Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug...Featuring: Dungeons, Sexy Tree Surfing Elves, Whiny Dragons, and the Itsy Bitsy BIG ASS SPIDERS

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the second installment of the over grandiose journey from the 300 page book that we all know and love. One that I am still shocked that is being split into three very long movies. Now the Desolation of Smaug continues the story of Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and a band of determined dwarves in their quest to get Erebor back from the wicked dragon, Smaug. Considering this is the meat of the story arc, it is definitely more action packed than the first.
It’s a tale we can all say, is made longer through many side stories that didn’t exist in the book, yet still adds a more interesting twist as it weaves parts of the Lord of the Rings into the prequel. Jackson is clearly preparing to sync The Hobbit with the rest of the trilogy as if it was part of his plans all along.
Bard's a bad ass...j/k guys, he runs for his life most of the movie
So what is different about the movie? It’s been a while since I read the Hobbit, but a few things that stand out are Legolas and Tauriel, Gandalf’s epic battle against the necromancer, as well as Bard’s renegade side story. Purists will snub their nose at the vast changes Jackson has made, but I have to argue that Jackson follows the book quite closely and still delivers the most fantastically detailed version of these stories to date. 

The one change I appreciated was finding out where Gandalf is running off to as it was never explained in the book. It was very typical for Gandalf to dip out of the picture without as much of a word of where he was going except to tend to some “wizard” business that didn’t concern the rest of the mortals of middle-earth.
Overall, well done. We start seeing the effects of the ring on Bilbo even more in this movie as well as a lot more action considering this is part of the rising climax of the story arc for the Hobbit. Although the consistent capturing of the dwarves got old as it happens three different times in this movie, one after another. There just seems like more is happening in this movie than the first one, especially the whole battle with Smaug inside the Lonely Mountain was pretty cool to watch. The elves were great as always and I personally love watching them. Its a shame we didn't get to stay in Mirkwood too long to get to discover a bit more about Legolas's history and how he escaped his father's hideous eyebrow gene.
Beorn goes super saiyan on his spare time
The dynamics between the characters are interesting to note as well. I like how they handled Beorn, although he looked different then how I imagined him, the one thing they definitely got right was his size. I remember him being quite huge. I feel like Jackson made an effort to distinguish the more important characters this time around. The rest of the dwarves though, kind of faded into the background as side characters. A few of them barely had any lines at all instead of the first where I remember everyone of them had at least something to say or contribute. I came to expect that not everyone needs to have equal time. This story really is about Bilbo, Thorin and Gandalf for the most part. Everyone else is just there along for the ride.

I had heard some commentary about how the movie felt, as it ended quite abruptly . Usually I would agree, but I was pretty clear on where the ending was going to be in this movie. Toward the end of the epic battle of Smaug vs. the dwarves, I knew some where this is going to cut off. The closing lines "I am fire, I am death" gave me a feeling of closure around that point. It was pretty clear where the ending was for me. So I wonder if anyone else picked up on that feeling of finality?

The CGI gives me mixed feelings at best. At times Smaug looked incredible and exactly how I would envision a menacing, fire-breathing terror. The skin of his throat had me amazed on how realistic it looked in its movement. However there were times where Smaug looked only OK and I feel the close-ups of his face were the worst of it. CGI was used heavily in this film and came into account with the wargs, elves, orcs, and anything else done in multiples. The blend between CGI orcs and real painted orcs was highly noticeable in close fight scenes, making it some what awful once you noticed how different in quality they appeared. Makes me wonder why they didn't blend them a bit better. Peter should know better by now on how easily noticeable a CGI orc and a real orc's movements could differ. The same goes with the tree surfing elves.

Fight Scenes:
The couple that kills together, stays together...
The most outrageous part of the movie were the fight scenes with the dwarves and the elves. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure all of these people are skilled warriors. However the way they managed to slaughter a whole army of orcs or spiders was over the top. Something I would expect more from amateur movies that needed a good laugh, not this one. The Hobbit was designed to be humorous, but I expected things to make more logical sense. Because real fighting is important in fairy tales.

What bothers me the most is this new trend of allowing the fantasy of a bowman to be able to literally go "destructo mode” in close range combat. Its literally ridiculous and getting out of hand in movies. A bow is a long range weapon, people. Its not designed to be used in a life or death situation.  Thank God, Legolas finally pulled out a sword to fight, because God forbid they may need a close range weapon to sustain a fight that a bow can not handle. Buuut..he does go back to using his bow again because you know...its cool and shit. Style points, homie. Its all about the style points.

This is what all husband's fear most...
Gandalf’s Excellent Adventure:
At one point Gandalf has the most gnarly fight in the movie between light and darkness. The coolest CGI fight in my opinion goes to the Grey Wizard and his nemesis, Sauron. 

And then the acid kicks in and the old man is trippin hard right into an iron cage. Beats me why darkness won here, but apparently Sauron has that effect on people. The result is pretty fantastical, I must say.

Prince Legolas's Unnatural Appearance in HD!:

So here is Legolas in the first movie. You can tell this was ten years ago, so he looks more natural and less super HD like. His hair was also more of a golden color in the film and his eyes, even though were blue, sometimes looked brown in some photos on the internet. The elves are supposed to be ungodly beautiful, so I accepted he was a pretty boy with a bow in this movie.

The quality of the new HD has given Legolas an almost unrealistic masking appearance. His hair is also more whitish/silver blond than golden. Legolas did not age that much between The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. As his father states in the movie, "A hundred years is a blink of an eye for an elf." 6O years is barely anything for this young Prince, so the subtle differences shouldn't have been as noticeable as they were.

  What Smaug Should Have Desolated


1. The asshole who invented stairs and narrow, elevated pathways:

 In the process of watching our heroes step across each pathway and climb up every stair case, my first wonder is "where the piss are the guard rails?" I can't imagine there was never an elf, dwarf or human that didn't accidentally fall off these platforms at one point or another. Am I right? What is up with Middle Earth and walking on platforms with nothing to protect you from falling your ass all the way down a mine shaft? OSHA would be so all over this. That is what Middle-Earth needs...OSHA.

Where are those fruity, tree surfing elves when you need them?
2. Flimsy Webbing:

The point of spiders is that they are nasty things that can spin the strongest of webbing to trap their poor victims. In the Hobbit, apparently that is not true. Not only was it easy for everyone to escape out of the webbing, but it was easy for them to fall through them and onto the ground. 

If these webs are strong enough to support massive spiders crawling over them, they should be strong enough to catch falling people. It was a lazily performed escape in my opinion.

3. Thranduil's eyebrows:     
Exhibit A. Charming
Exhibit B. Child Molester

Exhibit A. This is the actor, Lee Pace. The eyebrows don't look so bad on him. In fact, he's quite handsome.

Exhibit B. This is actor, Lee Pace on elf crack. Look at those eyebrows! BEHOLD THE EYEBROWS!

This is seriously all you see the entire time you watch Thranduil.

4. Peter Jackson's carrot cameos:

For those who haven't seen the movie yet. In the first 3 seconds of the start, director, Peter Jackson walks out  in front of the camera and bites into a carrot. Apparently this drunk guy is STILL eating carrots in Bree many years after in the Lord of the Rings. Which makes NO sense at all because The Hobbit takes place 6O years BEFORE the Lord of the Rings. That carrot eating drunk would be dead by now. Probably from being trampled by horses as he is passed out in the streets.

5. Wormtongue's replacement...unibrow man: 

I'm sexy and I know it.
The conniving servant of the Master of Laketown, unibrow man, also known as Alfrid, seems very much like a Grima Wormtongue like character. Whispering in the master's ears, telling him who is against him. The man is in short stature compared to the man who runs the city. I personally hate this character. One, because it was a carbon copy of the slimy Wormtongue that was in the original books. Two, because he has a hideous unibrow which OF COURSE HE IS THE BAD GUY. Three, because without him, the chasing Bard subplot wouldn't exist. In the book, Bard was not a fugitive and this man is the whole reason Bard has like 99 problems. I say get rid of him. Do we need him? No. Jackson just wanted more conflict.

6. The Two Thugs in the Beginning:

Their stare...was absolutely hysterical. I started laughing immediately due to the cartoonish fixation they had on Thorin. If Thorin couldn't figure out he was in danger I would say turn in your sword, buddy. You don't deserve to be King Underneath the Mountain. What a terrible bunch of contract hit men.

7. Teleportation: 
You mean you had this ability the entire time?!

There is a scene in the movie where they finally get to the lonely mountain, something failed in their plans and they decided to head back down. It was CLEAR in several shots that Bilbo was alone when he discovered the keyhole. No dwarf to be found. They all went down the carved stone sword of the giant stone dwarf and vanished. Jumping for joy, Bilbo accidently drops the key and it is caught by Thorin showing up with ALL of the dwarves! First off...there is no effin way Bilbo couldn't have heard them racing back up. The dwarves are noisy as shit and are half the reason they get in trouble. Second, there was no way all of them got up that quickly. Maybe Thorin since he was the last to leave, but every one of them? If they had that ability all along, they certainly waited a long ass time to reveal it.

Azog plays peekaboo with the dwarves

It was the most bizarre thing. Azog was closing in on the dwarves and out of no where an orc rode in and gave him a summoning! How in the world did they find Azog and his crew? Do they have trackers in middle earth? Like a Track an Orc App? It was such a buzz kill and I think Azog felt the same. Finally...dwarf flesh is so close to feast upon and then....

Random Orc: Sorry, I know you are about to have dinner, but the dark one needs you right now.

Azog: Right now?

Random Orc: Right now.

Azog: WHAT THE FUUUUUUuuuuuDDDDgggggge? [what? All orcs scream death metal when they are angry]

9. The Wargs:

I will say it once, and I will say it again. THE WARGS SUCK in Jackson's Lord of the Rings. I always imagined the warg's to be these sentient wolves that were more intelligent than riding hogs. They took one of my favorite species in this universe and really dumbed them down.

9. Smaug's whininess: 

First off, I love dragons. Ask me what I love most...Ironman comes first, Dragons second. Smaug struck me as an incredibly whiny brat of a beast. When the dwarves get the best of him inside the mountain, all Smaug did besides piss out fire was moan about how unfair they were being and how everyone is against him. Then he turns and whines "If I can't defeat you, ILL JUST BURN EVERYONE YOU LOVE!" *SNIFF!* OK, he didn't say that, but close enough.  It was amazing how this big, tough, arrogant dragon seemed so darn bratty and whiny when he couldn't snuff out a band of dimwitted dwarves.

DnD's Rating: 8/1O

What did you think of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug? Comment below!

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After the Credits? None, unfortunately. Guess we will have to wait to finish this chapter next year. Augh.

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