The Desolation of Plot


Before I get started on this I offer the warning that there are several spoilers included.

Great Tolkien’s ghost!  What did I just watch?

First of all I would like to say that I had high hopes for this film after being slightly disappointed by the first Hobbit movie.  I enjoyed it but as a fan of the novel I felt that it was lacking something.  The Desolation of Smaug just blew my mind on how absurd a film based around a beloved franchise can get.

I can overlook some of the ridiculous humor and I am more than happy to accept that they added things to the story in order to explain what Gandalf was doing while separate from the party. but sheesh, enough is enough.

The first problem I had with this film was an overdose of action scenes.  Don’t get me wrong, I like action movies but this one just seemed to rush from one drawn out fight scene to another.  Scenes that should have been much longer and more fleshed out, for example the dwarves meeting Beorn, were tragically short while scenes that were made entirely for the movie, like the dwarves fighting Smaug by making a giant gold statue at him (don’t even ask), lasted for twenty to thirty minutes.  A well done action scene which has good choreography is one thing but when character development and the plot suffers for it it is a problem.

Problem number two: all of the camera mugging.  Oh the mugging!  Let’s kill an orc in either an amusing or relatively disgusting way…  mug the camera.  Let’s act all tough and stoic…  mug the camera.  Now this is one of the lesser problems but the elves were the biggest perpetrators of this crime.  We can be warriors too but we’re pretty people so gaze in awe upon the intense look on our faces.  If mugging had been the only problem with this movie it would have been barely noticeable but combined with everything else it was laughable.

Here comes the one that just left me completely bewildered.  Plot holes that were big enough to ride an armed company of dwarves through and subplots that will most likely go nowhere or ever be truly explained.  Examples? Plenty.  The guards of Lake-town give Bard an extremely hard time when he tries to enter town with what they consider to be illegal fish.  Later on when Orcs have invaded the town to hunt the dwarves these same guards are nowhere to be seen.  One of the Orcs even manages to leave the town by riding his warg right over the large bridge that connects Esgaroth to the mainland.  One could argue that the Orcs killed the guards but a scene explaining this is never shown there are not even any bodies left around to hint at this.  Legolas also apparently has the ability to summon a horse to his location instantly to chase this Orc even though up until this point in the movie Legolas has always been seen to travel on foot.  They also imply that Thranduil, Legolas’ father, has been burned by the dragon and is using some form of enchantment to cover up his injuries.  I have a feeling that this will never be explained and was totally unnecessary.  And the one that left me completely flabbergasted was the movie’s complete disregard for simple physics.  Yes I know that Middle Earth is a magical place but it doesn’t explain why Thorin is completely immune to heat transfer.  He rides an old iron wheelbarrow or shield or something similar down a river of molten gold without any kind of protection.  I understand that gold has a lower melting point than iron but it still gets awful hot and so would that makeshift raft, let alone the air around it.  Minutes later he emerges completely unscathed.  If dwarves are so unaffected by heat why do they fear dragon fire?

I could ramble on and on about the problems I have with this film but I think I will just end with a simple list of things that we can take away from this movie:

  1. Kili is such a charmer among the dwarves that he even has the skill to gain the attention of the elven maid Tauriel.
  2. Balin is good for nothing more than confirming what all the other party members suspect with a stream of exposition.
  3. Dwarves are so near sighted that they are completely unable to notice a nicely carved stair at least fifty feet wide and hundreds of feet tall a few hundred yards in front of them.
  4. The party does not have a single member with a sense of direction as they get lost within Mirkwood mere minutes after entering it.
  5. Dwarves have the most extreme sausage fingers in the world.

…  and so on and so forth.

I’m not trying to prevent anyone from seeing this movie but please, if you do, leave all objectivity at the door.  This movie has its fun points and I found myself laughing several times, unfortunately some of these moments were ones that were not meant to be humorous.  If one turns off their brain and just watches it for sheer entertainment value I think it succeeds but don’t go in expecting anything more.  Peter Jackson’s vision for this film is just too wonky.

Unfortunately my list of pros will be woefully short compared to my complaints.

  1. Weta’s special effects continue to be top notch and Smaug and his horde look fantastic.
  2. The actors performances continue to be solid even if they are not given enough time to flesh out their characters.  Martin Freeman especially shines during his conversation with the dragon.
  3. The black arrow and how to fire it to stop a dragon makes more sense in the movie than it did in the book.  I won’t spoil this one so you can make up your own mind.
  4. When meant to be funny the film actually does quite well with the silliness and slapstick.

This movie frustrated me but a friend came up with a theory that would make the absurdity of this movie make sense and even make it forgivable.  He suggested that because it is Bilbo telling the story that many of the over the top scenes could just be Mr. Baggins exaggerating and embellishing his story.  With this kind of viewpoint The Desolation of Smaug becomes an old hobbit telling a tall tale and makes it fun.  I just wish that this thought had occurred to me during the movie.  I hope that this is the way Peter Jackson meant it to be taken.

Anyway, I have rambled on long enough so I will wish all of you a good day and remember don’t take my word for it go and see and judge for yourself.


Posted on December 17, 2013, in Movies, Rant and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. As I understand it, when he made the trilogy, the Tolkien family got pretty honked off with the liberties he took and more or less denounced him and his work. Which leads me to believe that The Hobbit is sort of his “Well, fine! I’ve still got the rights to it, I’ll make it whatever I want! Nyah!”

  2. Well Actually Peter Jackson was done with the middle earth after the Lord of the Rings, and the project ended up in Guillermo Del Toro’s hands. Guillermo had crazy ideas and some innovations for the movie but the studios were afraid that it was too different from the trilogy, so they kicked him out and they asked Peter Jackson to finish what was started. Under the pressure of the studios and the fans, we ended up with another trilogy as long from a shorter book. All the critics are correct and the movies is actually a producer and studio movie not anymore a creative movie by a bunch of talented fans. The only good parts in the movies are the parts scripted by Del Toro (the goblins lair and the barrel escape) and the beautiful visual of Jackson. Everything else is imposed by the studios : Legolas, the love story, the links with the trilogy (Gandalf looks so dumb not have figured out of felt the presence of the RING… unless you know that that RING wasn’t the RING at that time of writing) so the movies are made to be entertaining. As Doc friend said and I think that’s the best approach when watching those movies, it’s that it’s for kids and the story is written by a Hobbit that has a tendency to exageration.

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