I would very much like to write a positive review about the Desolation of Smaug. I would like to focus on the beautiful visuals, the clever jokes and fun moments which sparked laughter and general enjoyment, or even on the casting. The LOTR references or the action sequels definitely kicked ass. These are all great things the movie brought forth which most definitely cannot be ignored. But I would be very dishonest if I say that I was too impressed or liked the movie. I would be lying if I claimed this is a good movie altogether.
For starters, there is no real story. There is no actual script arc. What was this movie about, as a movie? Is there an actual intro, or climax, conflict, and conclusion. This movie feels more like an overblown episode of an HBO fantasy series, rather than an actual film. Even if you compare it to the old LOTR trilogy you can see that this one pales in comparison when it comes to its wholesomeness, build up and story. I do not have a problem with the fact that they decided to choose selectively from the book or to invent characters – they have the creative right not to stick to the book, but present their own interpretation of the story with their imagination. I have the slight feeling Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh were a tad bit arrogant about it this time. It really seems like they thought that by recycling old LOTR formula or adding endless action sequences and camera spin ups making the viewer nauseous more than anything, they would be able to fool the audience in thinking this movie actually has more to offer as an actual journey into fantasy lands, and get away with it. Well no. We are not idiots. This movie feels more like a filler than an actual movie on its own. It gave the viewer as much as its trailer did and not much more. A filler made so that there are three movies rather than two or even one. So they can make money? Or just give the fans more things to look forward to? Either reason is not worth it, if done badly. And this one was.
The character development was also non-existent. Let alone they cut off important and extremely interesting characters such as Beorn who looked more like he was out of the Grimm TV series than a Middle Earth movie, but also not including actual vital and interesting conflicts, dialogues and also miming characters and turning them into clumsy Disney monsters (reference: wtf Smaug)? That is unacceptable. Once again, I do not have a problem with the adding of new characters or the selectiveness in their portrayal but this movie had less character development and depth than the latest Disney movie Frozen. If you do something, especially if you do something which is your own creation, you have to do it with depth, understanding, care and proper motivation. And not just so you add love triangles, because that’s what the modern audience wants, or hot elf chicks, or awkward Sauron CGI so people never forget this is actually a prequel to the LOTR. Yes well, we NEVER do forget, it is rather impossible, isn’t it, when it has been thrown in your face almost every other minute? But this is The Hobbit and The Hobbit is not all about unnecessary and rather obvious LOTR set up, it is an amazing book and an adventure of its own. And at this point, it seems that this movie failed to grasp that.
Lastly and shortly, the environment. Did you notice how most of the scenes were too zoomed in, focusing mainly on the people in the shot? I understand that this particular feature is a personal preference but it is one that did not appeal to me, at all. It really felt like most of the action was happening closely around the actors, there were no general shots, no real landscapes and hence no real atmosphere. It was so obvious that it was in a studio and the rest was drawn around it quickly that it became annoying most of the time. The frames were mostly zoom ins thus feeling plastic and without real depth. It was almost like they had to fill these scenes quickly and as cheaply as possible so filming outside or in an actual setting or large scale décor was out of the question. So even the Middle Earth environment, the one which even if you hated the first Hobbit movie you could not deny was amazing, felt quick, fake and without real substance in this one.
And so… Do not get me wrong, I am a fervent admirer, fan and supporter of Peter Jackson and his team, the Lord of the Rings has always been my most favorite trilogy and I deeply admire his imagination, creativity and brave experimentation style but as such it is even more so that this movie was a disappointment. Overall, even if I was to detach it from the book, from the Middle Earth mythology, purely as a movie, the Desolation of Smaug did it all wrong. And that makes me sad…. So, here is to hoping the last one does better.
Movie score: 5.5