Film Review. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

posted at 10:01 am on December 28, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

To get the usual disclaimer out of the way, the following entry is a review of the 2013 film, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, and will contain significant spoilers. If you have not seen the film and do not wish to have information about the plot revealed in advance, stop reading now.

Peter Jackson’s second entry in his trilogy (!) of films somewhat loosely based on Tolkien’s classic short story has been in theaters for a couple of weeks, and yesterday I took a seat in a still packed venue to take in the spectacle. (You can read my review of the original film here as well as Ed’s somewhat differing opinion.) Viewers will be in for some very similar themes when watching this film, as well as a few changes.

To start with, I will give Jackson credit for his usual level of excellence in film production in this genre. Whether you’re talking about the live action film work, the extensive CGI, the costumes, the music, the background scenery and footage or the other elements which go into a big budget, massive, action packed flick, he does not disappoint. The movie is right up there with his previous work and will doubtless attract attention in the technical categories for various awards shows. I will also say that this movie tells a darned fine story, assuming you go into it realizing that it’s the middle section of a three part tale. It all depends on how strongly you feel the movie should stick to the original plot, and therein lies the problem.

During my review of the first film I expressed reservations (to put it kindly) about a few areas where Jackson had embellished the first third of The Hobbit, drawing on supplemental materials and taking liberties with a number of the key events in the story. In The Desolation of Smaug, the director makes the first film look like a line for line recitation of the book, dashing off into unexplored territory, significantly rewriting major portions of the story and inserting new bits which are summoned from whole cloth out of the ether.

One major theme which has become obvious is that Peter Jackson was somewhat disappointed that The Hobbit was not originally written as much of a precursor to the plot of Lord of the Rings. In reality, the two stories were only superficially connected until Tolkien released additional materials, such as those found in The Silmarillion. Bilbo appears in the trilogy, but only as a mostly retired character. Gandalf is the only truly main, critical character common to both. The Ring of Power is the connecting object, but in The Hobbit, it’s more of a parlor trick toy, allowing Bilbo to become invisible while carrying out his various burglar activities. In this film, Jackson takes a frequently overblown, ham-fisted approach to forcing the story as a foreshadowing of The Lord of the Rings, going to great lengths to show Bilbo’s growing addiction to the bauble. He comes close to confessing that he has it to Gandalf, saying he “found something” in the Goblin caves, whereupon the wizard becomes immediately dramatic and suspicious, asking what he found until the hobbit ducks out with an answer about finding “his courage.” Even Smaug gets in on the act, asking Bilbo about something he brought with him which is “gold and…. precious“.

Other disconnects abound, with Legolas playing a leading role, though he never appeared in the book. He is joined by an entirely new, never before heard of female, elven warrior played by Evangeline Lilly. (She plays one heck of an elven warrior… don’t get me wrong. And I loved her in the television series Lost, but come on.)

The battle scenes in this offering are even more over the top than the first one. They go beyond comical and make the fights in both Starship Troopers and every 70′s Kung Fu movie you ever watched seem believable. This is particularly true when the aforementioned elves are battling the orcs. (The ORCS! Who don’t even appear in The Hobbit beyond a token mention.) Cartoonish fights aside, many of the critical plot sections are completely rewritten by Jackson and company. I mean, who didn’t love the part in the original book where the dwarves trick Smaug into lighting the ancient forges and, in a matter of moments, smelting enough molten gold to create a fast flowing river to drown the dragon, who then flies into the sky like some sort of animated Comicon trophy?

I could go on with this for pages, but you should be getting the general idea. So in terms of a rating, this is rather tricky. If you are someone who has never read the book, or has read it but doesn’t really care at all about the movie following it, you may find this to be a fast paced, high tech outing in the sword and sorcery genre which you really enjoy. If you are anything approaching a Tolkien purist, you’ll probably leave the theater grumbling and cursing. If you fall into the former category, I’ll give Desolation of Smaug a 5 on the Ed Morrissey rating system, since you should really see it on the big screen. If you lean more toward the latter, it’s probably worth downloading on Netflix instant streaming next year if you have a slow weekend to kill.


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Count me as a long time Tolkien “purist”, or how about just someone who thinks Tolkien is a little bit better storyteller than Philip Jackson doing a Michael Bay impersonation.

Tom Servo on December 28, 2013 at 10:11 AM

This is particularly true when the aforementioned elves are battling the orcs. (The ORCS! Who don’t even appear in The Hobbit beyond a token mention.)

Generally agree with the review, although Goblins and Orcs are meant to be synonymous.

I can understand why Jackson made some of the changes. Having Azog chase the dwarves in the first movie was meant to provide some dramatic tension in a journey that was very much “the company travelled east; the company found the trolls; the company went to Rivendell, etc.” So, I can understand some continuation of the chase by Bolg in the second movie.

Unfortunately, the Legolas scenes all seemed rather extraneous — my best guess is that Jackson’s inclusion of Legolas (and the strange love triangle story with his girlfriend and one of the dwarves) was simply meant to try to appeal to females in the audience. It added little or nothing to the story, and took up a great deal of time. The changes to Bard were also somewhat disappointing, but that’s probably more a matter of taste.

The scenes in Erebor with the dwarves fighting the dragon I can forgive somewhat. In the Hobbit, the scope of the company’s quest starts out very small — they are going to Erebor not really to fight the dragon so much as to steal stuff from him (Gandalf even says that it was due to the strength of the dragon that he settled on burglary as the focus of the quest). Jackson may have been able to take this line from the beginning, setting the goal of the quest as recovery of the Arkenstone (perhaps). But instead it appears that Jackson kept the purpose of the quest focused on recovery of Erebor from Smaug. With that goal in mind, it makes more sense for the dwarves to at least try to kill Smaug (otherwise, why are they there at all?). And, the rendering of Smaug in the halls of Erebor is truly awesome.

Revenant on December 28, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Funniest thing I discovered is that Tolkien fans originally were like rabid Trekkies. The main reason Tolkien wrote his books was to promote the languages he invented, and he based the books around them, in turn gaining a huge fan base. Those same fans learned Tengwar (language of Elves). Kinda like hardcore Trekkies learning Klingon (yes…that’s an actual spoken language as well).

So any true purist of Tolkien would be babbling right now in Tengwar about the injustice of it all…or something along those lines.

Renee on December 28, 2013 at 10:35 AM

I was looking forward to this series. I expected Peter Jackson to give it the beauty and nuance he showed in the 1st Lord of the Rings film. No. This is a pointless shoot-em-up that made me leave the theater angry. I reread the Hobbit just to get the bad taste of this movie out of my mouth.

quill67 on December 28, 2013 at 10:41 AM

I had never read any of Tolkien’s books prior to seeing the LoTR on the big screen, so when they announced The Hobbit my daughter and I decided to read the book before going to see it in the theaters. While I can see your point, from a purist’s view, Jackson has created a fantastic movie that does follow in Tolkien’s form and function; and above all else, as a kid’s story, this movie delivers–especially due to those comical fight scenes. After taking my daughter (8yo) to see this yesterday she couldn’t stop talking about how much fun the scenes were including the barrel riding, the elves battling the orcs, or the Dwarves tricking Smaug were compared to the book. As much as I like directors sticking to the original material for movies I’m giving Jackson a pass on this one, because it was a fantastic ride.

smfoushee on December 28, 2013 at 10:41 AM

This film series is nothing w/o Greg Gutfeld & Dana Perino as elves & hobbits

philw1776 on December 28, 2013 at 10:54 AM

I’ve read only The Hobbit and not LOTR, so maybe that’s where some of my disappointment in the new movies stems from. But while An Unexpected Journey was good, Desolation of Smaug was kind of a dull and tedious experience. I liked the first hour, but once Legolas and Tauriel(I think that’s the name of the character played by Kate from Lost) showed up, it was all downhill. They had nothing to do with the story(literally, given the source material) and were clearly inserted to drag things out over three films and add more action and romance. And the stuff with Smaug got annoying after awhile. Seriously, Jackson had Bilbo in there for what seemed like over a half hour! And to end it on a cliffhanger with Smaug not even defeated yet?! I can’t believe I’m saying this, but they actually might have left themselves with too much story to cover in the third and final entry next year.

Other complaints(or nitpicks). Orlando Bloom looked bizarre with his CGI’d face. Plus he’d packed on quite a few lbs since the first trilogy. The score was forgettable. The first mediocre effort by Howard Shore in the series. The CGI was uneven. And for a movie(s) called “The Hobbit”, Bilbo seemed like an afterthought at times. That’s in part due to the aforementioned superfluous nonsense with the elves, but if Jackson was gonna deviate from the source material, why not come up with something for Bilbo to do so he gets more screentime(much as he did in the LOTR trilogy for Frodo and Sam)?

On a side note, I was able to catch this entry in HFR 3D(I saw the first one in IMAX 3D which was 24 FPS). It took a little while to adjust to it, but in the end it looked a lot like watching something on a plasma or LCD with motion smoothing turned on. I prefer 24 FPS, but it didn’t look bad or too distracting.

Doughboy on December 28, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Jackson owns the story as much as Tolkien at this point. I’d rather have 2 extra films of entertainment than one verbatim recreation of the original book with embarrassing sing-a-longs and a pitch black screen for the blinding darkness of the forest and darker still and yet still darker and silliness of the book.

He owns the story so much so that I hope he eventually decides to make a new story based on the middle earth premise.

I was entertained. Purpose fulfilled.

dougless on December 28, 2013 at 11:10 AM

I saw ‘Smaug’ in 3D, which was the first full-length 3D movie I had ever seen. While technically good, the studio’s desire to spread the Hobbit out into 3 films was a disaster. The initial movie was good, but Smaug did not become interesting until about 10 minutes before the final credits rolled. Smaug was so empty I predict a lot of LOTR fans will buy only films 1 and 3 of the Hobbit, unless the money grubbing producers decide to offer number 3 only in a package with 1 and 2.

In short. If you have not seen Smaug, skip it.

By contrast Christmas night I saw the ‘The Croods’ for the first time on DVD. I laughed, I cried, I ran the gamut. Buy it. It’s funny, intelligent and the voice-actors nailed all their lines.

doufree on December 28, 2013 at 11:13 AM

I have no desire to see anything with a title like
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

Honest Trailers: The Hobbit Unexpected Journey

I thought Screen Junkies did one for Smaug. I know one of their videos mentions Smaug, maybe it’s that one.

I somewhat enjoyed the LOTR movies, but I’ve never been too into the fantasy genre with dragons and stuff. I’ve never seen the appeal and find fantasy genre rather dull.

TigerPaw on December 28, 2013 at 11:15 AM

On a side note, I was able to catch this entry in HFR 3D(I saw the first one in IMAX 3D which was 24 FPS). It took a little while to adjust to it, but in the end it looked a lot like watching something on a plasma or LCD with motion smoothing turned on. I prefer 24 FPS, but it didn’t look bad or too distracting.

Doughboy on December 28, 2013 at 11:00 AM

I’ve seen both versions (not because I overly liked the movie but because I saw it once with friends and another with family)

I agree the HFR looked like watching a large LCD screen with motion smoothing (saw it that way first) but what really surprised me was that the IMAX resolution was LESS than the HFR. The HFR resolution was higher than the IMAX version. if they could keep the resolution but lose the motion smoothing I think they’d have a real winner on their hands.

Oh – and Dolby Atmos rulez!

The movie itself? Oh yeah…er… what Jazz said. The Hobbit is a fun and fanciful tale – This, not so much…

Skywise on December 28, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Saw it in IMAX last night and it was certainly epic and viscerally stunning. It did seem to drag a bit, especially in the cave. But, as mentioned above, the cgi rendering of Smaug was awesome to behold, as were even more minor simulations, such as the piles of treasure & the molten gold. I’m not a Tolkien purist, by any means, but I was disappointed in the radical deviations from the book — the persistent role of the Orcs, especially — although it far from ruined the experience. I made myself chuckle because I was thinking that so much of the action, such as the dwarves’ Rube Goldberg-ish trickery in the cave, was “unrealistic” — until I reminded myself that it was a movie about elves, dwarves, and hobbits fighting Orcs & a dragon in a mystical world. So, if you don’t get hung up on that, and you take the plot & action on face value, without comparing it too much to the source material, (and if you see it in IMAX, of course), I think you’ll have a very enjoyable time.

KS Rex on December 28, 2013 at 11:26 AM

The first film was bad, from a Tolkien fan’s standpoint, but was watchable for the few bits of the Hobbit that did make it into the film and that it was entertaining. This second film is just awful. It’s Transformers set in Middle earth. While the production values are still there the acting and story are awful.Cumberbatch’s Smaug is a joke compared to Richard Boone and overall the acting was much better in the 1977 cartoon. Orlando Bloom looked terrible, even with all the help, and he barely read his lines. The rest can probably blame the script. This film is nothing but made up meaningless filler to stretch a book which that doesn’t have 3 hours worth of story into 8+ hours of film.

Rocks on December 28, 2013 at 11:38 AM

My little story about these books:

I first became acquainted with the Ring Trilogy back in 1975 as a new mother when my husband brought home a very tattered copy from a used book store of Bored of the Rings by the Harvard Lampoon. We were poor and this is where we got all our books.
Here’s the exact cover on that book>>>>>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bored_of_the_Rings

Even that book was spell binding. I read it twice.

…….I had no idea there was an original book (young, I was) until a few years later when he then found a used copy of Lord of the Rings and I almost squealed in delight at this discovery. Totally knocked out. Addictive. Of course, then we both read all the books, one by one, with each being a surprise to me that they existed. It was like finding bars of chocolate hidden in the house, eating/savoring it, thinking that was the last one…….until the next bar of chocolate was discovered. We/I read The Hobbit last, and again was knocked out in delicious surprise to know it existed. (Deprived, I was). So sad to look and eventually realize (after searching and searching) there were no more books of the Ring to be found/read.

A few years later, it helped when he discovered this calandar which I kept for years because of it’s beautiful pictures which, being an artist, I treasured until it was a tattered mess itself, falling apart. >>>>>>http://www.tolkiencalendars.com/BAL1977.html

It disappeared, and I have no idea who/when/where it went. I really grieved over this loss. The Brothers Hildebrand were great artists and brought this story to life. I thumbed through that calandar, over and over, reliving the stories in my mind. *sigh*

Of course, the movies have been great too. But, the books……..books and the pictures in one’s head…. are hard to beat. :)

avagreen on December 28, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Peter Jackson’s second entry in his trilogy (!) of films somewhat loosely based on Tolkien’s classic short story…

The Hobbit is not a short story; it is an actual book. Making it into a trilogy was just Peter Jackson’s attempt to rake in bundles of money. Having the Lord of the Rings released as a trilogy actually made sense, since there were three books in the series; The Hobbit: not so much.

And personally, I’m waiting for the DVD set to come out before watching any of the movies.

RoadRunner on December 28, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Peter Jackson changed the LOTR story as well, a fact that has never pleased me. It’s no surprise he did it again and probably only for the extra money it will generate.

It’s a shame really. People want to see Tolkien and what they will get is disappointment.

dogsoldier on December 28, 2013 at 12:09 PM

The score was forgettable. The first mediocre effort by Howard Shore in the series. — Doughboy

I am still kicking myself for pre-ordering the score. What a boring mush of nothingness!

catsandbooks on December 28, 2013 at 12:27 PM

This is precisely why I watched each Lord of the Rings film before I read the corresponding book … and why I have avoided reading The Hobbit until after the final film comes out.

aunursa on December 28, 2013 at 12:30 PM

I wonder how many movies it would take for Peter Jackson to cover, say, the Dragonlance novels.

I took my daughter, since I had been taking her to all of them since LOTR.

I’ve learned to be disappointed by film adaptations of novels, so I can’t complain too much. These movies wish to appeal to a wide audience to maximize sales, and it’s unfortunate, but since I don’t have the means to make movies myself, not much can be done.

Thus, we get the absurd mine-cart chase and the barrels-down-the-river chase.

reaganaut on December 28, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Bored of the Rings by the Harvard Lampoon.

avagreen on December 28, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Ah, Bored of the Rings. Fabulous, funny, clever book. First read it from a stack of used paperbacks in a waiting room after my brother had been plucked from a ski slope with frost bite. Must read for any Tolkien fan.

Having read The Hobbit and LOTR multiple times and being somewhat of a “purist”, I have to say I still have enjoyed The Hobbit movies, even with the additions and departures. Then again, my expectation is that movies rarely are completely faithful to the books (see “Harry Potter”). The Hobbit movies are more cartoony than the LOTR movies but that is understandable as the book was intended for children. This movie follows that tradition with over-the-top fight scenes, along with clownish antics and physical comedy by the dwarves. Jackson’s additions of the female elf and Legolas are superfluous but they don’t change the core story so I didn’t mind. Female characters are few and play very minor roles in Tolkien’s original works, which never bothered me in the least when I was reading them, but it is fun to see some on-screen. I thought Cumberbatch’s voice for Smaug was perfect and the CGI was fantastic. Steven Fry as the Master was an unexpected delight.

My children (18 and 22), both familiar with The Hobbit, loved the movie. My husband, who rarely ever reads fiction and is completely unfamiliar with Tolkien, thought the fight scenes too lengthy and too numerous and gave the film a resounding “ok”.

inmypajamas on December 28, 2013 at 12:37 PM

I generally liked The Hobbit 2: The Search for More Money, but the hubby and I couldn’t help bursting out laughing when elf Bella was healing dwarf Jacob and became all glowy and magical. It was a bit much.

vermillionsky on December 28, 2013 at 12:46 PM

The only way to make a purist version of either LOTR or The Hobbit would have to be in multiple (like 12 minimum) parts, there’s just too much to them. I love all the Tolkien books I’ve gotten my hands on.

But I also love the movie versions Peter Jackson has made. They are entertaining and well-made(imo). The natural scenery is exquisite – but so are his renditions of elfin and human kingdoms. I’m not sure the romance triangle in Desolation was necessary but I’m not going to let it detract from the rest of the movie, which I loved watching with my kids.

Shay on December 28, 2013 at 12:50 PM

(The ORCS! Who don’t even appear in The Hobbit beyond a token mention.)

you blew on that one,

chasdal on December 28, 2013 at 12:58 PM

A very disappointing movie. Peter Jackson could have saved the $100 million or so spent on CG and cram the story into just two films, or even one. He and his studio bosses obviously got greedy here (and, admittedly, from a business perspective their decisions have played out quite well). The ‘barrel’ scene is a case in point: It was initially one of the few features true to the book, and I really enjoyed it for two minutes. Then the Orcs, who indeed played no more than a minor part in Tolkien’s story, arrive to the scene, and the whole thing turns into a CG extravaganza reminiscent of a Super Mario Bros. video game.

In addition, the Middle Earth panoramas look boring and fake compared to the vistas displayed in the original trilogy. The ruins in which Gandalf faces Sauron (what the hell is he doing here!?) look like they came out of the Harry Potter movies. And the grey backdrops with low-hanging sun surrounding the city of Dale are just lame.

Finally, they could have spared us the return of Legolas, who looks like he’s added 20 pounds and put in colored contact lenses to make himself look prettier or something. He was obviously just added to make a connection to the first trilogy, which doesn’t exist in the book.

In general it’s clear Jackson has tried to create another LOTR trilogy from a story which just isn’t that epic. The Hobbit is a very witty and nice story, but the great (conservative!) themes in The Lord of the Rings — the fallibility of men, Aragorn making a psychological journey to assume his true role, heroism in the face of danger and adversity, etc. — have not yet fully developed in this little book. This even trickles down to The Hobbit’s soundtrack, which doesn’t contain any of the epic bombast from the original trilogy’s score, though both were composed by Howard Shore.

Alexis on December 28, 2013 at 12:59 PM

I wonder how many movies it would take for Peter Jackson to cover, say, the Dragonlance novels.

I took my daughter, since I had been taking her to all of them since LOTR.

I’ve learned to be disappointed by film adaptations of novels, so I can’t complain too much. These movies wish to appeal to a wide audience to maximize sales, and it’s unfortunate, but since I don’t have the means to make movies myself, not much can be done.

Thus, we get the absurd mine-cart chase and the barrels-down-the-river chase.

reaganaut on December 28, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Chronicles and Legends and I’d be lost in heaven. Though I could not imagine any actor doing justice to my and many others favorite character of all time, Raistlin.

njrob on December 28, 2013 at 1:24 PM

avagreen on December 28, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Heh. I had the third of those old Hildebrandt Brothers calendars, the 1978 one. Alas, it went the way of all things. Probably tossed by my parents when I went off to school in LA. I think my ’69 Mets baseball cards and my #1 Spiderman disappeared about that time. Well, I suppose if they hadn’t gotten to them one of my old girlfriends would have. That’s why such things are rare.

trigon on December 28, 2013 at 1:27 PM

What I took away from the film. . . . .

if I ever encounter a Dwarf or Elf, I will make triple sure that I address them as “Sir” or “Ma’am”. . . . they are incredible killing machines!

The Orcs, although apparently powerful and cruel and vicious and ferocious, were killed like flies at the hands of the non-threatening appearing Dwarfs and Elves. . . . . . !!!!

Narniaman on December 28, 2013 at 1:31 PM

chasdal on December 28, 2013 at 12:58 PM

In the book, orcs were not running over the roofs in Dale in pursuit of the dwarves. The whole vendetta between Thorin and Bolg is almost entirely fabricated.

Alexis on December 28, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: the Desecration of Tolkien.”

rrpjr on December 28, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Encountered Hobbit and LoTR in college. Encountered the Hildebrandt calendars later and have all of them. And the background books released by Christopher Tolkien. My kids had Hobbit and LoTR as bedtime stories.

While the LoTR movies by Jackson were far from perfect [particularly miffed at the lack of a "Scouring of the Shire"]; they were still excellent retellings with the knowledge that they had to condense greatly to get the saga on film.

The Hobbit was largely rewritten, and did not survive. I know the guy who owns our local theater. Saw the first Hobbit, told him as we were going in for the second that if the second was not better that the first; our family would not bother with the third.

vermillionsky on December 28, 2013 at 12:46 PM

+10 and stolen [with attribution] to pass on.

Subotai Bahadur on December 28, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Having read The Hobbit and LOTR multiple times and being somewhat of a “purist”, I have to say I still have enjoyed The Hobbit movies, even with the additions and departures. Then again, my expectation is that movies rarely are completely faithful to the books (see “Harry Potter”). The Hobbit movies are more cartoony than the LOTR movies but that is understandable as the book was intended for children. This movie follows that tradition with over-the-top fight scenes, along with clownish antics and physical comedy by the dwarves. Jackson’s additions of the female elf and Legolas are superfluous but they don’t change the core story so I didn’t mind. Female characters are few and play very minor roles in Tolkien’s original works, which never bothered me in the least when I was reading them, but it is fun to see some on-screen. I thought Cumberbatch’s voice for Smaug was perfect and the CGI was fantastic. Steven Fry as the Master was an unexpected delight.

inmypajamas on December 28, 2013 at 12:37 PM

I tend to agree on most points.

What I liked:

Loved Stephen Fry was great as the Master of Lake-Town. Martin Freeman does a great Bilbo. Tauriel was, much to my surprise, believable as a character, although the pseudo-love triangle between her, Legolas, and Kili was ridiculous. The barrel scene was surprisingly fun, although the named Elves’ (Legolas and Tauriel) combat abilities were overdone, while the unnamed elves at the river gate go down like chumps. Thranduil was pretty good, although the scene where he goes all “Pirates of the Caribbean” on his face was bizarre.

Loved Cumberbatch as Smaug (except for the nit-pick that what Jackson created seemed like a half-wyvern (which has two legs + wings)/half-dragon (which should have 4 legs + wings) mix. Smaug had two legs + combination wings/front legs. Despite that, he looked and sounded great.

What I didn’t like:

There was sooooo much filler between the first two Hobbit movies so far, that I can definitely say they should’ve done 2 movies instead of 3. I remember hearing that they were putting in a lot from the appendices, but there’s stuff that was made up out of whole cloth. Also, Beorn did not get anywhere near enough screen time. The nonsense with the Nazgul (Ringwraiths) having broke out of their tombs was pointless, and needlessly confusing to everyone. People who know the lore behind the Nazgul are scratching their heads at this, and those who don’t were probably confused. Starting the “Ring effects” on Bilbo even though he’s only had the ring for a matter of days/weeks was lame.

Legolas was only passably acted by someone who played him in three movies before. Also, the antagonism that the Elves had for the Dwarves in the book was based upon the Dwarves crashing the Elves’ feasting in the woods. There is no such basis on the Elves’ part in the movie for how cranky Thranduil and Legolas are, aside from something to the effect of “Your greed brought the dragon” which is just lame.

Bard was poorly portrayed, which is sad. I thought the actor did a great job acting and would have been a believable character otherwise, but it feels like Bard had what I call the “Faramir treatment” from the LOTR trilogy. Different character than what was in the book, considering how important the character is to the overall story. Bard should have had more of a noble bearing, and position. I could have seen him as a respected member of the community, and expected him to play something like the leader of the guard/bowmen or something, considering that he is of the line of the kings of Dale. Not just a boatman.

Splitting the Company up in Lake-Town was dumb, Kili shouldn’t have been wounded (Insert joke: I used to be an adventurer like you, until I took an arrow in the knee leg). The whole Orcs and Tauriel in Lake-Town, looking for Athelas, etc. scene just didn’t work for me. It seemed the sole purpose was to build the relationship between Tauriel and Kili. This just further annoys me at what otherwise could have been a believable character addition. Oh, Kili dies in the book, just so you know. Spoilers and all that.

Overall:

The movie was fun, and I liked it, even perhaps a bit more than the first Hobbit movie. Despite being a Tolkien purist, I try to look at the LOTR and Hobbit movies like this: In the in-universe history, the adventures of Bilbo and Frodo (and their companions) are written in a book, authored by Bilbo and Frodo. I try to think of the movies as coming from another source within the universe, one who either didn’t get the facts right, or who embellished the story. Once I do that, it doesn’t bother me much, and I can enjoy the show.

avagreen on December 28, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Have you tried The Silmarillion or The Tale of the Children of Hurin? Both were collected and edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien. The latter is a more fleshed-out version of a shorter story in The Silmarillion. A bit more tragic, but definitely Tolkien.

He owns the story so much so that I hope he eventually decides to make a new story based on the middle earth premise.

dougless on December 28, 2013 at 11:10 AM

Oh, goodness no. That would be horrible. I would have to join my fellow Tolkien fans with pitchforks and torches.

Othniel on December 28, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Son. of. a. B*tch.

I just lost a long comment because the page decided to refresh. WTF?

That sucks….

nukemhill on December 28, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Jackson could spend the rest of his life making movies from the Silmarillion, although I would prefer a truer adherence to the original story lines, and I imagine that it’s open theology might make producers squeamish. I enjoyed Desolation of Smaug to a point, although its departures from Tolkein’s narrative do irritate me. His insistence on making Goblins a seperate species from Orcs is a needle in my side, and the scene with Beorn should have been longer and more accurately retold. Likewise, the Dwarves in the book never even enter the mountain until Smaug has left it to search for them. This series would have been much tighter and better told without all the fabricated cheese. Why does every movie made nowadays have to be a nonstop rollercoaster ride with no actual drama in it to make the characters sympathetic?

SteveThomas on December 28, 2013 at 2:41 PM

avagreen on December 28, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Have you tried The Silmarillion or The Tale of the Children of Hurin? Both were collected and edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien. The latter is a more fleshed-out version of a shorter story in The Silmarillion. A bit more tragic, but definitely Tolkien….

Othniel on December 28, 2013 at 1:59 PM

I think that somewhere in the past, I ran across a copy of the Silmarillion….I think I put it down or something as it was so diffferent, as best as I can remember.

I’ll have to order both of those now that I have more time on my hands. Thanks!

avagreen on December 28, 2013 at 3:13 PM

His insistence on making Goblins a seperate species from Orcs is a needle in my side,
SteveThomas on December 28, 2013 at 2:41 PM

So……..where does he indicate the Orcs came from??

avagreen on December 28, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Y’all, the Dwarves and Bilbo *do* end up as “guests” of Thranduil, who *is* the father of Legolas. I expected a Legolas storyline from the moment the movies were announced.

Sekhmet on December 28, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Going to the Hobbit movies has suddenly become a Christmas tradition for me, my oldest son and my oldest grandson (he gets to come along because my son and I need someone to go get the free refills of popcorn and pop.) My son and I sit through the end credits snarking the movie. This is one of the best “family-togetherness” activities to come along in a long, long time. We will be sorry to lose it after next year, no matter how badly Jackson has twisted the damn thing.

catsandbooks on December 28, 2013 at 3:27 PM

So I saw this movie a couple of weeks ago at the Big D theater in 3-D. Fell asleep 15 minutes into the movie, so I missed the first part of the Mirkwood forest scene. However, thankfully I woke up just in time to meet Legolas and the female Elf who falls in love with one of the dwarves. Wait…what? Does anyone else have a problem with this? Is Peter Jackson trying to make some political statement, or is this a popular theme now?

Well, now that I think about it, inter-specie love is nothing new: Captain Kirk was banging green chicks and Riker had a thing with a member of an androgynous humanoid species. So I guess we will continue to see more of the same–[insert] a strong female character (probably armed with a bow) has the undying love of a strong male of the same species but the equally attractive and fit male of another species also offers their undying love. Oh, woe is me, which one will I love in return? Maybe both!

And one other thing–I wanted to throw up due to the 3-D overdose from the movie. I think I will stick to 2-D from now on. I saw 47 Ronin last week; thank God I didn’t pay the extra money for 2-D. Maybe there will be a 47 Ronin piece next time for me to rant.

Thanks for listening.

m064404 on December 28, 2013 at 3:41 PM

The wife and I saw this movie and it sucks big time. I think they are trying to tie every single little thing into the Ring Trilogy movies instead of making the Hobbit a stand alone movie like it should be.

The action scenes are idiotic and way overdone on the special effects.

And Legolas? Seriously? Why is he in this movie at all? And why do Orcs chase the Dwarves to Lake Town? Bard is a Volga boatman and the Black Arrow is shot from a Dwarven Crossbow?

And the fight under the mountain with Smaug is insane.

Wait for someone you don’t like to rent the DVD and watch it with them.

Johnnyreb on December 28, 2013 at 4:04 PM

I woke up just in time to meet Legolas and the female Elf who falls in love with one of the dwarves. Wait…what? Does anyone else have a problem with this?

Yeah, I posted an “ewwwwww” in a longer comment earlier, but the site ate it when the page suddenly updated for no reason.

That was a real oddity to me. But I ended up being quite forgiving, given that Evangeline Lilly could basically read her shopping list and I’d still find an excuse to pay money to see her do it. ;-)

nukemhill on December 28, 2013 at 4:06 PM

I am not sure who is worse. Hobbit purists or the anti-socons.
/

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 28, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Meh, it was okay. Too much cgi. Not sure why they even bothered with human actors at all, lol.

xblade on December 28, 2013 at 4:12 PM

His insistence on making Goblins a seperate species from Orcs is a needle in my side,
SteveThomas on December 28, 2013 at 2:41 PM

So……..where does he indicate the Orcs came from??

avagreen on December 28, 2013 at 3:15 PM

The orcs were originally elves, kidnapped by Morgoth (Sauron’s old boss) and through years of torture, slavery, and black magic transformed to hideous caricatures of their former selves. Most of the unanswered questions from the Hobbit and LOTR are answered in The Silmarillion, which explains who the wizards are, the bolrogs, Sauron (they are all a type of being that approximates an angel in Tolkein’s created theology, good and fallen), elves etc.

SteveThomas on December 28, 2013 at 4:38 PM

My 8-year-old son stood in front of his seat through the entire movie and cheered and gasped and laughed and said he can’t wait for part three.

That alone is worth the price of admission.

And I enjoyed it mightily as well.

arik1969 on December 28, 2013 at 4:43 PM

How else do you turn a 300 page book into a 8-9 hour money making juggernaut??

dddave on December 28, 2013 at 4:58 PM

SteveThomas on December 28, 2013 at 4:38 PM

This I know. I thought that he was suggesting something different.

I was thinking something completely different……..when I read your statement, I’d gotten the orcs you mentioned, mixed up with the Uruk-hai.

*color me so confused*

avagreen on December 28, 2013 at 5:27 PM

You guys are insane. The HOBBIT (the book) was light. corny and uneventful. If Jackson had kept his to two movies it would have been a vast improvement over the book. I also think it is wise of him to make it an obvious precursor to the Lord of the Rings. People are justifiably ‘purists’ when it comes to the Lord of the Rings, but the Hobbit? Even Tolkien would probably laugh at that.

AmeriCuda on December 28, 2013 at 5:33 PM

*color me so confused*

avagreen on December 28, 2013 at 5:27 PM

I think I misread your post too. Sorry about that. If by “he”, you are referring to Peter Jackson, I have no idea. He has pretty much fabricated that entire story-line. For that matter, Azog merits only one sentence in The Hobbit, as backstory, and no mention at all in the LOTR or its appendices. Dramatic license I guess. I pretty much go into these movies knowing not to expect them to replicate the books very closely anyway. Even the best intentioned directors can’t seem to resist their impulses to tweak the narrative here and there, for whatever reason. I’d rather see a movie true to the story, but since I know it’s not going to happen, my hope is to enjoy it on its own merits.

SteveThomas on December 28, 2013 at 6:09 PM

Whatculture did a superb fisking of the movie;

http://whatculture.com/film/hobbit-desolation-smaug-5-unforgivable-deviations-novel.php

Which is why I won’t be wasting my money on it.

I’m wondering what Jackson will do with the Battle of Five Armies in the last film to make it a grand finale’.

Maybe “the Battle of Fifteen Armies”?

No. More likely “the Battle of Fifty Armies”.

This would be a good theme for it, never mind Howard Shore.

clear ether

eon

eon on December 28, 2013 at 7:30 PM

Disclaimer: I am a total Tolkien nerd, and I was vastly disappointed by this movie. I don’t speak Elvish or Dwarf or Klingon but I have read all of Tolkien’s books at least twice so bear that in mind as I comment.

I understand the need for a female lead and gratuitous violence/ action scenes, and I can even get behind Jackson expanding the existing story lines to make a more cohesive movie. What I can’t forgive is the total rewriting of the story out of whole cloth. Instead of growing into the resourceful hobbit who gets the dwarves out of every situation they stumble into, Bilbo becomes almost an afterthought. The whole movie is like a bad fan fiction rewrite. Jackson seems intent on smashing every Tolkien theme into one trilogy– Beren and Luthien (Tauriel and Fili), as well as the account of the beginning of the rift between the elves and dwarves (see Necklace of the Dwarves storyline in the Silmarillion if you are at all interested :). Jackson’s take completely misses the lighthearted and whimsical tone of the book and instead creates another bloated blockbuster. There, rant over.

On the upside I can’t wait to see Jackson’s 3-part sequel to LoTR which I hear has guest appearances from Eragon, Walter White and Darth Maul.

cornbred on December 28, 2013 at 10:16 PM

I’ve always blamed Jackson’s concubines (Fran and Phillipa) for the egregious, gratuitous changes — with Peter in full “yes dear” mode. This dates to hearing one of these ladies explaining their destruction of Faramir’s character — the most unforgivable crime against Tolkien by any reteller of any tale in all of history. Epic non sequiturs spilled forth, and I learned that these so-called lovers of Tolkien aren’t.

rasqual on December 29, 2013 at 12:41 AM

I would agree with Jazz’s general assessment. As a movie, I was well entertained. I suppose that, given what had happened or was depicted in the first movie, what I saw in the second movie made a certain amount of sense.

I understand that the story was forged by what the screenwriter and director want to depict but I found Bilbo becoming increasingly the absolutely KEY person to be a bit annoying. I suppose I would say Bilbo was becoming the equivalent of Wesley Crusher in TNG, if not more so. But that is just me.

I will go see the third movie. I fully expect to be entertained as I go with the flow. The third movie will have to conform to the story as established in the previous two movies, so I expect to see major changes from the book, though I will almost certainly still find it worthwhile to go see.

Russ808 on December 29, 2013 at 6:32 AM

I have liked all of Peter Jackson’s Tolkein films so far, despite the liberties he took with the books, until this one. It’s one thing to shorten and adapt the story to make it work as a film. It’s another thing to completely make up a bunch of crap that doesn’t have anything to do with the story.

And what’s the deal with Legolas? Did anybody actually like that character, or the actor, in the LOTR movies? Is there a segment of the viewing audience out there begging for “more Legolas, please!”? Orlando Bloom looked awful in this movie. And it’s hardly believable that his character would be attracted to a lady elf, if you know what I mean. So why write him into half the movie? Why him?

joe_doufu on December 29, 2013 at 6:15 PM