The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013) Review

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The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013)

Directed by Peter Jackson

Based on The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (duh. just read the book instead of watching this.)

Ian McKellen
Martin Freeman
Richard Armitage
Benedict Cumberbatch
Evangeline Lilly
Lee Pace
Luke Evans
Ken Stott
James Nesbitt
Orlando Bloom

Running time: 11161 minutes. Oops – 161 minutes. Typo.

Plot Synopsis:
The second unnecessarily long movie of three unnecessarily long movies. Based on an awesome short book, The Desolation Of Smaug is not awesome and not short.

But this is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

The Desolation of Smaug is set in Middle-earth sixty years before the events of The Lord of the Rings, and portions of the film are adapted from the appendices to Tolkien’s The Return of the King. The wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) investigates a growing evil at Dol Guldur, while Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) continues his quest with thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).

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My Opinion:

What on (middle) Earth did I just watch? I’ve never looked at my watch so many times during a film. This was one of the most unpleasant movie-going experiences I’ve had in a long time. What I’m trying to say is this: I really didn’t enjoy The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (that’s the last time I’m typing that entire title).

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A brief history on my Hobbit/Lord Of The Rings knowledge: I loved the books. A lot. Then I loved The Lord Of The Rings movies. A lot. Then The Hobbit movies started and the first one was… Meh. A bit better than some of the critics were saying but it was certainly no Lord Of The Rings film (those were fantastic). Although I loved the books, I only read them all once & don’t obsess over them or have the greatest memory of every detail. I don’t get too bothered about adaptations being 100% faithful as long as they’re at least… Respectful? I don’t remember The Hobbit book well enough to go into discussing how faithful these two films have been so far. I don’t care anyway. I disliked this film not because of the story or the acting (that was all “good enough”). I HATED how it looked and how that look made it feel!

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I’m not going to spend too long on this review. I was just very disappointed. The things I care about when it comes to a movie are a good story & great characters. It’s great when a film looks good too but I’m not someone who cares too much about things like 3D and I hate dodgy looking CGI. I choose to watch films in 2D (the only film to get 3D right so far is Gravity). Unfortunately, I watched this one in 3D (it was the only time I could go to it). Awful! The blurriness I can’t stand with 3D when it comes to things in the background was worse than ever & all the layers in scenes like when Bilbo is in the leaves at the top of the trees were just distracting & weird. Although I don’t think it was just the 3D – I think it’s the way it was filmed overall and my 2D experience probably wouldn’t have been much better (my hubby spent ages trying to explain things like high frame rate to me when we spent almost this entire movie just discussing how awful it looked). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I know NOTHING about filmmaking. I just love watching movies. All I know is that this film didn’t look right to the point that I was SO distracted for at least the first half of the movie that I couldn’t concentrate on the things I care about (story and characters) and actually couldn’t wait for the film to finish.

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Now before everyone tells me that this film looks amazing I should explain what I mean by the film looking “awful” and I know that not everyone will agree. It’s also very hard to put into words. It looks too REAL. The daylight scenes were the worst – it felt like I was actually watching a play (with a very high budget) and that the actors were standing on a stage in front of me. It had the look & feel of a National Geographic documentary or a BBC drama (which are things that are fine if that’s the sort of thing you want to watch). The Hobbit is an epic fantasy – I don’t want it to feel REAL. I want to lose myself in this magical world – I go to movies as an escape from the real world, especially when it comes to an actual fantasy film. It took the fantasy element away by being filmed in this way. It wasn’t as bad during darker scenes – I found myself cringing every time there was another scene in bright daylight. Luckily, the last half of the film is dark and I finally started to get into the story a bit more when they go to Lake-town. But this is over halfway into the film – I was too annoyed by this point to really care.

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I’ve spent no time discussing what should really matter in a movie – the story & the characters. The film picks up once they reach Lake-town and was a lot more enjoyable than the first half, I think Freeman is very good, I adore Ian McKellen but he’s very underused in this one, I liked Bard, I thought Smaug looked really good and liked the scene where he starts moving underneath all that gold. Hell, I even didn’t mind that romance they threw in there which most people probably hate. But, unfortunately, none of this really mattered as the look of the film was so distracting that it ruined the entire experience for me. So for the first time EVER, my rating is largely influenced by this instead of just being based on the story & characters. I’m very very disappointed and am considering skipping the last one in order to not end up having it lessen my love for The Lord Of The Rings films.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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** And to think I was waiting until I’d seen this to do my 2013 Top Ten Movies list. I’ll probably post that tomorrow. Spoiler: This movie doesn’t even come close to making it. πŸ˜‰

34 thoughts on “The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013) Review

  1. Just kidding, of course. I hate 3D and it’s not just because I am the bandwagon of 3D haters. I ten to cock my head when I watch movies / TV (yes, kind of like Gump) so the 3D aspect gets lost because there’s no symmetry. We went to see The Avengers in IMAX 3D and it almost made me sick.

    That’s one of the things why GRAVITY worked so well for me in 3D – there’s wasn’t any “ground” or horizontal lines to make me dizzy.

    I bet I would hate this, 2D or not.

    • I’m assuming I’m the one in the minority! I think it’d probably be fine for some films, just not a fantasy like this. I felt like I was watching Ian McKellen & Martin Freeman, not Gandalf & Bilbo. :-/

  2. I didn’t see this one in 3D, intentionally so. I thought the 3D of the first Hobbit bad and expected this would be, too. I’m glad I trusted that instinct.

    I will say I thought many of the effects terrific, but that the story and characters are not nearly interesting enough to carry this movie. Which, I suspect, is why the look of the movie bothered you so much. If the story and characters had been better, you probably would have lost yourself in them. Since they weren’t, you focused on other things, things you hated just as much.

    Anyway, my point is: I don’t like this one either. Good review.

    • Thanks. πŸ™‚ I MUST have seen the first one in 2D as I don’t remember being this annoyed! You’re probably right about this one being a bit weak, which is why I couldn’t just ignore my issues with the look. It was probably the same with the first Hobbit – it was okay but I could never quite put my finger on why the LOTR films were SO much better. I think the story & characters & acting and everything were just a lot better in those…

  3. Oh wow. Yeah you didn’t care for this one, did you? Haha. I liked it well enough, but it I completely see your points. Too long indeed. Just don’t let it ruin your love of the book!

  4. Just seen this last night and I actually liked it. It was certainly flawed and overlong but great entertainment nonetheless. Should have my thoughts up in a day or so.

  5. I agree the movie has major issues. One problem I have was Smaug’s self description monologue… if Jackson was going to include it why did he cut the last line?

  6. How sad that you didn’t like it. I know exactly what you mean by saying it looks too real but I seem to have gotten used to it. I remember when I saw HD for the first time from a very good and big telly and it felt a bit insulting to watch that because it looked too real but I got used to it and guess I’ve gotten used to the HFR too. πŸ™‚

    • Yeah – it was just too distracting that I couldn’t concentrate on the film at all. It definitely ruined the experience. :-/ I did see Avatar & agree that THAT was a great example of 3D. I just didn’t like the movie very much. I’d always rather see a movie I like instead of one that just looks impressive. Gravity was beautiful, though! πŸ™‚ Got the right balance.

    • Lol! That’s okay – I think I’m probably in the minority on hating 3D for the most part? The film was probably okay – I was just too distracted to concentrate. Really wish I’d seen it in 2D!

  7. I actually thought this was pretty good and an improvement over the first one. Totally with you on the 3D thing though. I saw this in 2D because I just really don’t like the whole 3D thing and the CGi in this definitely had its dodgy moments anyway without the 3D making it worse.

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    • I don’t recommend it. Obviously. Lol ; ) Would be interesting to know your thoughts, though, as you know about filmmaking & I was just all like “I don’t know why this looks shit but it does & I hate it”. : )

      • I am curious about HFR – but not curious enough to blow 20 bucks on The Hobbit! Perhaps they will have perfected the process by the time Cameron begins shooting Avatar 2 and 3. πŸ™‚

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