ left this wonderful scene and changed it to an action scene, where the company just sieged Beorns house and didn't let him in. That makes the film story to something completely different than the book.

Then, I was curious whether the company would be served by animals, as they are in the book. That could have been a challenge, and PJ didn't take it, but placed a normal cow and goat in the kitchen and living room.

If you are around 13 years old, never read a book and obviously not the Hobbit, and love to play Grand Theft Auto - this might be a decent movie to watch. Otherwise: skip it.

The only positive thing with the PJ:s movie being so bad and so far from the book, is that there is room for a REAL The Hobbit movie in the future!
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Improves upon the first one just about enough to cover the weaknesses it shares with it
bob the moo28 December 2013
After seeing the first Hobbit film I must admit that I could have cared less about seeing the second and indeed it took me a minute to get back into it and I was grateful for the film giving me a "12 months earlier" scene to sum up what I am supposed to be following. It wasn't that the first film was bad (it is too expensive to be bad) but more than constant action and movement with no consequences or realism to engage me, really left me looking at a video game that I had no investment in (and I say this as a gamer). I didn't hope for much better when I went to see this sequel and, as Theo Robertson has said, perhaps this helped me enjoy the Desolation of Smaug more.

The plot has more to it than one encounter after another and connecting it to the later films was a good move that made me feel there was more content here – although I think that was artificial, I will not deny that it worked. The action sequences retain the same problems as the first film, which is that nobody ever feels like they are in real danger no matter how long the fall, how low the odds or what is happening. The good thing is that because the film isn't one escape sequence after another, I didn't feel this so often – although it is undeniably still a problem in these films. The characters were a little better than before although perhaps I was just more interested in them. Smaug in particular is a great creation – visually and stylishly; just like the first film where my favorite parts were the still and tense sequences with Gollum, so too here the high point of the whole film is where Smaug is toying with his potential victims and it is such a shame that this was not done longer.

Visually the film remains a feast – although, befitting the time of year, it is a Christmas feast where everything is good but it is endless and eventually just feels indulgent and gluttonous. This remains the case because the film almost never feels like it was shot wholly on a location. I remember the LotR films impressing me with their natural beauty but here even a shot of people walking across a field seems to have been digitally enhanced and, as good as it looks, it does remove me from the film somewhat. Visual effects are impressive but it does really hurt to see Jackson leaning towards the George Lucas "if we can do it then we should do it" school of effects management. The cast do solid jobs – I liked Freeman and McKellan when they were allowed to be more than just special effects The dwarfs made more of an impression on me this time but the elves not so much – Bloom remains stiff while Lilly sports the only unconvincing effect in the film in the shape of her ears. Cumberbatch was strong as the voice of Smaug and I enjoyed Fry and McCoy in supporting roles (shame the latter missed out on more time due to his Doctor Who efforts during the 50th anniversary year!).

The Desolation of Smaug is a solid blockbuster; lots of action, a decent story and strong special effects – this is not the same as saying it is a great film though, but it does still entertain. The story remain distant due to the invincible characters and consequence free (but very seriously presented) action, which does prevent one being drawn into it. Of course I'll be there for the final film, but I really do hope than they focus on danger rather than spectacle and build the tension instead of just increasing the noise.
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Disappointment Doesn't Even Begin To Cover It
erinkay64121 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
If you were thinking about seeing The Desolation of Smaug, do yourself a favor and stay home. It's close to 3 hours of your life you will never get back. The plot has almost nothing to do with the book. There are completely fabricated characters and there is NO character development. In fact, I had to go stand in the hall for a minute because my brother & I were laughing so hard about the fact that the third movie could be 3 hours of the cast members literally destroying copies of The Hobbit and it would probably be a better movie than this. The last 30 minutes are completely made up, insulting to Tolkein, and painful to watch. I would actually pay more than I paid to see the movie to get those 3 hours of my life back. I am at a loss for words at how Peter Jackson did so well with the Lord of The Rings movies and then seemingly had a seizure while holding a pen and decided to call it a script and go with it. I think they thought that bringing back Legolas would help the movie, but in fact they only detracted by going ahead & writing him as a bland character who is now, instead of being primarily an archer, a ninja swordsman of some sort. They also opt to attempt to squeeze in a love story instead of actual events that happened in the book, because dull romance sells. If you love the book as much as I do and have any sort of positive expectations for this film, you will be severely let down.
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Terrible is an understatement
Peter Nielsen31 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Everything that i loved about the original trilogy is gone. How can one make such a bad movie... i don't even know what to say but everything is wrong with this movie, visual effects, direction and story. If you have read the book you will be disappointed. The movie has loss of balance, too much action and no character development. Legolas wasn't even in the book neither was Tauriel which Peter Jackson came up with. The dragon was cool though but that is all i can say i liked about the movie. Two hobbit movies would have been enough to tell the story from the book, i mean just look at the harry potter movies compared to the books, they are just brilliant. The movie is brainless and rushed which is a shame as i've been so excited for the "The Hobbit Movies". I really hope the last one is made with care because it really deserves it.
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Tolkien is turning in his grave
MrBlackAdder13 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Admittedly, I am biased from having read the wonderful book, but it looks like Peter Jackson has been writing his own story. He keeps making up pointless crap as an excuse to add more CGI and more fighting scenes. If you are looking for mindless fighting, zero dialogue, an overuse of CGI that would leave James Cameron shaking his head in disbelief, then sure, this movie is probably for you! However, if you are looking for the same emotion and magic that the book brings out in you, prepare to be disappointed, over and over again.

Beorn is in the movie for about a minute and has the eloquence of a donkey with autism. Mirkwood before the elves appear is barely five minutes long. Which means the spiders disappear before they even got the chance to appear, and there is no Bombur falling in the water, and nothing to lure them off the path, they just get lost because they are extremely dumb dwarfs. Orcs are chasing them wherever they go, and the barrel- ride out of Mirkwood is a 20-minute long scene where nothing really happens, except a lot of orcs die, and Kili gets shot with a poisonous arrow(?). Then they bribe Bard into smuggling them past the guards into Lake-town. Apparently Bards ancestor shot off a piece of dragon scale under his left wing, so Bard already knows of the Dragon's weakness. No thrush has to tell him anything... All the dwarfs race into Smaug's lair and go on a rat-race in which Smaug is too brainless to actually kill anyone, and when he has an absolutely obvious shot at it, he suddenly has a change of heart and decides to let them live. Also, four of the dwarfs are still in Lake-town tending to the poisoned Kili and fighting orcs with the elves. Make sense? Not really, no. The book has been torched, and Peter Jackson has rewritten it the way it was (probably) intended; as a fighter-book with cool environments, cool people who say cool things, cool dwarven caves and cool statues. The things I have pointen out are only a few of the many changes and disappointments from the movie. Who needs a good story with all this CGI?

The acting is dreadful, the dialogue is dreadful, the CGI is dreadfully overused, the plot is dreadful (it's not the same as the book, believe me.) But the dragon was pretty cool. So therefore: 2/10.
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dobrose14 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I loved the LOTR movies despite the liberties Jackson took with the story (especially in The Two Towers) and I found the first Hobbit movie tolerable but this one stinks. Jackson seems to think that we like his story-making over Tolkien's. He has used his gratuitously added action scenes from those movies as the basis for almost the entirety of this 3+hour movie.

There is maybe 15 minutes of this movie that is from the book. The rest is stuff that Jackson wrote and never-ending CGI action shots that have such fast moving elements that you can barely tell what is going on and the characters perform feats that stretch belief so far that even the fantasy-world of Middle Earth cannot overcome. The character of Bilbo is diminished almost to a supporting one. The main characters of this movie are Tauriel and Legolas (the former made up by Jackson, the latter never appears in The Hobbit) and Bard. The character of Bard is totally changed from the noble protector of Lake-town to that of a ruffian on the margins of Lake-town society. The dwarfs were portrayed in the book as being a little cowardly, very greedy and bumbling. In the movie they are like a pack of Jackie Chan's with beards, even taunting the dragon to chase them through the halls of Erebor to try to catch him in a trap. From a cinematic critique Jackson continues his habit of massively exaggerating the scenery vertically so that as the party is making there way up the side of the Lonely Mountain it seems like they are climbing the Matterhorn.

I could go on and on. Bottom line is this movie is lousy. I have watched each of the LOTR movies several times; I don't think I could sit through this movie for a second time.
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Peter Jackson: The New George Lucas.
Zeke0320 December 2013
We all remember how George Lucas created an amazing trilogy called "Star Wars," then went back later to do a prequel trilogy and tried to destroy the franchise by focusing on ridiculous visual effects and neglecting the story entirely; so too has Peter Jackson fallen.

The five points I have given are purely for the visual aspect of the movie. It is amazing. But we all expected that.

0/5 for story. Tolkien wrote an amazing little (LITTLE) book called the Hobbit. Jackson could have fit the important and relevant parts of "An Unexpected Journey" into about an hour. It is the same here. There is a ridiculous amount of filler, needless side-plots, and a stupid (for lack of a better word) love triangle that makes a Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy seem deep. And I mean OK, I expect filler if you're going to turn a tiny book into three three hour movies, but at least keep what happens in the book if you're going to make stuff up. A few times scenes that were actually written by Tolkien feel rushed and cut short, while filler scenes seem to drag endlessly.

Smaug had the potential to be great, and started out that way, but the gross on screen overuse of his character makes you think of a brainless rat running through a maze searching for cheese rather than the majestic dragon we all grew up reading about.

I could keep on listing things I did not like (like bringing Legolas into the film to draw fans, and then overusing every cool thing he ever did in LOTR until you're sitting in your seat begging him to stop {ex, he surfs on EVERTYTHING}) but I am going to stop.

Go see the movie on principle, but don't go looking for the nostalgia of LOTR like I did. Because even though it should be there, any chance these films had of greatness was lost in the desperate attempt to turn what should have been one great film into a three year money making machine.
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Peter Jackson: From Admirable Director To Capitalist Pig
Erik Pelicaen26 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This is my first film review, and I am writing it down mainly because I need a way to get a load of hateful feelings off my chest...

Firstly, I apologize for the harsh review title, for insulting is an easy way to criticize, but it is quite an accurate way of summarizing this review and a manner of expressing my feelings. Secondly, this is a long review but I hope you take some time reading it, especially if you have the same sensation as the title expresses. Thirdly, I am glad to see that a lot of people share similar impressions from a film that by far does not deserve three Oscar nominations and an 8.1 rating, even though lately these are seldom to be considered valuable. Finally, I will approach this film basically on its cinematographic aspects and less on its content or on its relevance with Tolkien's work, for the disrespect to film as an art form is in my opinion even greater than the disrespect to the book – which is clearly out of proportion. However, maybe the greatest scandal of them all is the one Jackson does to himself.


Concerning this decision, diversified discussions exist. Many find it a dull idea because the book's content does not permit such a film length. Personally, I think it is an interesting idea to involve other elements from Tolkien's creation of Middle-Earth (Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, Children of Hurin), but Jackson totally ruins its potential. Instead of what he claims to do, he mostly fills it with ridiculously long and comic action scenes, an invented character – which happens to be really hot – and a cheesy, irrelevant love story.

These Hollywood clichés are the perfect recipe for capitalism, the compromise between art and business, even the complete neglect of art. What I find even more frustrating is how he then manages to make a 161 min. film with an overdose of fast moving cameras and less than one second during shots. Moreover, I am still unable to distinguish the dwarfs from one another and most of them barely even have lines. It also feels like Bilbo is disappearing behind Legolas and Tauriel. There are nearly no emotional connections being developed between the audience and the characters, compared to the LOTR trilogy, where strong bonds of empathy are constructed.


In An Unexpected Journey, the music is tolerable, although it certainly does not attain the magic of the LOTR soundtrack. However, here it seems as if Howard Shore ran out of inspiration, or does not find a way to bring the music to the front instead of letting it murmur in the background. And for Christ's sake, why in the world would you choose a sissy voice as Ed Sheeran's for your end credits, after a cliffhanger with a mighty dragon? Simply to expand the target public to teen girls and gain more profit.


Actually, I cannot remember any of the actors acting well, except maybe for Martin Freeman. For almost all of the other characters, a general failure is the unbelievable overacting, which is sometimes almost worth crying for. OK, the acting in the LOTR is also very theatrical, but it perfectly fits in the Middle-Earth atmosphere and it is always convincing and emotionally provoking. However, in this film, almost every line is exaggerated and edited in a way the deep male voices sound 'really cool' (think of Beorn and Thorin). I am even disappointed in Ian McKellen, who throws some extremely overacted lines as well.

A brief attention goes to the two love scenes between Tauriel and Kili. It reminds me of Jackson's The Lovely Bones, which is maybe the worst film I have ever seen. I thought he would not dare making such a mistake again. I was wrong. I could not believe my ears when Tauriel started saying meaningless, cheesy rubbish about the universe and it continued for at least five minutes. However, that was not enough… The scene where she is healing Kili's leg and an aura of white light appears was just making me sick. On the other hand, Benedict Cumberbatch's voice for Smaug is very convincing.


A simple thing I don't understand about modern CGI is that it is meant to make look things very realistic, but it often results in the contrary. There is a huge difference with the LOTR, especially with the Orcs and Wargs. I also have the feeling Jackson rarely went looking for a good setting and he just added everything with CGI. There is no more time for admiration of the magnificent landscapes from the LOTR and even from An Unexpected Journey. The only CGI that blew my mind was Smaug's appearance.

Another important thing is the action, in which Jackson completely loses himself making the impossible combat experience, which ends up in a very computer game-like sensation. He forgets Middle-Earth is an imaginary world, but with realistic physics. The river scene, Legolas' and Tauriel's scenes, it is not even worth discussing…

I could go on for hours, but sadly there is a 1000 word limit. I hope you now agree with the choice my review title, because Peter Jackson is a perfect example of one who is consumed by capitalism – what I consider to be a severe illness – and therefore does not take time to think of a worthy completion of his previous artwork. I find it really hard to imagine him watching his premiere, and thinking he has made a brilliant piece of work.

The Lord of the Rings really made my teenager years and I was really grateful Jackson existed, but now he just ruined every single bit of respect I had for him…
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The desolation of the Hobbit
info-876-91094922 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
After a disappointing AUJ I really wanted to like this film. Unfortunately I've now lost complete faith in PJ's magic.

There are so many flaws in this film I don't even know where to start. From characters that are invincible (fighting barehanded giant spiders or Orcs !) which removes all tension from the film to utterly incomprehensible and unconvincing scenes (creation of giant dwarf gold statue in 5 minutes while a fire breathing dragon is on a rampage) this movie is just awful. Dialogues seem to be written by a 10 year old and the behavior of the protagonist contradicts what is expected from them (Why does the king of dwarfs threatens Bilbo despite their bond in AUJ? Why do the dwarfs leave one of theirs sleeping in the village? Why do the dwarfs leave so quickly the mountain once they realize that they can't find the keyhole?). The village scenes add no value to the story (fillers) and the love triangle is forced and unconvincing.

Worst, Smaug which seemed to be an eloquent and highly intelligent character in the first five minutes of dialog with Bilbo is then transformed into a stupid creature who can't find slow-paced and pudgy dwarfs in his lair. What a waste of material - Smaug could have been one of the best villains coming out of Hollywood. Now it's just a dumb dragon which likes to talk like a posh Englishman.

The 3D doesn't add any value to the film (contrary to Gravity) and the CGI was poor (why make a horse in CGI?). LOTR was more convincing. In the end neither my wife or I cared for any of the characters (existing or new). This film was an insult to our intelligence. We deserved much better.

I've put 2 stars. One for the first five minutes of dialog with Smaug (only real moment of the film with some tension) and one for the fine acting of Gandalf and Bilbo as usual.
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I walked out
Ean Hernandez27 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This movie really blew it for me. Here is why, in increasing order of distastefulness.

1. Not taking the time to properly tell the many little stories in the book. This is too bad, because they were good stories. Beorn, Mirkwood, Elf fires, Bilbo and the spiders, Bilbo and the dragon, etc. are all abbreviated or simply left out.

2. Developing sub plots which were only alluded to in the book. These added depth to the world around the story, but fully played out they are irrelevant and obsessed with the LOTR plot. Radagast, the Necromancer, etc. are distractions, and doubly so with their relentless focus on premonition of events from the next 3 books. This also assumes that the director has more interesting stories to tell than the author did. He does not.

3. Adding characters and plots that were never in the book. The Pale Orc, Legolas, Tauriel, dwarf/elf romance, etc. These force the plot to change, distract from the story, and are weak compared to the original. Again the director demonstrates that the author was a better storyteller than he is. Plus, this allows for cringe-worthy scenes such as the one where the hottie-kungfu-elf-she-warrior saved her love interest dwarf from a morgul arrowhead with magic spells and herbs just in time to kill a bunch of orcs who ninja-style invaded lake town.

4. Doing another Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom style roller coaster ride. This was cute in the 80s, but is simply insulting at this point in time, and particularly in this story. Does one of the great stories of the 20th century really need a roller coaster ride to make it interesting? The moment I saw the dwarfs sliding down to waiting coal cars, I realized that I'd had enough. This was where I walked out shaking my head.

I'm sad about this movie because I loves these stories, and I doubt they'll ever be told in film again. This was almost as bad as the John Carter movie!
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This is NOT Tolkien's "The Hobbit"
geolot125630 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This movie MIGHT make a decent typical action CGI cartoon-like modern flick (by today's low standards), but it was supposed to be so much more. I think I might have somewhat liked- or at least tolerated- it if it was a story cooked up by Peter Jackson without claiming to be based on the great historical tale of Tolkien's "The Hobbit". But, it claims to be "The Hobbit", and not "Peter Jackson's Wacky Tales from Middle Earth" so I looked at it against the true Tolkien story. From that viewpoint, this movies fails so bad that it is hard to write a review at all. And it failed even worse than "The Hobbit Part 1".

Where to begin?.. The Dwarf Kili who looks more human than the human characters in this film (you would think with PJ's love of special effects, they would not have overlooked this). He doesn't fit and what is worse, they have him playing puppy-love games with a female elf who is not even supposed to be in the movie. This female elf has a very large and completely fabricated role. It's like PJ plucked the idea from the "Twilight" films where the girl is torn between the werewolf and vampire boyfriends- only this elf is torn between the human looking dwarf and Legolas. Oh, and Legolas wasn't in the real story either. His role here would have been OK if kept minor, but an entire contrived subplot that gives him an action hero role is unnaturally injected into the story in order to give Orlando Bloom way too much screen time. I write this having actually liked his part in Lord of The Rings. Radagast is almost as bad as he was in Hobbit 1 and Gandalf is worse. A MAJOR snafu on PJ's part is that the one plot point that carries through all the real stories is the journal Bilbo started keeping at the start of Mirkwood that eventually becomes Bilbo's & later Frodo's life work is totally left out (and this plot point is prominent in PJ's LOTR films and the book is handed down to Samwise). I could go on, but anyone who knows Tolkien gets the idea. I loved the PJ's LOTR movies, but I hate what PJ & crew have done with "The Hobbit" >:(

One more point: PJ claimed that he used material from the LOTR appendix to get the filler to make 3 Hobbit movies, but that's not what he put in the Hobbit movies. The filler is made up from the mind of PJ & crew, not taken from the LOTR appendix. PJ must think he is better write than Tolkien. He is NOT.

Edit: Peter Jackson ruined the Lord of the Rings with this movie, how? The whole of the beginning of Fellowship was Gandalf unraveling the mystery of Sauron and the Ring, but now Jackson wants to spoon-feed every connection to the audience, so shows Sauron to Gandalf in Dol Goldur, thereby making the whole opening in Fellowship mute. The more I think about the Hobbit 1 & 2, they worse they are to me. If I had the stomach to watch them again, I am sure there would probably be dozens, if not hundreds, of more errors in these hashed plots.
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I knew the Hobbit, the Hobbit was a friend of mine. You, sir, are no Hobbit!
Griffin21 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I grew up reading and rereading and loving the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed Jackson's Trilogy but I think the Hobbit has suffered greatly in the translation from book to screen.

The Desolation of Smaug is almost unrecognizable as part of the Hobbit - the love story between the dwarf and the wood elf, the bizarre rewriting of the escape from the wood elf stronghold, the battle between the handful of dwarfs and Smaug in the mountain in which the dwarfs nearly get the better of Smaug (!!!) are just some of the egregious examples of poetic license taken by Jackson.

To add insult to injury it is only part II of III. You've got to be kidding!!! The Hobbit is all of about 300 pages versus nearly 1500 pages for the Trilogy. This is simply gross money-mongering at the expense of the audiences. Sorry, I love Tolkien's The Hobbit just not The Hobbit Movie. Old JRR must be rolling over in his grave.
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The worst installment in the series thus far
Hausmannsgate11 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
About three minutes in to The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug we find ourselves back in the company of our merry dwarfs, a wizard and a hobbit as they yet again find themselves fleeing from Azog the incompetent orc, who is attempting to kill them. The scene is fast, action packed and not particularly exciting. When the scene is finally at an end we are served with some forgettable dialog where the company discusses the danger they are in, accompanied by some dramatic background music. It's a sign of things to come. This is basically how you will spend the next 150 minutes or so: long, drawn out action scene, short futile discussion with dramatic background score, new drawn out action scene. Throughout the movie I found myself desperately searching for moments of silence. Scenes that would allow the audience a break from this video game like narrative, but it was almost never to be found.

Now let me shoot in that I like to enjoy brainless action in movies and video games for that matter, but that doesn't mean that it's right for this movie. The Hobbit is an adventure film and should play out like fairy tale. But this fairy tale suffers from a lack of restraint. It has too much action, and amazingly, too much score. It has never been an annoyance in the past, but really, does every piece of dialog have to be accompanied by score? The source material for this film; the passages of the book which describe the long walk through Mirkwood forest, the escape from the elves and the arrival in Lake town are some of the funniest, most memorable and imaginative from the entire book. To my disappointment, all the charming little scenes where Bilbo runs around invisible with his ring to help the dwarfs out of new trouble, are cut short and hastily rushed through. You get the feeling that the director is short on time and has to get it over quickly, but to make room for what exactly? How on earth is it that a trilogy consisting of three 160 minute films, all based on a short book, doesn't have the time to fully delve in to the most memorable passages from said book? Especially when these passages would have given the film some much needed pacing and comical relief. The answer came towards the end. The reason for why the film needed to move quickly was to make room for new elaborate and drawn out action scenes - all of them completely unnecessary for the plot. Now, I am no Tolkien purist, and I don't mind a little creative freedom if it serves a purpose. In the Desolation of Smaug, the only purpose seems to have been to satisfy anxious producers that the film would have enough orc on dwarf/elf/human action, which they obviously see as the only factor that made the three first films a success.

There are no peaks and valleys. Only a succession of ever higher peaks. Every scene seems more action packed or dramatic than the next, with hardly any humor at all, leaving us completely numb to everything that happens. The criticism is one I could also direct at the first Hobbit movie, but it was nowhere near as unrestrained as this one. The Desolation of Smaug is more related to Peter Jackson's King Kong than the original trilogy, and one is left to wonder how the Fellowship of the Ring would have looked like, if it had been made with the same creative philosophy as the Desolation of Smaug. In all likelihood the most charming scenes would have been cut short to make room for an hour-long battle in Moria. Let us only hope that the next film manages to show some restraint in the build up the battle of the five armies.

The only redeeming qualities in this film are the set pieces, which have been wonderfully put together in the same manner of which we have come to expect from the previous films. The polish and color filters could have been toned down a bit, but visually the film is still a masterpiece.
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Feels thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.
Oskari Ratinen14 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The Hobbit is a simple and straightforward children's book about finding a dragon, killing it and going back home. How can you possibly mess that up when you start making a film adaptation with abundant resources? Well, let me tell you how they managed.

Poor J.R.R. Tolkien, he's probably spinning wildly in his grave right now. The man that you could with justification call an absolute perfectionist when it comes to the presentation of his work would have never approved of this silly bore fest. Honestly, during some of the fight scenes I was expecting Graham Chapman as Colonel to come on to the screen and tell us exactly how silly it was that we just saw. "An Unexpected Journey" was promising enough to assume that the trilogy would probably not be a complete flop after all, but "Desolation of Smaug" is where everything goes wrong. There's little left to redeem in the end.

OK, the bottom of the barrel first, fight scenes. In Lord of the Rings trilogy fight scenes passed two critical tests: they were (at least if you exclude Legolas) somewhat realistic, and they served a purpose from the viewpoint of the story. Here, we have none of that. Legolas is back with sillier stunts than ever but that's not all. This time, EVERYONE is doing silly stunts, except the orcs of course, who are there solely to get hit, usually in the groin by an axe that has just passed through several pairs of hands of dwarfs that are going down rapids in bouncing, shaky barrels that somehow refuse to sink despite taking in water all the time. Another thing: whenever a central character is threatened in any way, you'll soon learn to ask yourself two questions: which part of the baddies' body is the arrow going to pierce, and who will shoot it?

Need I even talk about the absurd love story between one of the dwarfs and the elven warrior played by Evangeline Lily? It's probably enough if I say it's one of the most forced and implausible love stories ever put on screen. Besides from this romance that kick starts immediately without a viable reason, everything in this movie is so drawn out and slow that Bilbo's quote from Lord of the Rings fits perfectly. You wait and wait for something meaningful to happen, and when it finally does. It. Goes. On. For. Ages. There are good things as well, most notably Martin Freeman does good job as Bilbo and Benedict Cumberbatch is phenomenal as the voice of Smaug. Unfortunately, with a script like this even talented actors can only do so much.

The script. Oh god, the script. I refuse to talk about it. If watching the movie was this painful, how awful must it have been to actually write something so boring? All in all, this movie is bad. Really, really bad. It's not because the crew and cast don't know what they're doing, it's because they're doing too much of everything just to squeeze out as much money as possible from source material that would've been enough for one feature film and no more. Also, the spirit of the source material is forgotten. This is no kids' movie, this is a movie that tries its earnest to be Lord of the Rings without ever having a chance to achieve that goal.

A friendly word of advice to you Peter Jackson: since you clearly wanted to make a movie trilogy that was like LotR, start filming Silmarillion next. There's enough gritty source material for ten movies for you there, and it's all action if you so wish. Drop the silliness you have brought in in The Hobbit though.
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Nightmarish and awful
MissSimonetta25 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I am not much of a Tolkein fan, but I saw the original LOTR film trilogy and read The Hobbit, and enjoyed all of it. The first Hobbit film was weak, but tolerable and full of atmosphere, but The Desolation of Smaug is downright awful.

I am not against making changes to a film's source material, that is, if it benefits the film or makes for a solid, entertaining story. The screenplay here is a big mess, with too many conflicting subplots which take away from the central story about the dwarfs making their way to the mountain. Why do we need that subplot with Azog? Or a bunch of needless tie-ins to the original trilogy? Or a silly love triangle which does little to contribute to anything? It's a shame that so much screen time is taken away from Martin Freeman, who without doubt gives the best performance.

The CG is especially horrendous and had me laughing aloud at several moments. The action sequences are so overblown and cartoonish. And why does Legolas' horse need to be CG?? Really? Does everything need to be a special effect? You cannot tell me they could not afford a real horse for just that one tiny shot! It's ridiculous.

At least this film wasn't Star Wars prequel bad, but that's about it.
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Too rushed, wrong emphasis
Beni Bogosel23 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I liked the movie overall, but in the end I felt that everything was rushed and little was presented...

1. I don't understand how a book presented in three 3h movies can seem so rushed... The meeting with Beorn was quick with no tension, no detail, no nothing. The journey through mirkwood was dull, a mere 2 minutes of wandering and then they jumped directly to the spider fight... The barrels escape came from nowhere. In the Lake town they were caught and they were gone. The search for the keyhole was stupid... Why the need of the light of the moon if they had a staircase which led to a wall smaller than one wall in my room where all they needed was to search a little for a hole? The story from inside the mountain seemed a totally different thing than the book... What was the story with the Lake chief? What is Gandalf doing, and why are the orcs here better armored (in the end) than in LOTR?

2. Fighting scenes are overly exaggerated... Probably influenced by LOTR. They get overly creative with all angle arrow shots and creative decapitations by Legolas.

3. The CGI is disappointing... There are a few scenes which seem taken from a video game. The orcs do not look real. There Is a scene where the orcs run over a lake bridge and Legolas follows ahorse when the riding doesn't seems at all natural.

The best thing the movie did was to make me read the book again, to remember the real details...
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