Film Review – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

*** WARNING – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS ***

Waiting a year for a film you know you’re going to love is never easy. Watching that film and being massively disappointed by it is even more so.

I have been a fan of Peter Jackson since the first Lord of the Rings film over ten years ago. Since then I have headed to the cinema, bought the DVDs and enjoyed the extended edition of everything Tolkien he has produced. Yet I left the cinema after seeing the latest Hobbit instalment feeling nothing but dismayed.

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is an overindulgent farce with little of the original book in it. Though the actors are on top form, particularly Aiden Turner as a lovesick Kili, so many liberties are taken it is more like A Compendium of Tolkien than The Hobbit. Perhaps twenty minutes of the film are scenes from the original book while the rest of the two hours is taken up by the Necromancer, Radagast the Brown and Legolas. Who, incidentally, isn’t even mentioned in the book. Not that I’m bitter about that or anything.

Even the scenes that do come from the book are twisted and adapted to fit the extra material. Extra characters – such as Legolas – are brought in to lure The Lord of the Rings followers as apparently Gandalf isn’t enough. They are thrown awkwardly into the narrative, along with an unnecessary star-crossed lover story and totally superfluous dwarf hunt. To me, the original story is pretty thrilling and has enough excitement for a good movie. However, Jackson’s choice to make another epic trilogy has meant he has had to find material from somewhere else.

Sadly, even the special effects and general shooting fail to stand up to previous instalments. In particular the elven fight scenes and blocky CGI ruined what should have been thrilling, heart-in-your-mouth sequences. If particular during the dwarfs daring escape from the elven kingdom in barrels we are ‘treated’ to the odd shot from Bilbo’s perspective, dashing through the rapids from under the waves. I see what Jackson was aiming for, putting us right in the thick of it, but it just felt jarring and ruined the flow for me.

Overall, I was greatly disappointed considering all of the hype around it. I will be going to watch the final instalment next year, not because I’m excited but because I have to see this through to the end. If you like the movies you probably will enjoy it but if, like me, you are an avid fan of the book you will come out disappointed.

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