The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug - Cinema Review

'When Jackson himself appears in cameo, pausing stage centre to munch a carrot like Bugs Bunny, within The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug's, opening minute, you start to worry just how indulgent this middle film is going to get.'

It's definitely arguable these days to say that Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings franchise, now into its Hobbit iterations, is becoming a bit indulgent. Certainly the first film, An Unexpected Journey, languished around, spending far too much time on things Jackson feels important that most of us could have lived without. The very fact that there are three Hobbit films at all, for a book thin, light and joyous in tone, is evidence of the indulgence, a piece of information that has become less an opinion held by some, more an accepted fact. When Jackson himself appears in cameo, pausing stage centre to munch a carrot like Bugs Bunny, within The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug's, opening minute, you start to worry just how indulgent this middle film is going to get.

The good news then is that the rest of Desolation - a title, by the way, which a character is unbelievably made to say at one point - feels much more exciting and much less indulgent of Tolkein and Jackson than the previous film. Action highlights such as the barrel scene (one of the book's best) give the plot much more drive and the wonderful world of Laketown is a better realised location than anything in Unexpected Journey: somewhere you can get used to loving and hating, to exploring through the lens of Jackson's camera. Better yet: it's new, as is so much of this film, curing Unexpected Journey's problem of feeling somewhat recycled.

The new stuff here when compared to the first film though proves to be a mixed bag. Luke Evans, not a standout in many previous films, is superb as Bard The Bowman, an absolutely highlight, fleshed out perfectly by the film's writers. Where he could have been an almost teen-friendly empty addition, Bard is instead a convincing world-weary renegade, struggling against 'state' oppression and a heritage Jackson actually does well not to spend eons explaining.

Other additions to the plot and cast though are borderline infuriating, sucking Desolation back into the murky, going-nowhere waters of Unexpected Journey. Evangeline Lilly is great as Elf-warrior Tauriel, but her flirtatious relationship with Kili (Aidan Turner) is superfluous to say the least, Hollywood's all seeing eye casting its gaze to New Zealand and dictating that there must be Romance somewhere, at some point, whether needed or not (it's not). There's a good point that adding Tauriel, to a book famously bereft of female characters, is a must. Putting her there as borderline token romantic interest is not.

The return of Legolas too also feels completely pointless, evidenced by the decision come the finale to apparently dispatch him from the core plot. Wasn't this meant to be a tale about getting to the mountain and stealing some treasure? At least two major characters come the final act find themselves nowhere near the mountain and therefore nowhere near the bits of Desolation you actually care about. Add too Stephen Fry's turn as the Master of Laketown as something which doesn't work: his thespian campiness is severe overkill, even in Jackson's world.

And so, though it is better than the first attempt at massacring The Hobbit, this still feels as though it is a film broken by a decision early in the creative process. The Hobbit is a thrilling, beautiful book; quick, light and lovely. Deciding from the outset not to try and capture that on film is as much of an error as anything else that Jackson gets wrong during The Desolation Of Smaug. Including the title.





By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

No comments:

Post a comment