Peter Jackson appears to suffering from George Lucas
He’s under the mistaken notion that more is always better.
That’s not always the case.
Peter Jackson did something really special when he brought
the Lord of the Rings to our screens years ago. It was dense material that no
one ever thought would make it to theaters in a believable way, but Jackson
proved them wrong.
He’s struggling with The Hobbit, though.
The Hobbit is a much shorter story with a lot simpler tones.
So why are the films so convoluted?
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Jackson feels the
need to pad these films. I can see expanding the book to two movies, but by
expanding it to three it feels like these films are bursting with a bunch of
Way too much filler, quite frankly.
That being said, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug does have
true moments of greatness.
The action beats are phenomenal. And, while I was leery
about dusting off Orlando Bloom’s Legolas and wedging him into this story,
some of the elf story lines are my favorite in this flick. There are
laugh-out-loud moments where Legolas is concerned, including a nod to his
future friendship with Gimli.
Also, any action scenes involving Legolas are as
entertaining as they were in Lord of the Rings – especially his introduction in
this film and his antics during the dwarves’ barrel escape. Also, just a note,
the barrel scenes could be some of my favorite moments put out on the big
screen this year.
Not everything with the elves is hunky dory, though. There
are hints of a love triangle in this that baffle me. And, as much as I loved
Evangeline Lily as Kate on Lost – she lacks something on the big screen. Sure,
the elves are supposed to be largely detached, but Lily seems to struggle when
forced to play those beats.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
opens up in a flashback
at the Prancing Pony. It’s not lost on me that the first person we see is Peter
Jackson, in one of his tongue-in-cheek cameos. Unfortunately, instead of being
cute, this time it smacks of narcissism. Jackson seems like he’s getting too
big for his britches – like he knows more than J.R.R. Tolkien enthusiasts do.
While the scenes with the skin shifter are interesting, the
movie doesn’t really seem to pick up speed until our heroes make their way into
Mirkwood -- which is beautifully rendered. After a showdown with some hungry spiders, the dwarves face off with
the elves and then are on their way to Laketown.
The casting in these is still really strong, with Richard
Armitage, Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman
holding over as standouts from the
first film. Luke Evans manages to carve out a stoic figure with Bard in this
film, and Lee Pace has some chilling moments as the erratic Thranduil.
My complaints for this movie, though, are the same as the
first. Only three of the dwarves – Thorin, Balin and Kili – seem to have any
definition. And, while Bilbo’s concern over his growing “longing” for the ring
are poignant, they’re also spaced out.
The biggest waste of the film for me was Gandalf’s side
journey to deal with Sauron. Huh? Yeah. It was totally unnecessary and,
unfortunately for McKellen, highlighted the moments where the film starts to
That being said, the end of the film had a magical quality
and Benedict Cumberbatch does a rousing
turn as Smaug. The scenes, towards the
end of the film, where Smaug is hunting Bilbo and the dwarves are simply fantastic.
Since this is the middle portion of a trilogy, the film does
end on a downer note – with Smaug tearing off to make the citizens of Laketown
As much as I love the source material – and revere Jackson’s
film versions of Lord of the Rings – The Hobbit has been really hit or miss for
I still have hope, though, that Jackson will be able to pull
everything together for the finale. I hope I’m not disappointed with a lump of
coal next Christmas.
What do you think? Is The Hobbit living up to the hype?