Friday, December 13, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Movie Review

Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Déjà vu... Again

I have no idea where Middle-earth is; but I know this... they desperately need some sort of public transportation to make getting around easier. For the fifth film in a row (including the Lord of the Rings trilogy) a ragtag band of dwarves, elves, hobbits, etc. embark on a nearly 3-hour marathon over the river and through the hills... not to mention caves, forests, mountains and anywhere else director Peter Jackson fancies taking us. Jackson and his all too familiar cast of odd characters are back again in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, a near carbon copy of the first four films... and another 161 minutes (888 total) down the proverbial drain.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: The second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.

What’s Best: The effects are quite spectacular, especially an ultra-realistic bout with giant spiders that puts Spider-Man to shame. Jackson tells & paints a great story... one that fans of J. R. R. Tolkien will likely go gaga over. Too bad, I'm not one of them.

Things get interesting whenever Bilbo slips on the ring; although the most it does, is grant him invisibility. How cool would it be, if it enabled other powers? I'll also take Bilbo's "Mine!" after dusting off a spider to reclaim the ring, over a chorus of "Precious," any day of the week. Lastly, three cheers for new character Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) who brings much-needed personality to the elfin clan (and a welcome break from the male-dominated cast.)

What’s Not: If I could ask Jackson just one question, I'd ask him why he needs almost three hours to retell the same story over and over? It's not as if he has to. Take out a cave sequence here, and a mountain climb there; and you shave 30 minutes of suffering for folks like me. Cross out yet another recruitment session by "Coach" Gandalf, and we're suddenly talking about a two hour movie. Sounds better to me.

P.S. Enough with one guy (or gal) wiping out dozens of bad guys all by their lonesome. If I want to play a video game on EASY level, I'll do it... Movies should have some semblance of realism, even fantasy films.

Best Line: '100 years is a mere blink of an eye for an elf,' warns Thranduil (Lee Pace.) Unfortunately, 161 minutes seems to be a blink of an eye for director Jackson. I much prefer Thranduil's 'I freed his wretched head from his pathetic shoulders,' when explaining a kill to son Legolas (Orlando Bloom.) That's what I'm talking about!

Overall: Read my review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey from last year, and you'll notice most of the same complaints. I expect next year's There and Back Again will be even more of the same. Fans seem to want it this way; and Jackson appears resigned to give it to them (and more.) I'm taking the grade down a notch, thanks to three naps in between countless looks at my watch. Half the time, it sounds like the characters are speaking a completely different language... I don't care who (or what) is Oakenshield or Arkenstone; and there's zero chance I'll remember it five minutes after you tell me. I can barely keep track of the main character's names. One dwarf comments early on, 'It's not natural, none of it.' Amen to that.