Managed to get to the cinema yesterday right after work and see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in the original version – such a treat!
The second movie in this trilogy is definitely better than the first – but only if one can accept the changes in the main story.
In a way the entire plot moves faster along and the jumps between the different stories also help a lot to forget how long the entire movie actually is. Okay, I was still annoyed whenever we go back to the stupid Orc plot but it’s necessary due to the events which will happen in the next movie.
I’ll just write down a few thoughts to the main locations and the scenes happening there because my mind is still too much all over the place to write one coherent review text:
The 3D effect for the bees during this entire sequence was awesome! Beorn is sadly nothing like I imagined him while reading the book and his entire human form is somehow off. He isn’t playing a huge role – yes, he keeps the Orcs away and lends the company his ponies but that’s nearly all we get from this character. Pretty sure there is going to be some sort of extra scene in the extended version, maybe one which will explain the giant bees for people who have not read the book.
This was the worst part – ESPECIALLY IN 3D! Of course I knew there would be giant spiders and that it would be difficult to watch this sequence but seriously: if you are afraid of spiders it’s hell. Too many details, far too big and close – AND CAN WE PLEASE NOT FORGET ABOUT HOW FUCKING FAST SPIDERS CAN MOVE AND JUMP AND EVERYTHING?! God. Luckily, there were nearly only women in my row and each one hated this part and was shrieking. During the fight scene I expected it to be finally over and then that thing jumps in Bilbo’s way and at first I was like please not a baby spider after all the other terrible ones – but I am actually not sure what type of insect he fought for the ring? Because it didn’t really look like a spider? Or maybe it’s just a really terrible and ugly sort I have never seen before… the entire scene of how they loose the track and keep going in circles was brilliant nonetheless.
The Palace of Mirkwood
I was really looking forward to see the palace and more of the elves and think it’s a shame we don’t see so much of it. There is probably going to be more content here in the extended version because alone the Bilbo plot is a bit weird – I mean, yeah, he’s running around and freeing the Dwarfs but we don’t get to see how he knows it’ll be okay for them to get into the barrels or how exactly he retrieves the keys. Thranduil himself is a pretty cool character and I can’t wait to see even more of him in part three!
Considering that they live close to Erebor and the dragon, the city looks pretty well. I somehow expected the master to be more of a peacock with more colors but the palette is pretty low key for the entire sequence. Lake-town isn’t rich and the people do suffer. Otherwise the company couldn’t tempt them so easily to help them get to Erebor with promises of former glory. What is a bit sad in this sequence is that although we get a lot of diversity in the people, we don’t get to see any old folk. I’m not entirely sure how the time frame is within The Hobbit movies and therefore it could of course make sense anyway but with all the age adjusting going on, it can’t be all too long since the fall of Dale. Shouldn’t there be any old folk still alive in Lake-town who could remember the events and also advise against the quest? And not only Bard? It just seemed a bit off to me. Also – the people do not hear Orcs running over the roofs, nor that the children in Bard’s house are screaming like crazy during the attack? Well, someone must have a deep sleep. And with a dragon living so close by a few watchmen should exists – even or especially if said dragon wasn’t seen for a long time because he might just wake up and decide to get himself a nice midnight snack. No pun indented.
Not overly looking forward to this sequence. Fine, we get to see what Gandalf is up to (and nicely enough he pretty much dumps Radagast before he goes in) but as we earlier get all the scenes with the Orcs here already, I didn’t want even more Orc scenes. The only part I really liked was the confrontation of Gandalf and the Necromancer – and how he’s first basically just dark shadows and then the eye emerges. Because the way it was done the entire idea of having the eye as a visual embodiment of Sauron somehow started to make a lot more sense for me – and I just loved how this one short scene takes us back to the prelude of the first LOTR movie!
The entire sequence is enlarged and could have been shorter – and some scenes were purely there for the action and 3D effect. I’m still not sure I like Smaug’s design but that’s also due to the fact how I used to imagine him. For example, yeah, we get some coins falling from his body to show that he has been sleeping on the whole pile for some time – but it’s not overly visible. I actually like this part in the book where it’s described how his body basically rots in the lake and all the gems and gold from his body are there, falling slowly from the rotting flesh but nobody dares diving down for this riches. Also all this gems and everything make it even harder to penetrate his skin so it could hurt. This scene won’t be as impressive as I hoped once it will happen I am afraid because Smaug isn’t overloaded with treasures. I started to get my hopes up at the final scene with the gold – however he casts it off pretty much and yeah, not living up to my imagination at all. Also why isn’t the gold melting at all if Smaug’s fire is so hot? Because the melting point of gold isn’t that high… anyway, Cumberbatch’s voice job is of course perfection! And the face off with Thorin/Smaug and the entire “I’m king under the mountain!” – wow, instant goosebumps. The dragon sickness is slowly starting to bleed into Thorin’s character and it’s going to be so interesting to see his fall! I think my favorite scene with him in this movie is how he stands in the room with all the corpses and just declares that he won’t die like this.
Also some thoughts on our two new main characters and their plots:
Surprise, surprise: they’re aiming for a love triangle with her character. No, not really. I liked her fighting scenes and her costume in general. The problem I have with the love triangle is the fact, that I don’t get the love vibe from her at all. Tauriel seems more to care for everyone and take an interest in them and not only for her immediate kin like Thranduil. She doesn’t seem to be in love with either Legolas or Kili; it seems more like she stays to help because she’s kind of impressed by his recklessness during the fight where he gets wounded as well as the way he talked to her in the dungeon than anything. I’m pretty sure we’ll get at least another extended scene with her and Legolas in Lake-town – because no way did he not notice that she didn’t follow him and if he’s in love like Thranduil suggests than he wouldn’t just take after the Orc either. At the moment I suppose her character will get a tragic part in the next movie with a lot of drama. Like trying to stop the entire elves involvement in the battle but failing or whatever but ultimately dying on the battleground.
Bard is going to play a huge role in the next part so we have to see more of him than we do in the book. I’m really intrigued to see why they chose to give him two daughters as well as a son and liked his plot so far. I like how in a way he’s the same as Thorin but treats his heritage rather differently (and it’s going to be so much fun to compare them once the trilogy is completed to Aragorn!). The only thing I had problems with was the bow – it’s described as a yew bow in the book and not a hybrid between bow and catapult. That thing just looked weird. There’s also sadly nothing about the fact that the race of Dale can understand thrushes and so can Bard as a descendant of them – instead he knows right away about the weak spot of Smaug due to a different backstory. Maybe after the whole Sebastian episode they didn’t want to add any more talking to animals and understanding them to the mix?
It may not seem like it with the ranting and everything but I actually did enjoy the movie. It has a good pacing, great locations, its funny moments and serves its purpose well – that is to set everything in motion which will ultimately bring us the Battle of the Five Armies. And that battle will probably take a huge role in the next movie – I don’t believe we’ll only get told all the major events by Gandalf but actually see a lot more, especially certain death scenes. I’m already looking forward to both, the extended edition and the last movie!