Last December, the entire Ipe family went with great expectations to see The Hobbit. While the kids liked it well enough, my wife and I were decidedly underwhelmed with the bloated plot, long run time, and the overabundance of CGI chase scenes. Not happy for sure, but disappointed would also be an apt way to describe my feelings about the film. I didn’t mind seeing the film broken out into two or three films, but the story is so bloated that it goes on forever. I’m certain that financial considerations by the studio prompted this decision.
With less enthusiasm, I took the kids tonight to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second film in this children’s book-turned-into-a-trilogy-that-is-now-a-foreboding-and-ominus-prequel-for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. Yes, I said less enthusiasm. The reviews via word of mouth were better, so I attended with more hope. In addition, our friend Vijay met us at the Menlo Park mall and went to the AMC Dine-In
Fork & Screen theater. If I’m going to sit through another 2 hour film, I’m gonna do it as comfortably and hydrated as possible. In case you were wondering, we saw the film in standard 48fps, no 3D.
The film begins with a flashback one year earlier, which I remember was described in one of the LoTR appendices about the 3rd Age, of the initial meeting between Gandalf and Thorin Oakenshield in Bree. It’s fine, and then fast-forwards to the dwarven party (plus one hobbit) attempting to escape orc hunting parties. They meet Beorn, travel through Mirkwood Forest, meet the woodland elves ruled by King Thranduill, and so on. They eventually make their way to Erebor (“The Lonely Mountain”) to confront the dragon Smaug.
Let’s get this out of the way first – purists may be pained to know that Team Jackson / Walsh / Boyens continues to embellish the original story with material from the appendices. Not a crime from my perspective, but there is a lot of embellishment and rewriting of the tale. It’s nice to see a female character, so I’m okay with it.
I still feel that the film drags on for much too long. There is still way too much “Run for your lives!” Also, I’m sad to say, while Smaug looks good and sounds good, the scenes between him, Bilbo, and the dwarves drag on for quite a while. Smaug has this long soliloquy with Bilbo, and then there is this long game of cat and mouse (dragon and dwarf?) as Smaug attempts to kill them. After a long time, I had flashbacks of Money Python and the Holy Grail.
“Get on with it!”
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