Monday, December 30, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

Main Takeaway:  long is the journey to the Lonely Mountain and it takes over two hours for our dwarf + Hobbit heroes to get into the hallowed halls of Erebor.  But it's a grand adventure to be had and you should tag along since there be dragons.

Verdict:  highly recommended, see it in high frame rate (HFR) 3D if you can

  • to paraphrase George Lucas, the movie is faster, quicker, more intense
  • somewhat analogous to the Two Towers, in that it's the middle act with more things going on now that we know the story and the characters better
  • Legolas is meaner than the gentile elf that we saw in LOTR but still a badass.  Maybe dwarf envy?
  • Tauriel is very pretty and very badass
  • Smaug is impressive (Benedict Cumberbatch did the motion capture but not sure if it was just the face or the whole dragon body, which would have been cool)
  • Martin Freeman may be a thief but still adds great humanity to being a Hobbit
  • the high frame rate experience is at first jarring but after a while, you get used to it. But if you get motion sick, you may want to take some Dramamine before seeing the movie.
  • not sure why the movie had to be 2 hours and 40 minutes.  It felt like there was a ton of filler that could have been trimmed.  
  • ends right at a cliffhanger, which I admire but it's also frustrating.  No, I'm not suffering dwarf envy! We just have to wait a whole year to see what happens next.
  • Gandalf goes rogue to do some LOTR set up stuff.  I blame the whole coming of Sauron on Gandalf's meddling and those stupid dwarves.
  • Main bad guy orc looks like an evil version of Jar Jar Binks.  Meesa thinks CGI bad guys needs more reality, less Jar Jar.
  • And yeah, the high frame rate is impressive and all, especially during the action sequences but during the slow scenes, looks totally fake
With a more streamlined plot, that quickly jumps from one scenic location to another, our heroes jump from one entanglement to another, often leading us to some harrowing action sequence that is a marvel to watch in 3D with high frame rate.  Much of the dull exposition that occurred in The Unexpected Journey is greatly reduced in this film (although the story does falter slightly when our heroes reach Lake-town) and you can feel the sense of urgency the dwarfs have in wanting to slay the evil dragon and regain their homeland.

The Gandalf side quest is a bit distracting at first but when you look at the grand scheme that is the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit being the prologue, it makes sense why Gandalf is more detective than wizard (although we see him using more of his wizardry skills than we did in the first movie).

Clocking in at 2 hours and 40 minutes, it's as long as the first movie, but faster, quicker, more intense and best of all, better action scenes.  Introducing Tauriel is an inspired decision Peter Jackson made in expanding Tolkien's universe but along the way, Jackson gets mired in needless story filler.  Still, it's much more fun than Unexpected Journey and it's a joy seeing Smaug in action.  Nice wink-wink pairing of Cumberbatch and Freeman sharing the same scenes together.

Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch
Written By: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Rated PG-13

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