The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”
This is more action-packed than its immediate predecessor, a benefit of covering the most exciting part of the source material. There's no feeling of padding the running time like in the last film; even if every scene isn't necessary in the final analysis, each one feels essential as it's happening. But the movie's lack of a beginning or ending really hurts, It just keeps going and going and going (and going and going) until it arbitrarily stops at some point, no better or worse a stopping point than any other scene, and the events just feel like they're happening in sequence instead of leading up to something important or meaningful.
On the bright side, the movie continues to look amazing, with several signature Jacksonian shots that only this director or a close imitator could produce, and the new character of Tauriel is a welcome presence that Philippa Boyens was wise to add for balance. As in every production he appears in, Benedict Cumberbatch continues to be worth every penny they're paying him; the character of Smaug is an incredible creation. I laughed at the jokes (the more sophisticated ones anyway) and thrilled at the narrow escapes and smiled at the love story, so I consider the movie a success, if a minor one compared to The Lord of the Rings.
Samir Mehta: Simple question from someone who lovedthis book as a child (I think I read it 3 times in a year as a kid):
Do I have to actually watch the first movie? I can't believe that this book deserves 6-8 hours to watch. I really like Jackson but I'd much rather get a new King Kong movie than deal with three Hobbits. − December 22, 2013 more by Samir
Scott Hardie: You don't need to watch the first movie in order to understand the second, no. There are a few running subplots borrowed from elsewhere or totally invented, such as Gandalf investigating rumors of a necromancer, but none should be hard to follow.
That said, both Hobbit films so far have been a lot of fun. They're both worth seeing. They're not great films like The Lord of the Rings, but they're as entertaining as, say, most of the recent crop of superhero movies. − December 23, 2013 more by Scott
Evie Totty: “It ruled.”
Firstly - what is with casting actors that look alike? You put Thorin, Bard and Legolas together and you'll see what I mean :)
Anyway the barrel scene makes it more than worth it and reminds me why I love Legolas so much. He's such a bad-ass. And then there's another hour or so after that!
Scott Hardie: Yes! I sat there trying to recognize the actor playing Bard, and wondered if it was possible that Orlando Bloom was playing two parts. − December 24, 2013 more by Scott
Erik Bates: “It ruled.”
It's definitely a "middle" movie that wasn't based on the middle book of a 3-part series. It doesn't feel like there's a beginning or an end, but more like I just tuned in in the middle, and then fell asleep before the end of the episode. But I'm very OK with that. But what we got was beautiful, and fun. I feel like I need to read some of the other materials surrounding the Hobbit to understand some of the side stories going on more (unless there's more made-up stuff here than I realized).
I will say this: the love story is 100% uneccessary and just a little bit far-fetched. Just because a movie doesn't have an inherent love story, that doesn't mean that you need to add one in. Hell, you've managed to stretch a single book that is a fraction of the length of just one of the books that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was based on into three entire movies of its own. Jackson probably could have just gone ahead and said, "Yeah, I think we have enough content here" and just left that out.
Scott Hardie: Normally I'd agree that the invented love story was unnecessary filler, and I'd go even further and say that it's a shame that they created a female character to diversify the sausage fest that is Tolkien's book only to make her storyline entirely about which man she's going to wind up with. But to be honest, I kind of liked the romantic subplot, minor though it was. There's so much ugly racism in the real world that I have little patience for elves and dwarves and other fictional races acting bigoted toward each other, so I kind of enjoyed this refreshing cross-race (cross-species?) love story. Maybe the actors really sold it for me, or maybe I just was just drawn to some of the lighter material in an otherwise heavy story, I don't know. − December 24, 2013 more by Scott