The Desolation of Smaug was quite an entertaining, action-packed, epic adventure. It is a story that should have been adapted into a masterpiece, something as good (if not better) than the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The thing is, Peter Jackson added so much schmaltzy crap that it pretty much ruined any chance of it becoming a masterpiece. This film left out some of the greatest moments in the book, and replaced them with ridiculous sub-plots like a love-triangle and an old vendetta between orc and dwarf. Everything felt cheaper and less exciting in this chapter, save for two exquisite sequences. This movie just didn't have the heart and soul of the other films.
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) continues on his quest with 13 dwarves to slay the mighty dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). In this chapter, he faces many perilous situations and must use his cunning, and his mysterious magical ring, to make it through alive. In all reality, this movie has hardly anything to do with Bilbo. It's mostly about Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), who leads the expedition in order to reclaim his thrown as 'King Under the Mountain.'
The greatest thing about this movie BY FAR is the sequences involving Smaug. That dragon was perfection! ABSOLUTE PERFECTION. Cumberbatch was phenomenal as the voice of Smaug, for he sounded spine-chillingly evil, and quite regal too. The special effects and design of Smaug were unforgettable. He is undoubtedly the greatest dragon in cinematic history, which is exactly what the character deserved! Those scenes where Smaug spoke to Bilbo were just haunting. It was as if I was watching an entirely different movie, for it was far too good for the schmaltz that came before it. I'd rank Smaug's sequence as one of the greatest in the history of cinema.
I can see why Jackson would add a bit of romance to The Hobbit, but it screamed "unnecessary" to me. It was filler material, pure and simple. He turned a relatively small novel into three epic movies, so of course you have to expect sub-plots conjured out of Jackson's ass. The love-triangle between Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), and Kili (Aidan Turner), just didn't need to be in the movie. There isn't enough time to get to know the character's, so it is hard to give a damn about their relationships. In fact, it makes me downright mad to see Jackson spoil a perfect story with a romance taken straight out of a young-adult fiction novel.
Don't even get me started on that pathetic vengeance plot between Thorin and the White Orc. That shit is just boring filler material that gets real old, real fast. It was super cheesy in the first film, and super unnecessary in The Desolation of Smaug. So instead of talking about it, I'll talk about my thoughts on the Richard Armitage as Thorin. I think he was completely miscast for the role. I always imagined him to be older, wiser, and stronger than what he is in the film. Armitage, and Jackson's direction, make Thorin look like a little cry-baby who throws tantrums because his bottle/kingdom was taken away. I hate what they did to that wonderful character.
The visual effects were either fantastically amazing, or extremely underwhelming. The first few sequences of the film screamed 'fake' to me. Special effects in high-paced scenes just do not compare to live-action. Distant shots of the travelling dwarves, or orcs, or anything moving, just looked like computer animation to me. When it came to Smaug and the spiders of Murkwood Forest, the SFX were phenomenal, 10/10! I was always aware that a huge portion of the film was shot in a studio, because in all honestly, the set production just wasn't as submersing as it used to be. I think Peter Jackson lost his way, and the art direction of The Desolation of Smaug was less impressive than its predecessors.
I'm not gonna lie... I absolutely deplore the addition of Sauron to The Hobbit. In An Unexpected Journey, they bring back old characters to ramble about the dangers of the growing enemy. In The Desolation of Smaug, Gandalf literally disappears for the whole film to look for the evil-doers behind the dark commotion. It sure was interesting to see Sauron before his rise in The LOTR, however, it was just filler material that did nothing but spoil the joyous, thrilling adventure of Bilbo Baggins.
After thinking about it all, I'm really pissed off. This is supposed to be about Bilbo's adventure! Not the lurking spirit of Sauron! Not the petty vendetta of Thorin and the orc! Not the sickening love triangle between two elves and a dwarf! Poor Bilbo is lost in this mess of clashing sub-plots, which is just the throw-up of Peter Jackson and his writing team.
PETER JACKSON. YOU ARE NOT J.R.R. TOLKIEN. YOU DO NOT POSSESS HIS ABILITY TO WRITE NEW MATERIAL FOR THIS EXQUISITE STORY. BY CHOPPING UP THIS MASTERPIECE, YOU HAVE MADE THE STORY FAR TOO LONG AND FAR TOO TEDIOUS.
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, here's my final thought. It's beautiful to look at, thrilling to behold at times, and riveting when it comes to Smaug and the spiders. However, it is quite sloppy and weak compared to its predecessors. I wouldn't put it in the same league as the other films. While this movie did Smaug justice, it just couldn't do justice to Bilbo's adventure.
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