Desolation of Smaug Review

Arts and Culture Film

People say write about what you know. I know about Hobbits, Dwarves, Wizards and Dinosaurs. I thought I would write about them.

Michael Jackson did an excellent job of bringing the first Tolkien inspired films to life. After a brief slump in mid 2009 his directing skills have risen back to their former glory with the second Hobbit movie. Several of the scenes from the latest film really echo his earlier work (smooth criminal, thriller etc), and one scene in particular, where the dwarves escape from an Elf fortress by rolling down a river inside barrels really reminded me of the music video for “Beat It”.

A real problem with the first film I found was that the camera was constantly pointing down so that the cameramen could get the vertically challenged hobbits and dwarves in shot. This made some of the backgrounds quite uninteresting, as most of them were just of the floor (leaves, stones, twigs and general non-descript forest doodads).

As with most movies directed by Michael Jackson the plot is constantly interrupted by bouts of dancing, singing and flailing of limbs. This seemed to work in his earlier works (bad, dirty dianna, rock with me etc) but dwarves are not the most agile of creatures. Their attempts at dancing are pitiful to say the least, and again most of these scenes (one lasting 20 minutes) are plagued with backgrounds of the floor and camera focusing issues.

Another note worth mentioning are the obvious budget cuts affecting this second hobbit film. There is a noticeable visual difference when comparing the first film and second films, and the cameras suffer from lens fogging and aforementioned focusing issues. At some points during the movie you can hear the rustling of crisp packets as actors and staff behind the scenes enthusiastically snack before their next screen call.

When I left the cinema after seeing the first hobbit film, a fellow movie goer exclaimed: “I cant wait for the last film where they kill that dinosaur thing”. His obvious lack of Tolkien knowledge made me angry, so I spat on his back on my way out of the cinema. The film is obviously made to satisfy the needs of both Tolkien fans and the general movie going public alike.

 

Sadly, the dinosaur thing isn’t vanquished in this movie, though he is arguably the most impressive part of the film. The voice acting for the dragon Smaug is “eggcellent” (though no eggs are layed in this movie). Les Dennis does an excellent job. Smaug is as awesome as he is menacing, and the enormous gold filled cavern in which he sleeps is CGI at its very best. Its pure eye candy. The mountains of gold will make you feel poor or at worst suicidal.

The film was obviously made in quite a hurry. In one scene Gandalf actually forgets his lines completely. His face goes blank and just lies down on the floor. This was obviously unintended as the camera cannot follow him, resulting in a background scene with no actors on screen for about three minutes. This was obviously just hastily pasted into the final cut of the movie to bump up total running times.

All in all, this second instalment of the hobbit franchise does not disappoint. If you are looking for somewhere to go on your own to give your wife the impression that you are cheating on her, the approx. 180 minute running time of this movie will definitely give her cause for concern.

10/10

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