The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

December 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Posted in 2013 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ½

It’s funny. I actually liked this film more than it’s predecessor (“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”) but have rated it quite a bit lower. I’m not sure what that means other than that I am random and capricious in my ratings. In both films, I was very aware of the new 48 frames-per-second filming technology.  It definitely makes images crisper on screen but it also highlights the limits of our special effects: the CGI creatures look more noticeably animated and plastic-like and, this time, I was very struck by how fake the elfin ears looked (primarily because you can see the pores on people’s faces that then aren’t present on their ears).  I think I actually prefer a grainier film until special effects can catch up.  As for the plot, this one is a bit darker than the last and draws much more heavily from outside sources (meaning sources outside of “The Hobbit;” be they other Tolkien works or from Peter Jackson, I cannot tell).  It does work as a coherent story, particularly in light of the LOTR films that this series prequels; just don’t hold it accountable to the mood and pacing of the book.  This film does have it’s fun moments and, in fact, the best part comes during a scene involving barrels rushing through white waters; that whole scene is beautifully choreographed and full of laugh-out-loud fun.  In fact, this film seemed to do best when it was having fun.  During it’s sentimental scenes, it more often fell completely flat.  We do get the Stephen Colbert cameo I had been pining for the last time (see if you can catch it) and we do get Orlando Bloom and Benedict Cumberbatch.  In fact, we may get just a bit too much of everyone and everything.  At almost 3 hours, the film wore me out.  I don’t know if my audience agreed but, then, perhaps I am just getting old.  I could have done with 45 minutes less of the danger-laughter-danger barrage.  And we still have one more film to go…

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