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Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug spoiler thread


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#1 Calibandar

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 05:05 PM

I was very disappointed with this one. I rank it below AUJ, most certainly.
It's also by quite a distance the worst of the Middle Earth films so far.

I still think the 3rd one could be great, but in my opinion they saved too much of the good stuff for film 3 ( this is obvious really) and have filled the second film with wall-to-wall silliness from start to finish. The nonsense level is notched up dramatically in this film. Very little that you see makes sense. Even within a fantasy world there has to be some sense of logic and internal consistency in order to suspend disbelief, and Jackson breaks that again and again in this film. I can only marvel at the fact that this film has not been crushed in advance reviews for how video game like it is. Not that the CGI is bad, but there is just so much of it, and so in your face, all the time. Hundreds of orcs get killed in this one, but Tauriel and Legolas just cruise through everything in video game fashion. Even the dwarves, who at no point have shown any special martial abilities, will constantly prevail against any sort of Orc/goblin. Even mighty Smaug can't even catch a single dwarf whilst he is roaring his enormous fire through Erebor. And that is only one of many things that makes no sense.


What else is bad?

1) Beorn. Aside from the fact that he doesn't look as impressive as I had expected either in man or bear form( come on, Tolkien's description was explicit and full of colour, and with this Beorn they have just gone for an odd, curious looking individual rather than the powerful and imposing sort), he is hardly in this film. A few minutes at best, and that is hugely surprising given that they felt they needed to make 3 long films. It's a significant episode in the book, and he's a much loved character to boot, all the more reason to spend more time with him rather than less. As I said, this whole sequence just flies by in 4 or 5 minutes and we're off into Mirkwood. I'm sure the Extended Edition will add scenes here, but it's the theatrical that should have done better here already. There is no notable backstory about him having been tortured in Dol Guldur which all the "making of" books refer to. Despite all the rumours about him being present with Gandalf and Radagast at Dol Guldur ( as indicated in the just released lego sets for instance) we never see him there. Jackson said they shot many more scenes with Persbrandt because they liked his performance so much, Persbrandt even travelled to New Zealand 7 times for shoots and re-shoots. You would never know by the end products that is this film. Maybe we will see it in film 3, like most everything else that matters.

2) The band of Dwarves. With Thorin becoming more and more irritating and unsympathetic, there is only Balin left as a somewhat interesting individual. The rest just doesn't stand out and is boring to boot. This is one of the prime reasons why these films ( and this one especially ) do not nearly gather the empathy like the LoTR films did. It's really hard to care for all their antics and they're not well drawn characters. You'd think all the extra time would at least make them stand out more than in the book.

3) Radagast/The Woodland Realm/Barrell escape.

Radagast has 4 lines in this film at most. Jackson has abused this character into his Jar-Jar. Like Jar-Jar, there is suddenly a much reduced role for Radagast in the film two, after criticism of the characters's portrayal in film one. Radagast is now completely marginalized and I was disappointed with Jacko's take on him.

The Wood Elves, well, Woodland Realm looks great as we knew from the trailers and pics it would. Sadly Tauriel is a major irritant. Legolas is ok, much like in the LoTR. His character is a bit different but it's hard to be engaged by him. Thranduil is great as expected. The invented part of him having a massive scar is nonsense again, but other than that he was an interesting figure who should have had more time in this film ( if they were going to spend so much time in Lake-Town, and spend so much time on Kili and Tauriel, they could have given Thranduil, Beorn or Radagast more to do as well, or instead).

The much praised barrel riding scene as they exit Mirkwood with Orcs and Elves is somewhat overhyped to my mind. The CGI is rampant and blatant, the trickery and acrobatics break all sense of logic or the ability to keep believing in the reality of this film. If you're nitpicking, you can start to talk about why Bilbo is suddenly able to ride a river just by holding on to a barrel ( impossible if you see how wild it is with rapids and falls) , or why Bombur breaks his barrel completely, only to be in another barrel a few minutes later. I'm not even talking about that.

4) No quiet moments. Nothing really. This film even lacks the first film's nice moments in Hobbiton and Rivendell which made them atmospheric. There are no quiet moments in this one. There's a very long, surprisingly boring segment in Lake-Town in which truly nothing of consequence or increased interest happens. Other than that, as I said, no time spent at Beorn's, pretty much no time spent in the Woodland Palace except for a long snore talk between Kili and Tauriel regarding starlight . I'll certainly grant that the introduction in AUJ may have gone on a bit long, but at least that was coupled to a sense of atmosphere and that the world they're in feels real. Here, there's never a chance to take a breath and look around.

5) Tauriel and Kili. Tauriel was quite irritating as a character but it was the badly written romance with Kili that takes up a remarkable amount of screentime here, and I had not expected that. Overall these two characters left a bad taste in my mouth and contributed to the feeling that this second film is so much fluff.

6) No idea why this had to be 3 films. It just never comes through. There is an invented set piece at the end between Dwarves and Smaug which is silly beyond belief, and the execution seems to point to pea sized brains for either the dwarves or the 3 screenwriters who wrote it. Takes up more than half an hour of film, never happened in the book, but regardless of that, it turns out to be completely ineffectual, as you would expect. Why would a band of 6 dwarves be able to evict Smaug when Gandalf suggests it would take the armies of all 7 Dwarf Families. Speaking of which..

7) The prologue. Least impressive prologue yet? Certainly.
Furthermore, White Council vs Dol Guldur. No White Council in this film. Gandalf sends Radagast away as his only companion. Gandalf gets captured. All the good stuff saved for film 3 we now hear, with Saruman, Galadriel and Elrond all absent here and to have their scenes in film 3. The Nine Nazgul are referred to and set up as an enemy, but they never appear in this film either.

So after all that disillusionment, anything I still liked?

1) Gandalf vs Sauron at Dol Guldur. Regardless of what has been postponed, this was nicely done and a great scene. It allows for the unnecessary cliffhanger of having Gandalf in captivity but does so in a way that does not diminish him.

2) I liked Beorn-as-Bear standing guard outside of his house while the rest slept. The orcs were too terrified to come near and this foreshadows Beorn's decisive role in The Battle of Five Armies.

3) The dialogue between Smaug and Bilbo is beautiful and these are strong scenes. It's only when the invented part of the confrontation between Thorin and his band aganst Smaug starts to drag on, that Smaug becomes less interesting and less terrifying. But the initial part of that scene, starring Bilbo and Smaug, is quite wonderful.

4) Agreed with the rest of the world that Smaug has been nicely designed. He looks great. I wonder if they'll do a bit more with him in film 3 than just having him killed, but probably not. The film very much seems to lead to Bard being released from jail whilst Smaug attacks, and then Smaug will perish. Still, I hope we see him wreak major havoc.

In the end, lots of wild stuff that looks and feels tremendously cheap, very little content or beautiful quieter moments that stirs the mind, and a great deal of antics, much of it invented, that fails to engage. It comes to its 2: 40 hours running time largely by inventing new sequences that don't work at all, and postpones most of the interesting and climactic stuff to film 3. Worst Middle Earth film so far, and that's a big shame, I'd been looking forward to this one.


Edited by Calibandar, 12 December 2013 - 05:11 PM.


#2 C0bR

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 05:44 PM

I just came back from the screening, so let first me scream my mind...

 

Kili and Tauriel... Kili and Tauriel... KILI AND TAURIEL!!!! ARGH

 

I seriously cringed everytime those two appeared on the screen. I understand that they needed a women in the movie (who also happens to be an invincible Mary Sue), but did they really need to make her an object of a terribly written interracial love triangle? The only question remaining is if these two manage to declare their love for each other between the end or not... With Kili's wound I can already see a heartbreaking final scene.

 

I agree with you about Beorn (seriously, not even a skirmish with him?) and the dwarfes. It was never going to work on the screen with the amount of them. Thorin is getting set for some major redemption, because they have turned him into an obssessed idiot.

 

I guess it's too late to complain about the CGI stuff, these films will never be as beautiful as LOTR, where they still used masks and real locations and it whole looked much more real.

 

Smaug was perfect, but laughably incompetent. Hopefully they will have him in the third one for more than five minutes (I would not be surprised if he joined the orc army and was killed in the final battle).

 

I still liked the movie as a movie though, but professor's corpse is not far away from starting to turn over in his grave with the amount of the stuff invented by Jackson.

 

I won't complain about the 3 movies nonsense, as it achieves nothing and I have complained enough times about that already.

 

Also the stupid mayor and his own Wormtongue were lame.

 

edit: I forgot to say, that the music disappointed me once again. Really poor and without a really strong track.


Edited by C0bR, 12 December 2013 - 06:09 PM.


#3 The Anti-Targ

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 01:42 AM

Seems like minority reports from the OP and 2nd P, given it seems the overwhelming majority of reviews and other comments around are saying DoS is a lot better than aUJ.

 

I haven't seen it yet but everyone I know who's seen it think it's a better movie than the first. But I do cringe at the idea of Tauriel and Kili, I think I'm better to be forewarned on that than to go in and be hit with it unexpectedly.



#4 Nictarion

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 03:42 AM

Seems like minority reports from the OP and 2n d P, given it seems the overwhelming majority of reviews and other comments around are saying DoS is a lot better than aUJ.
 
I haven't seen it yet but everyone I know who's seen it think it's a better movie than the first. But I do cringe at the idea of Tauriel and Kili, I think I'm better to be forewarned on that than to go in and be hit with it unexpectedly.

I absolutely think it was better than the first. At least purely on entertainment basis. I wasn't bored once in the entire movie. The barrel scene was fucking awesome! And Smaug looked great. His movements and his fire actually looked better than I expected. The Kili and Tauriel stuff was silly, but it didn't really bother me that much. Mirkwood looked great to. I still have to soak it all in, and think about everything a bit. But walking out of the theatre, I think its better than the first one.

Edited by Nictarion, 13 December 2013 - 07:00 AM.


#5 ColdDrake

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 03:55 AM

Saw it tonight, my first impressions are that it was quite fun. A lot more fast paced than the first, tons of action. The acting and art design/production are all great. Some of the scenes have too much CGI as usual, a few too many CGI orcs for my taste. Tolkien purists are going to absolutely hate the film, but if you can get past the changes they made it's a joy. Another criticism is the cuts between the different parties in the third act were slightly clunky. Thranduil's Hall is about the size of a stadium, it lacked the charm of the one I imagined from the book. That pretty much sums up PJ's Hobbit films, not as simple and charming as the book, but if you can just roll with his indulgences you'll have a good time. Beorn didn't look as ridiculous as the pictures made it seem, I look forward to seeing more of him in the next film. I loved the Dickensian flavor of Laketown and was impressed by Luke Evans' performance as Bard. Smaug was very well done, my only nitpick is his red color was pretty dull and almost brown for the most part. Can't wait for TABA. 


Edited by ColdDrake, 13 December 2013 - 03:59 AM.


#6 Nictarion

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 04:15 AM

Saw it tonight, my first impressions are that it was quite fun. A lot more fast paced than the first, tons of action. The acting and art design/production are all great. Some of the scenes have too much CGI as usual, a few too many CGI orcs for my taste. Tolkien purists are going to absolutely hate the film, but if you can get past the changes they made it's a joy. Another criticism is the cuts between the different parties in the third act were slightly clunky. Thranduil's Hall is about the size of a stadium, it lacked the charm of the one I imagined from the book. That pretty much sums up PJ's Hobbit films, not as simple and charming as the book, but if you can just roll with his indulgences you'll have a good time. Beorn didn't look as ridiculous as the pictures made it seem, I look forward to seeing more of him in the next film. I loved the Dickensian flavor of Laketown and was impressed by Luke Evans' performance as Bard. Smaug was very well done, my only nitpick is his red color was pretty dull and almost brown for the most part. Can't wait for TABA. 

Completely agree with all this. Especially Smaug not being red enough. I thought the same thing. Other than that he looked incredible. I do think the book purists may hate this one even more than the first to. Jackson made a lot of changes from the book, but that's really nothing new. Honestly I just found this one more entertaining.

Edited by Nictarion, 13 December 2013 - 04:16 AM.


#7 Ser Scot A Ellison

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 06:56 AM

I just want to see a dwelf or an ewarf produced from a Kili/Tauriel pairing.

#8 Nictarion

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 06:59 AM

I just want to see a dwelf or an ewarf produced from a Kili/Tauriel pairing.

Lol. That would be a sight to see.

#9 andrew_

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 08:41 AM

I haven't seen it yet but I was curious to know where they finish it in regards to the book? Is Smaug dead at the end?

 

Also the OP seems to be in the miniscule minority considering the amount of positive feedback I have seen on the internet and in major reviews.



#10 Nictarion

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 08:51 AM

I haven't seen it yet but I was curious to know where they finish it in regards to the book? Is Smaug dead at the end?
 
Also the OP seems to be in the miniscule minority considering the amount of positive feedback I have seen on the internet and in major reviews.

It ends with Smaug flying off to attack Laketown.

Edited by Nictarion, 13 December 2013 - 08:52 AM.


#11 andrew_

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 09:12 AM

It ends with Smaug flying off to attack Laketown.

Well then the next one is going to be ridiculously epic, the fall of Dol Gudur, the death of Smaug and the battle of five armies.



#12 Nictarion

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 09:15 AM

Well then the next one is going to be ridiculously epic, the fall of Dol Gudur, the death of Smaug and the battle of five armies.

Indeed. This one was almost non-stop action, so they have to top it for the finale.

#13 Clueless Northman

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 09:18 AM

Indeed. With no Assault of Dol Guldur and no attack on Laketown and no death of Smaug, looks like there isn't much of significance happening in the whole movie. Definitely not enough to justify a 2h40 movie.

 

What I've noticed is that most people tend to prefer this one because there's more action.

Yeah right, as if that's how you make a good movie. Specially considering how lame the action was in the first movie, that's really what we need for the 2nd one, more of the same lame-assed pointless fluff and filler.

 

What's worse is when actual critics make this point.

 

Edited by Clueless Northman, 13 December 2013 - 09:19 AM.


#14 Nictarion

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 09:31 AM



Indeed. With no Assault of Dol Guldur and no attack on Laketown and no death of Smaug, looks like there isn't much of significance happening in the whole movie. Definitely not enough to justify a 2h40 movie.
 
What I've noticed is that most people tend to prefer this one because there's more action.
Yeah right, as if that's how you make a good movie. Specially considering how lame the action was in the first movie, that's really what we need for the 2nd one, more of the same lame-assed pointless fluff and filler.
 
What's worse is when actual critics make this point.
 

I was never really expecting anything to deep out of these movies. They're based of a children's book. They have fun characters, good action, and are entertaining.

#15 Ygrain

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 09:40 AM

Hmpf. Seems like my decision not to have anything to do with the film Hobbit was the right one. I was disappointed with LotR enough already, and what I read in the OP is just what I had expected. Sigh. I see too much, I know.

 

 

I was never really expecting anything to deep out of these movies. They're based of a children's book. They have fun characters, good action, and are entertaining.

A story doesn't have to be deep to be well done. I do not require existential drama in my entertainment, but I do insist that things should make sense within their verse.



#16 Myrddin

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 09:57 AM

I just want to see a dwelf or an ewarf produced from a Kili/Tauriel pairing.

If the babe is a girl, will she be an elf with a beard?



#17 Nictarion

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 10:00 AM

If the babe is a girl, will she be an elf with a beard?

Or a really attractive little dwarf.

#18 fuem

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 10:03 AM

Thank you for the detailed review. The Hobbit has a HUGE let down and i had higher hopes for this =( 



#19 ColdDrake

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 12:26 PM

Some observations:

-Legolas goes hand to hand with Bolg who attempts a bear-hug, amusing if you know that Bolg is in for the ultimate bearhug soon

-Thranduil decapitates an orc and the body proceeds to twitch and tremble on the floor, nice touch PJ

-I liked seeing Bree again, I guess that's the same drunk Jackson played in Fellowship

-Gold dipped Smaug was cool to look at

-The High Fells were nice and creepy but a brief scene

-The barrel scene was a lot more fun than I expected, did anyone notice a few first person shots where the video quality looked drastically different?



#20 Werthead

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Posted 13 December 2013 - 12:56 PM

Vastly superior to An Unexpected Journey. Much better-paced, better use of the new material (the Master/Bard political rivalry gives more weight to the Laketown storyline) and Laketown and the underground elven halls gives the team an opportunity to change up their designs: Dol Guldur is too Mordor and Erebor too Moria at times. Beorn is also a lot better on screen than the pictures indicated, especially as he only appears for five minutes or so. They also didn't get bogged down in Mirkwood, which was the only bit where the book feels like it slows down too much. The pacing was actually reasonable this time around and Jackson uses the extra time wisely to establish better motivations for characters such as Thranduil, Bard and Smaug himself.

 

The film's biggest weaknesses are:

 

1) Too much silly Legolas badassery. There's nothing quite as dumb as the skateboarding Two Towers scene, but the scene where he's jumping from dwarf-head to dwarf-head whilst killing a dozen orcs is very cheesy. His later one-to-one fight with GregorOrc is reasonably good, but suffers from a lack of resolution. Also, Legolas seems to lose a bit of weight in the following sixty years ;)

 

2) The romance. Fortunately it's less prevalent than I'd been led to believe and does echo/prefigure the Arwen-healing-Frodo scene, which is interesting. Evangeline Lilly actually makes for a much better elf than Liv Tyler and her character, although new, works better. But yeah, the Kili/Tauriel starlight stuff is corny. Not Anakin-and-Amidala-in-AotC bad though.

 

3) The ending. The film reminded me of ADWD: build-up, build-up, build-up (some of it really great, some of it could have been trimmed) and then it ends on a massive multi-pronged cliffhanger with no resolution whatsoever. This really was inexcusable, as they could have fitted in Smaug's death easily.

 

The use of Radagast is kept to a minimum, there's nothing as random as the hedgehog resurrection scene, no rabbit chase and thankfully no goblin king-style shenanigans. A few of the battles and effects sequences went on too long (especially in Erebor), but there wasn't any Man of Steel/Matrix-length interminability.

 

ETA: Bombur as the rotating dwarf rotund barrel of death was a comic interlude that was actually quite amusing.

 

-I liked seeing Bree again, I guess that's the same drunk Jackson played in Fellowship

 

Sixty years earlier? :shocked: Probably his grandad :)


Edited by Werthead, 13 December 2013 - 01:03 PM.