Smaug Gets in Your Eyes

The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugPeter Jackson’s first movie based on The Hobbit was a financial success, but reviews from people I know tended to be mixed. Beth didn’t even care to see the second one, but I liked the first one well enough, despite some major flaws. One that continued into this film was how it seemed like someone had to be shown fighting orcs approximately every five minutes, as if modern audiences wouldn’t sit through anything that didn’t have constant battle scenes. From a look back at the book, it appears that An Unexpected Journey covered the first six chapters and The Desolation of Smaug the next six. It really didn’t seem like too much happened in this one, but I guess the second part of a trilogy is often used to build up to major conflicts rather than actually showing them. I did like the additional glimpses of the politics of the Mirkwood Elves and of Lake-town, which were only hinted at in the book. Since the original story was a total sausage-fest, the filmmakers saw fit to put in a new female character with a fairly significant role, the Wood-Elf Tauriel. I guess she’s sort of a counterpart to Arwen in Lord of the Rings, but she has her own personality, and you can’t go wrong with bad-ass female archers.

If it weren’t for the fact that J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elves were already established as masters of the longbow, I might suspect she was inspired by Katniss Everdeen. For all I know, maybe she is. There are hints of a budding romance between Tauriel and Kili, but considering what happens to Kili in the book, I’m not sure what’s going to happen with that. Legolas shows up again, but since he’s Thranduil’s son, it doesn’t feel as tacked on as it could have been.

Not surprisingly, it also foreshadows how Legolas would later become BFFs with Gloin’s son Gimli. Another addition was the chase scene with Bilbo and the Dwarves running around the Lonely Mountain with Smaug after them. I get that they wanted to make the main characters somewhat more involved in the dragon’s defeat, because the way it is in the book is basically, “Hey, here’s a supporting character from out of nowhere who resolves one of the major conflicts!” That’s probably also why Bard’s role is expanded considerably. Still, a chase scene? It’s kind of surprising that “Yakety Sax” wasn’t playing, and nobody went into a door on one side of a hallway and emerged from one on the other side. And for all the stuff that was added in, the enchanted stream didn’t appear at all. Not that it really affected the plot, just that you’d kind of think they wouldn’t remove anything when trying to draw a short book out into three long movies. Of course, they still haven’t released the extended edition, so who knows what else that will include? Beorn doesn’t affect anything either, and I know he didn’t show up at all in the animated version of The Hobbit, but I’m sure a guy who could turn into a bear was just too cool to leave out.

I did enjoy the film overall, but I have to say I was pretty exhausted by the end of it.

This entry was posted in Authors, J.R.R. Tolkien, VoVat Goes to the Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Smaug Gets in Your Eyes

  1. Nice review! The extended edition will have the enchanted stream, the white stag, and Bombur falling into a magical sleep. I think there’s more Beorn, as well. I’m looking forward to all of that, as I like the more pastoral elements of Middle-earth, and, especially the magical ones. I think too that the film will benefit from a less exhausting pacing style, allowing the audience moments to breathe a bit more, and enjoy the journey.

  2. Pingback: Food and Cheer Over Hoarded Gold | VoVatia

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