Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Image via IMDB

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Oh wow, did this movie make my entire year! I think that all of us Tolkien fans have approached this trilogy with much-deserved skepticism, given that director Peter Jackson is stretching The Hobbit into three movies and padding the plot with a lot of invented material. Even as much as I love Legolas, I was worried that his cameo and the creation of Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly, weren’t going to add much value to the already amazing story.

However, I am so glad that this sequel lived up to my expectations, because very seldom has a 2 hour, 40 min movie been this exhilarating! Even my friend Celia, who is not familiar with the novel, enjoyed herself.

And how could you not? Every scene, from the lighthearted barrel escape to the dramatic confrontation between Gandalf and Sauron, kept you on the edge of your seat. It’s funny that despite already knowing the fates of these characters, every danger they faced still riveted me in suspense.

Of course, the magic of Tolkien is greatly enhanced in the 3D version. It’s still mind-blowing to see how far cinematic technology has come; watching the film with its high frame rate elevated the experience by immersing the audience in Middle-earth. You’ll appreciate each release of an arrow or buzz of a bee so much more if you spend those extra couple bucks and view the film the way it was intended to be viewed.

If you’re more impressed by acting than action scenes, not to worry either. It was easy to relate to each character, because they all had very specific motivations: Thorin and the dwarves to reclaim their homeland, Thranduil to protect Mirkwood from the evils of Dol Goldur, and Bard to make up for his ancestor’s failings and save Laketown.

That’s not to say these characters are one-dimensional. Martin Freeman did an amazing job portraying Bilbo, as we got to catch a glimpse of how the One Ring is slowly corrupting his mind. This usually good-natured hobbit is beginning to succumb to the darkness which will only be destroyed on Frodo’s own adventure.

But if you’re simply nodding your head impatiently, because you only care about one particular character, let me cut to the chase: Smaug has got to be the best depiction of a dragon that I have ever seen. Dare I say, possibly the best monster on film ever.

No image online will ever do Smaug justice!

I absolutely cannot wait to watch the behind-the-scenes footage to learn more about Smaug’s creation, because holy moly was he fantastic! And I’m not just saying that because he was voiced by the charming Benedict Cumberbatch, but let’s face it, that certainly helped!

I only docked this movie a half-point because with so much going on, oftentimes I felt that scenes changed too abruptly–especially during important moments like the one between Kili and Tauriel! And of course, the biggest abrupt change is the ending: yet another frustrating cliffhanger that forces fans to wait another year for the much-anticipated conclusion.

Let me know what you thought of “The Desolation of Smaug,” and be sure to check back soon for my final book review and my summary of 2013!

Movie Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I thought that I would just start out by saying this: For those of you who complained about “The Hobbit” being too long of a film, I have these three points:

1. Your attention span needs work, and I pity your inability to put down your phone long enough to recognize cinematic wonder.

2. You clearly have not paid attention to Peter Jackson’s body of work, because otherwise you would not be surprised by its length.

3. After waiting nine years to escape into Tolkien’s universe on-screen again, I left that theater wanting so much more. Only three hours of magic after over 78,000 hours of waiting?! If you whined even the teeniest bit, you are not a fan, and I don’t know why you even went.

As Twitter would add, #SorryNotSorry.

Ok, with that rant out of the way, I know that my awesome readers will be glad to hear that “The Hobbit” was well worth the wait! I’ll try not to give too much away if you haven’t seen it yet, but considering that the film has already made approx. $85 million dollars this weekend, breaking the December opening weekend record, chances are you’ve made a trip to your local theater.

The version I saw was the basic 2D, 24fps, but I’ll be checking it out again in 3D, 48fps, over the holidays, so I’ll make sure to provide an update of the visual differences. That being said, even though I didn’t see the film as it was intended to be seen, it’s still great eye candy. The fact that those landscapes actually exist on our planet still boggles my mind–and makes me want to book a flight to New Zealand, stat.

And speaking of eye candy, let me have a fangirl moment for a second. When “The Fellowship” was released, I was 11 years old, but seeing Orlando Bloom as Legolas on screen for the first time probably incited early puberty for many girls like myself. Never will elves be of the Keebler variety in my mind again.

Now I was under the impression that Legolas would make a cameo in “An Unexpected Journey,” but alas, we’ll all have to wait for “There and Back Again.” Although other elves, such as Elrond and Galadriel appear in their immortal glory, I went into the dwarf-centric film thinking that the odds of a character making me melt like before were nil.

That is, until this guy showed up.

Hello there, indeed...

Hello there, indeed…

When Kili barged into Bilbo’s hobbit hole, both the girl sitting next to me and I blurted out, “Hellllloooo,” as if to say, “Well, aren’t you a sight for sore eyes among a group of prosthetic noses and braided beards?” We promptly sat back, knowing this  movie just tipped into amazeballs territory.

I sincerely did not pay much attention to the casting, nor to any information, since I hate feeling like I’ve seen everything about a film before it’s hit theaters. I recall vaguely my mother mentioning this young Aragorn lookalike, but I’m glad my memory escaped me because it’s nice being pleasantly surprised.

(By the way, Kili’s played by a relatively unknown Irish actor named Aidan Turner. After a quick glance at his IMDb profile, clearly there’s an episode of “The Tudors” I need to rewatch.)

Ok, ok, I’ll stop. Angry rants and fangirl rambling, what has become of Book Club Babe? Apologies, moving right along…

What else can I add? The soundtrack was phenomenal, a wonderful balance between new and familiar. Not to mention, fans will enjoy the dwarf drinking song, which showcases Tolkien’s whimsy. The entire cast’s acting was excellent, from Martin Freeman’s reluctant bravery as Bilbo to Richard Armitage’s thirst for vengeance as Thorin.

And I don’t think an audience has been so excited to see a villain as we were when Gollum slinked in. There’s a reason Andy Serkis (who is part-Armenian, don’t ya know?) is king of motion-capture performance art. He was simply brilliant, and the riddle scene was everything I wanted and more.

I won’t provide a list of differences between the book and movie, but be aware that creative license is taken when emphasizing parts downplayed by Tolkien, such as the prominence of The White Council, the Necromancer, and even Radagast the Brown. Much of these changes I believe are to the viewer’s benefit, since Jackson pieces together information explained in The Silmarillion and the Appendices that otherwise would not be apparent since The Hobbit was told from Bilbo’s perspective.

So re-read the novel if you can, and make your own conclusions about this adaptation. Although nothing compares to the LOTR trilogy, Jackson follows through with another hit. Highly, highly recommended!