When it comes time to bring J.R.R. children's books Tolkien's The Hobbit to the big screen, Peter Jackson did not go to a direct adaptation. Draw from the attachment to The Lord of the Rings, he and the author recreated the story in its own image of the Rings trilogy was highly successful, but last year The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey doesn't quite do feat. Heavy on the grandeur but the light on the audience the drama and characters that are easy to remember falling in love with 10 years ago, it raised a new question: can Jackson and creative team building adventures are stronger now that they have the initial set-up is out of the way.
As a feat of sheer technical excellence, the Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the magic: imaginary creatures come to life, fantastic world is manifested, and the sequence of heart shows what an accomplished action Director Jackson has become. At the same time, it does not go beyond the fundamental issues which plagued the first outing. The result is an entertaining adventure with some of the really expert-but they still failed to justify the film's almost three-hour run.
The Film follows a young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman, who continues to prove how interesting he could no matter the circumstances) on a search with 13 dwarves. Led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Grey, this group to mount Solitary, in which Thorin will assume a place befitting a dwarf Kingdom of Erebor as King. Along the way they grappled with elf cold-hearted, the horrors of the forest of Mirkwood, and the mighty dragon Smaug himself (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). Flirting in the last film as one giant eye, Smaug lay waste to Erebor decades earlier, and now sleep in the mountain of Silence, keeping a particular artifact and one that is important for searching Thorin.
If the first Hobbit film is hampered by the introduction of true slow as dwarves, Bilbo seduced here Jackson jump right into the action--and make no mistake, this is a film of action above all else. Battle of deep and physical horror roots, Jackson shines through in the film love to a contraction, and while there is nothing wrong help computer-generated imagery, polish so high it's all come together in a delirious frenzy. I wrote in my review of An Unexpected Journey that the action sequences are more like watching a video game of the movie, and the same thing applies here-but this time it was a next-gen video games, and I really want to play.
That said, there is little holding things together besides a never ending series of events is almost random. Gandalf told the group to find shelter with a shape-shifter who happens to live nearby. In the forest of Mirkwood, our hero is suddenly attacked by a giant spider (ordered so terrible it kept creeping me out today after seeing the film). Fairy easy to save the day. Orc arrived seems just to up the ante. Taken individually, the same order as good as set piece we've seen this year, but that's what they feel like: list of set pieces, shuffled and play back randomly.
Part of the problem is the hero himself. The charm of The novel The Hobbit in the imagination and adventure, not the character of a rather thin, and arranging things just magnifies the flaws. Though Thorin thawing at the end of An Unexpected Journey, here he returns to be as stoic as ever, and the struggle with the Ring Bilbo relegated to perfunctory sidenote. The return of Legolas is the high point and departure from the book, but even then Orlando Bloom is gone sarcastic humor he brought to the role the first time around. No amount of visual grandeur or high frame rate photography can cover this issue (though thankfully the latter comes across more as a bad visual options today, not the deal-killing interference it last year).
No matter how much Jackson and his colleagues stretch and pull the narrative there is no avoiding the fact that Tolkien didn't conceive The Hobbit as a grand, sprawling epic. Perhaps it's no wonder that one of the most memorable characters in the film this is the one the author himself never even dreamt of: elf Tauriel. Played by Evangeline Lilly (lost), he was a complete invention on the part of the filmmakers, but his emotional struggle with the ethics of the elf King Thranduil-as well as her romantic taboo-flowers that stand out as the most interesting emotional elements of the film. Tauriel fill the gaping, heart-shaped void in the center of The Desolation of Smaug, serves as recognition almost silently from the makers of the film source material does not have the heft to sustain three films long on its own.
Thankfully Smaug rights itself in the film’s final hour as our heroes reach the Lonely Mountain. The movie’s trailers have been careful to not reveal Smaug in all his glory, but the character is yet another example of how Weta’s visual effects wizards are some of the very best in the world. The result is an extended sequence with the kind of scale and majesty that would feel right at home in Jackson’s original Rings trilogy. It’s also the movie at its most pure: total spectacle, freed from the structure and story problems that hinder it elsewhere.
Birthed in the shadow of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the new Hobbit films were always going to be subjected to high expectations, and while Smaug is certainly an improvement over An Unexpected Journey it never hits the heights of Jackson’s first forays to Middle-earth. Unto itself, that’s fine; this is a different story, after all, with a different kind of appeal and charm all its own. However, it’s that decision to turn Tolkien’s children’s book into a grand trilogy that continues to define the new series. When The Desolation of Smaug is at its best, you can almost glimpse the sleeker, more straightforward adaptation of The Hobbit that could have been. I’d like to know what that movie would have been like — but at least we’ve got some amazing action sequences to keep us interested in its place.