REVIEW: The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

This post will have spoilers. A LOT of spoilers. You have been warned!

It’s that time of year again; time for another installment of The Hobbit. I’ll try to be nice but it won’t be easy! ;)

First off, if you’ve never read the book, you’ll probably enjoy these three movies. If you can forget that you’ve read the book, you’ll probably enjoy these three movies. However, if you’ve read the book and can’t forget that fact, you’ll probably hate these three movies; this one more than the last.

It’s faults are many; from poor overall pacing, to the continuance of the white Orc theme, to the love triangle between Legolas, Tauriel and Kili. It spends too long in some areas and not enough time in others.

The film starts with Beorn which is a wonderful scene in the book. It is cut down to a few lines here and then off they go to Mirkwood. Then they fight the giant spiders which could have been handled better. Then they are captured by elves which is correct but seems like they are there for a few hours as opposed to the month it is in the book. Then they escape the elves and suddenly are in a pitched Orc, dwarf, elf battle on the river in barrels. They are then picked up by Bard the bargeman(!) to be taken to Esgaroth. Meanwhile, Gandalf is busy dealing with The Necromancer. It’s a nice aside that is barely given mention in the novel. However, the final part of this subplot invalidates parts of The Lord of the Rings movies as it reveals that The Necromancer is Sauron; 60 years before Gandalf must run off to (now) re-find out the same information.

The inclusion of Legolas is canonically annoying but plausible. I can actually live with it. The budding romance between Kili and Tauriel, a character that doesn’t exist in any of the books, is not only extraneous but implausible; dwarves and elves are two different species. Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria!

Finally, we get to the Lonely Mountain, find the door and get to Smaug the Dragon. For unknown reasons Bilbo is reluctant to leave the Ring on for extended periods of time and stands visible before Smaug more often than not. A whole cloth action scene involving dwarven forges and a large quantity of molten gold wraps up the film.

Don’t get me wrong the action is well done. My problem is that some of it shouldn’t exist. I truly enjoy good fantasy action sequences but with a property as beautiful and entrenched as this book is, embellishments that are superfluous and detract from that narrative feel wrong.

Changes that make a book work better as a film are fine and understandable. Changes that are there simply for the sake of making another billion dollar trilogy from a 300 page book are just plain wrong.