The Book: 1937
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (HarperCollins; originially published by George Allen & Unwin)
The Film: 2013
The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug directed by Peter Jackson (New Line Cinemas and MGM)
***WARNING: SPOILER ALERT***
As soon as I got home from the theatre from finally watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug I immediately sat down at my computer to write this post. Too many thoughts to jot down before sleep stole them from me. I knew entering the theatre that this second installment of The Hobbit was not going to be by-the-book—I learned that lesson early on in the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. That said, part way through this one I had to consciously force myself to look at this movie as an extension of the first, not as a telling of the book, because I found myself getting angry at the changes and additions not present in Tolkien’s version. Once I accepted that, I was able to enjoy the movie more.
Part Two was entertaining enough and the actors (except for the children) did a great job. Especially Martin Freeman—I love the tics and mannerisms he brings to Bilbo! And, of course, visually it was very exciting; however, I did find the 3-D bits a bit gimmicky—it was easy to pick out the parts that were added purely for 3-D effects. Also, Smaug and his treasure hoard were pretty awesome (though I’m not even going to touch the melted gold scene) and I’m looking forward to seeing more of this beast.
Given that only about 30% of the movie was actually in the book (and even that percent is greatly tweaked), I’m not going to pick apart every little change. But…there were several things about this film that irked me so if you will indulge me for a few moments, here comes my Hobbit rant.
First up, Tauriel. I accept that Tauriel’s story is completely made up and I even like this warrior lady elf played by Evangeline Lily (even though it’s weird seeing her in anything but LOST). I enjoyed her fighting off spiders in Mirkwood and talking about starlight in the elven dungeon with Fili, but the part in Lake-town? Not so much. It really just felt like a rehashing of Arwen saving Frodo from a similar wound with the same plant in The Fellowship of the Ring.
And was Fili’s being left behind purely to add some romance to the story? Because isn’t it like some unwritten dwarf code that no dwarf gets left behind? Shame on Thorin!
I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired of orc fights. I get that it makes for a more concise storyline to have the orcs be after them all along instead of only at the beginning and end, but come on, doesn’t the company have enough to deal with without the orcs crashing the party every few minutes? I think the film could have been just as exciting without all of the added orc fights.
Some changes are good, like tightening up the timeline, and giving characters more backstory so that we care about them. For the most part, I am okay with these changes…except with Bard. This new story about the black arrows being the only weapon that can take down a dragon belittles Bard’s skill. He is the savior because he is an expert marksman, not because his arrow is special.
Then there is the mystery of Bombur’s second barrel. Okay, his fighting orcs from inside a barrel was funny, but why was there an extra barrel just waiting for him in the river? With one barrel per dwarf, who died for that one to be free? And I laughed out loud when Balin told Bilbo the courage of hobbits always manages to surprise him; pretty sure Bilbo is the only hobbit any of the dwarves have dealt with. This felt like a stand in for Gandalf’s moment with Frodo in LOTR.
Almost done ranting, I promise.
Even if I accept everything else that has been changed or added, deleted or reinvented, there is one major elephant-in-the-room problem that I can’t let go: Gandalf clearly knows Sauron is back! I like that Peter Jackson is showing the audience what Gandalf is up to when he leaves the company as that’s a mystery in the book, but…LOTR is sixty years after The Hobbit; why has no one made a move to prevent Sauron coming to power? Has Gandalf just been sitting on his thumbs for sixty years? I hope the reason for this sixty year gap is explained in the last Hobbit movie because it doesn’t make sense to me.
All right, rant over. *phew*
The Desolation of Smaug had some pretty spectacular scenes, but overall, I think I enjoyed the first movie more… However, it did leave me very intrigued to find out how the end of the story is handled and see the fall of Smaug. Is it a movie I’m going to watch every year like I do LOTR? No… but it is a movie I will watch again.
What did you think of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug? Share your answers in comments.
And be sure to check out my review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey here.
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