Film Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
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2/5 Goodness, is it really a whole year since we last joined Bilbo on his adventure to slay a dragon and reclaim a stolen kingdom? Yes, 12 months have passed for us, but for Bilbo it doesn’t look as if he’s much closer to getting back to his home comforts in Hobbiton. Indeed, Peter Jackson’s overblown and patience-testing eight-hour-plus trilogy (spun out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s charming and simple 276-page children’s book) goes on a massive detour for much of this film, no doubt in an effort to stretch the story out as much as possible. It all becomes incredibly messy and at times downright boring. At the end of Part 1 we left Bilbo, Gandalf and our band of weird dwarves as they trudge their way to the Lonely Mountain (their lost kingdom). Things that happened at the beginning of the book were deliberately made to seem climactic so the rhythm and structure of Tolkien’s story has already been bashed out of shape and this second instalment only complicates matters. It barely has a structure and feels even more like a video-game than the first film, where characters get themselves into a difficult situation and have to escape (from elves, from trolls, from Orcs ect, from Stephen Fry ect). Because Jackson and co have inserted Orcs, beasts and dark lords where they don’t belong, there is a lot of threat and horror to this reimagining than is really necessary. It’s plain they desperately want this to not just match but perhaps even rival The Lord of the Rings in terms of scope and scale, and by striving towards this aim the filmmakers misunderstand the beauty and power of Tolkien’s delicate story of a quiet soul thrust into a wondrous and sometimes perilous world.
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