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Old 12-15-2013   #4
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Default The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Hobbit Desolation of Smaug takes place right after the events of The Unexpected Journey, where Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian Mckellan), and the Dwarfs are still on their way back to reclaim their homeland from Smaug the Dragon (Benedcit Cumberbatch).

Now considering the mixed reaction from Critics and people alike on the Hobbit Part 1, many people were skeptical on how part 2 would hold up, and considering this one has a run time of nearly 3 hours, plus this being the live action theatrical debut of arguably one of the most well known fantasy villains, Smaug, there was a lot of reason to be skeptical. But the question remains, does this movie hold up in comparison to Jackson's Ring trilogy? Or is it under the same level that Hobbit Part 1 is to a lot of people?

First off the Acting. Now in a lot of Jackson's film he does make way for development for each of his characters, and considering the length of the Tolkein movies, this should be expected. But one problem a lot of people had with the first film is that it had too many characters and not really enough development to distinguish most of them, and here it is still somewhat the same. With the exception of Balin (Ken Stott), and Kili (Aidan Turner) none of the other Dwarves get any real character development. Even then, Kili has this extremely unessecary and stupid love triangle with and elf named Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) who Legolas (reprised by Orlando Bloom) is in love with. Speaking of elves, Tauriel is a character that again, doesn't get all that much character development outside of being in love with Kili, when he should be with Legolas, which could make for some great character development for all 3 of them, but it's all pushed aside for the many other plots following Gandalf, the Dwarfs, the Elves and so on, so it doesn't get a whole lot of focus. The main actors do do well though. Freeman is still good as Bilbo, Mckellan is great as Gandalf as always, and Richard Armitage, while being a bit too broody at points, does play off the character of Thorin well. We do get a few newer characters such as Thranduil (Lee Pace), the elf king and father of Legolas, but he is really just a big cliche in terms of the "villain that you know you can't trust and has way too much power and seems evil just for the sake of being evil," But again, he doesn't get a whole lot of focus, and to be honest, how he is portrayed is not very interesting, the character has this interesting backstory that is somewhat brushed over, and again, he doesn't get a whole lot of screen time. Gioron (Luke Evans) who is helps the Dwarfs get to Laketown, and while he does play the character very well, again he doesn't get a lot of screen time. Stephen Fry plays the Mayor of Laketown, and while having very little screen time, you can tell he was having fun, and he is entertaining in the role. Now I'm sure the characters that don't appear here in this film very much are most likely going to appear in the 3rd film more, but as of right now, we don't get to know these characters very well to care about a lot of them. The one character that definitely makes up for all the new characters, is definitely Smaug. Smaug is one of my favorite villains in literature, and finally seeing him on the big screen was fantastic, and as far as Benedict Cumberbatch's performance as Smaug, he was PERFECT. Cumberbatch is not only fantastic in the role, but he is flat out terrifying in the role. He is savoring every line he gets and the delivery is done so chillingly well with each line it just creeps you out, and don't know what's gonna set him off.

Now Effects. Now Jackson has been very good when it comes to mixing both practical effects and CGI, as illustrated in the past 3 LOTR films. Each scene looked great, and CG was used only when nesecarry which I really wish a lot of people did nowadays. But here, yeah...this is what I call "CG Orgy." What I mean by that is, nearly every scene is obviously filmed in front of a CG background, or has some form of CG effect in the scene, and it's okay for a while, but nearly 3 hours of this, it gets noticeable really fast. Now I'm not saying all the CG in the film is bad, in fact there are some very great looking CG effects, like Azog the Orc still is a great effect (even if the character wasn't in the book and just made him up for the film,) and Smaug, MY GOD! this is one of the best CG creatures I've ever seen. He looks very realistically reptilian, he looks threatening, and he is probably one of the biggest CG creatures I've seen in a fantasy film. But that being said there is one major drawback to having Smaug be so big, that problem being that, during the action scene with him and the Dwarves, he is so massive it is very hard to tell what is going on half the time due to his size. And a few of the backgrounds do look decent, but again, after a while it gets old and easily noticeable on what is clearly CG, and makes you wish there was a little more variety.

Now Action. Now this film does start off very slow, but the film does now how to mix the Action and dialogue in really well. Right at that point where it starts to drag and you get bored, they throw in an action scene, and yes while my CG complaints do hurt the scenes a bit, the scenes are still choreographed and shot really well. Also this film is much more brutal than the first film, since we get much more decapitations, impalements, arrows going through heads, its so violently entertaining to watch, even if it is annoying to me on how perfect (and very CG) Legolas is during the whole Orc battle. The battles are some of the most entertaining in the franchise, my favorite being the Orc battle just due to how adrenaline rushed you get while watching it, I swear in the theatre during most of it I just wanted to stand up and yell "F**K YES!!!" The one battle I was really hoping would be better was the Battle with Smaug, and yes while his size does get in the way sometimes, that's not the reason I think it's only an alright fight scene. The main reason its not a fantastic scene in my opinion is due to the fact that the scene just goes on,and on, and on, to the point that you kind of don't care anymore and you just want to end it, heck they fake you out a couple times make you think it is over, but nope it just keeps going and going. While yes it does go on forever, the scale of the battle is what makes it. How the characters plan on stopping him is very well thought out, and yes it does feel luck a lot of the fight was just luck, it is cool to see all of them working together to stop him. Even if *spoilers* it doesn't work.

Now I do have one complaint before I give my final thoughts, and yes this is a bit of a rant complaint. Now this is potential spoilers for those who haven't read the book, or didn't see this coming before going in. The Dwarves think they've captured Smaug by burying him in gold, but he then flies off to attack Laketown which the Dwarfs were trying to prevent. Bilbo then utters the line "What have we done?" and it cuts to black. Now the first film ended on a note of "Yea that was a good stand alone movie but it also does set itself up for a sequel really well" here it literally just stops saying, "Hey there's a sequel coming if you didn't know. Can't wait to get your money next year suckers." And I'm sorry but I can't stand when Movie or TV does that. Cliffhangers are things that really have to be done right, like the Marvel end credit scenes, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, or Batman Dark Knight Returns Part 1, where all of them are good stand alone films but don't just shove the end down your throat by cutting to black before something exciting, which doesn't really make me excited, more so angry since I knew a sequel was already coming and they just ended saying "HEY ANOTHER FILM'S OBVIOUSLY COMING. GIVE US YOUR MONEY MUHAHAHAHA"

Overall, aside from the somewhat annoying use of CG constantly, and the ending cliffhanger, I do think Hobbit Desolation of Smaug is a great movie, a little better than the first honestly. It does know how to balance the action and dialogue out well, has some good CG when it isn't shoved down your throat, and the action scenes are just awesome. If you liked the first hobbit your probably going to like this, for those looking for a good fantasy film to see this year, this is a good choice to go see(though I think Thor 2 Dark world would be a better choice.) Just make sure you have a few hours free.

Final Rating
4*s out of 5
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