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2,029 of 2,204 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Desolation of Smaug: One Tolkienian's Perspective
I have read absolutely everything that JRR Tolkien has ever written, and consider myself a Tolkien fanatic. This is my perspective on The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. Please stick with me to the end, and I'll try not to lose you. Let's begin. So...if The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was Peter Jackson giving the purists their dues with a relatively straightforward and...
Published 6 months ago by Anthony L.

versus
165 of 214 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Am I watching a video game? No subtlety and will make you exhausted and weary of violence.
This has to be a phenomenon among movie goers that people are enjoying this film. If you haven't read the book by Tolkien, it is far less violent, less involved, has way better dialogue, and has some real meaning. The thing is, I don't understand how anyone can sit through this much violence, poor dialogue, and constant video game type CGI. It is exhausting and wearying...
Published 5 months ago by Sheepy


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2,029 of 2,204 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Desolation of Smaug: One Tolkienian's Perspective, February 26, 2014
By 
I have read absolutely everything that JRR Tolkien has ever written, and consider myself a Tolkien fanatic. This is my perspective on The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. Please stick with me to the end, and I'll try not to lose you. Let's begin. So...if The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was Peter Jackson giving the purists their dues with a relatively straightforward and book-faithful film, then THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG is Peter Jackson saying: "You've had your fun. Now stand back and watch what I can do."

And the ride he takes us on is absolutely exhilarating. SMAUG is darker, moodier, and more mature than any Middle Earth film we've seen thus far. Evil hangs over our heroes like a black pall (literally). Beset on all sides by revenge-seeking orcs, wargs, terrifying spiders, pale creepy-crawlies, double-crossing elves, treacherous humans, a growing Evil in a ruined Elvish citadel, and a huge, vain, fire-breathing dragon...both the heroes and the audience are plunged into a terrifyingly new world. And there's a lot of new stuff to feast your eyes on along the way.

Castwise, Tauriel is a welcome female addition to the gang, played with charisma and spunk by Evangeline Lilly. Lee Pace's regal and scheming elf-king Thranduil is absolutely astounding, delivering a tour-de-force in a few minutes of screentime. Luke Evans could not be better as Bard, simultaneously grim and noble. But of course, the real draw here is Benedict Cumberbatch, wearing two very villainous hats. The first is as the Necromancer, who, in addition to manifesting himself as an inkblot, is really quite scary. And the second...is the reason that you came here in the first place: Smaug. The Terrible. Smaug just so happens to be the greatest dragon ever! He is everything I wanted him to be and more: vain, seductive, manipulative, terrifying, and of course, absolutely huge. I'd just like to congratulate Cumberbatch and the conceptual crew on his tremendous design.

Our returning cast is also fantastic. Richard Armitage's Thorin Oakenshield is electrifying, with gravitas and stage presence enough for a character twice his stature. His grave eyes and deep voice tell of a lifetime of war and sorrow, and every line he speaks could be delivered by a king. Martin Freeman continues to be perfect as Bilbo, and Ian McKellen's Gandalf is just as crusty and warm as you remember him. Oh, and Legolas? Legolas is awesome. Like, web-swinging, spider-slaying, arrow-shooting, orc-killing awesome!

Speaking of orc-killing, The Desolation of Smaug has, in THIS Tolkienian's perspective, the best action scene of the year: the barrels. The breathless, crazy, confusing, insane three-way-battle sequence (don't tease me for it) had me LITERALLY crying with sheer unadulterated glee! The rest of the action, including a hard-hitting spider attack, and a sprawling, rather one-sided battle between 10 dwarves, a hobbit, and a dragon shows that Jackson has absolutely outdone himself!

Well, now for the cons. If Desolation of Smaug has a con, it's that it really, really wants to keep moving to newer, darker territories, so whenever it slows down it feels, well...like an intermission between set-pieces. And the ending will divide the audience: you'll either love the breathless cliffhanger, or hate that you have to wait another year to find out what happens! And as a Tolkien purist, I have to address the fact of accuracy. SMAUG really isn't that accurate to the books. But you know what - I actually like that! I enjoy having absolutely NO IDEA what Peter Jackson has cooked up next. God knows what he's got cooked up for Part Three!

So in conclusion, The Desolation of Smaug is a terrific ride. Filled with amazing action, excellent performances, and the requisite gorgeous New Zealand landscape shots and Howard Shore score, SMAUG is everything I hoped for and more. My rating? Five Kings Under the Mountain - an absolute must-see! I hope you've enjoyed my (completely subjective) perspective on the film. Drop a line in the comments to tell me what you thought.

P.S. Remember that the like/dislike buttons are not for saying whether or not you disagreed with the reviewer, but for whether the review was helpful in your decision to purchase the film. If this review was helpful to you, please give it a like. Cheers!
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377 of 431 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous fun, and a great expansion of the world of Middle-earth!, February 23, 2014
By 
Blue Canary (Berkeley, California) - See all my reviews
First off, I have no trouble admitting this movie is not perfect: I think the editing could have been tighter; I would have preferred a bit more focus on Bilbo's part of the story; and the filmmakers' determination to ignore all laws of physics, (especially in the 'molten gold' sequence), is truly impressive.

So, now that that's out of the way: I ADORED this film! Flaws and all, I loved it, and after watching three times in theater, found I only loved it more.

Yes, it strays from the book, and embellishes the story left and right; the thing is, those embellishments come from Jackson and co.'s deep love of the material, and their desire to spend just as long in Middle-earth as they possibly can. They LOVE this world, and it shows. They want to show us everything, and bring to life details the books only hinted at. Even when they make choices I wouldn't have made, I'm grateful to them for bringing this world to life so richly.

The cast is uniformly stellar. Martin Freeman, in particular, IS Bilbo Baggins, and every moment he's onscreen is a joy. I was one of those who initially doubted Richard Armitage could pull off Thorin, (so much older in the books), but he has won me over completely. I've really come to love all the dwarves, in fact, and to appreciate them as individual characters, which is frankly something the book never actually managed. (Special shout-out here for James Nesbitt, who's charm as Bofur never fails to make me grin!)

And then there's Tauriel, played be Evangeline Lilly. Her character was controversial, but why? No, Tauriel was not in the book. But as Tolkien never once said, "and all of the elves were men," and as there wasn't a single named female character in the book at all, Tauriel's presence is both justified and necessary. [For the record, I saw the similarly controversial "romance" between Tauriel and Kili as no romance at all: just a very clearly one-sided puppy love from Kili, and a warm fondness and protective instinct from Tauriel. Very sweet, and really not over-the-top.]

Much as I loved The Hobbit: AUJ, this one's better. The pacing is improved, the story-telling is tighter, and the action feels more plot-relevant. I could easily write on and on about my favorite scenes, and how many great moments have lodged permanently in my memory, but better to let folks watch this for themselves.

I do just want to add, regarding those reviews that gave one star expressly because this is not the extended edition: Getting two cuts to chose from is a good thing, folks. No one is forcing anyone to buy the movie twice. Me, I actually WILL buy both, because I know from experience that when I re-watch these films, I'm sometimes in the mood for the longest possible visit to Middle-earth, (extended edition), and sometimes I just want to cut to the chase (theatrical). But no one's making me do that, and it's awesome that we do have a choice!
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284 of 342 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Installment 2 Illustrates Old Adage, January 5, 2014
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is an excellent, fast paced, action packed film that was absolutely fabulous eye candy in IMAX 3D; and yet Peter Jackson still takes time to deliver excellent character development and back story, which was well appreciated by this viewer even if some of the story line is original to Jackson's movie. This installment is also more reminiscent of Jackson's LOTR trilogy with the welcome return of the elves as a major part of the story line. I can highly recommend the second film to anyone who appreciates Jackson's deferential approach to Tolkien. However after reading perhaps the hundredth review from fellow readers who still appear not to have noticed, I feel compelled also to point out that all movies based on books are highly abridged versions of the original literary work. The old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" should be instantly apparent as the reason for this difference before the opening credits are finished rolling. As vastly different art forms books and movies are by necessity presented in a way that will best connect with their particular audience; so why incessantly complain that there are differences between them? In the Desolation of Smaug the art of effective movie making is once again aptly illustrated by Jackson and underscored by Philipa's skillful transformation of the book into a screen play that can still do J.R.R. Tolkien's vision justice. And when a few frames of a movie can chew through twenty or more pages of a book, deviations from the original source material are to be expected in order to maintain pacing and give certain characters enough dialogue to cast leading actors of the caliber required for such an epic film. Not to mention that some readers protests seem oddly out of place in reference to the Desolation of Smaug when the first installment, An Unexpected Journey, was as widely criticized for being too slow paced. The second part of the trilogy is anything but plodding. The extended versions are often the best compromise the movies can offer to the book. I for one can hardly wait for the Bluray, 3D extended version of The Desolation of Smaug to be delivered to my door (while equally glad that I am not required to sit for six hours to watch the complete movie version of The Hobbit--unless I want to at home!)
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165 of 214 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Am I watching a video game? No subtlety and will make you exhausted and weary of violence., April 19, 2014
This review is from: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack) (Blu-ray)
This has to be a phenomenon among movie goers that people are enjoying this film. If you haven't read the book by Tolkien, it is far less violent, less involved, has way better dialogue, and has some real meaning. The thing is, I don't understand how anyone can sit through this much violence, poor dialogue, and constant video game type CGI. It is exhausting and wearying on the eyes and brain to have a constant barrage of violence in between brief moments of plot.

So let me break down my issues with this film:
1. The dialogue.
Yet another LOTR movie with very poor dialogue. Dialogue is not subtle in any way. It is not meaningful. It seems like every single line of dialogue Jackson writes is attempted to be super powerful, dark, and inspirational. This is tiring and laughable dialogue especially when you have read the exquisite dialogue from the book. Tolkien is a master of language. The dialogue was already written for this movie. Not much extra was needed.

2. Violence.
Is this what movie making has become in the past 10 years? A little bit of plot followed by hundreds of acts of CGI video game violence? How can any fan honestly write a review of this film and say if Tolkien saw it he would be proud? You may be saying these are Jackson's films, but Jackson on multiple occasions has stated that ultimately these should be Tolkien's films. I doubt that. The violence is wearying and it is catering to our every increasing population of people who do not appreciate strong dialogue, plot, and would rather watch a video game.

3. Smaug and Bilbo.
This scene should warrant Jackson a permanent ban from touching any Tolkien book again. This chapter in the book was so powerful with Bilbo and Smaug exchanging cunning with each other in the flicker of darkness. The drama was caused by the sense of imminent danger or sudden movements. The strength and power of the chapter was built on the base of words and imagery of emotion. What did Jackson turn this scene into? Yet another exhausting video game CGI fest of violence. Shame, absolute shame.

4. Anything outside of Bilbo.
What makes movies work is a connection with the protagonist and I'm struggling to figure out who it is in the film. Last I checked, the book was about Bilbo's journey from frightened sheltered hobbit to brave hero. That is all lost in a convolution of connections to the LOTR movies, made up characters and plots, and intervals of elongated unnecessary violence. Legolas, ditch it. The love between a dwarf and an elf, please. Bilbo is many times pushed to the back of the film. I often times forget he is in the film.

I'm going to get many thumbs down for this review. Not sure why. This is the worst kind of populist film making. There is nothing meaningful about it. I suppose if you are one of the many who enjoy dizzying camera shots, constant video game, cartoon like violence that removes any sort of power that action scenes have, and dialogue that seems written by high school freshman comp students.......well enjoy away.
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74 of 95 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not "the Hobbit". Perhaps "inspired by the Hobbit" would be better?, March 15, 2014
By 
G. Peterson (Orange County, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ok first let me get this off my chest. This movie is NOT The Hobbit. There, I feel better already. That said, it is not a BAD film, but neither is it the timeless classic that a true movie based on the book COULD be.

The first problem is that Peter Jackson is a very literal movie director. There is NOTHING subtle or suggestive in his directing - unlike Tolkien's writing, which is known for having rich depth, back-stories, and nuanced characters. Heck, in the Lord of the Rings film, Jackson opens up with the first 15 minutes explaining the entire history of the rings, Sauron, and Middle Earth - a literal "history lesson" that Tolkien took 1000 pages to slowly reveal. This movie is no different. The story is both dumbed down, by removing important characters or situations, and then dumbed up, by adding over-the-top action sequences that become so gratuitous that after two plus hours of the same stuff they fail to provide any excitement or joy. How could they make Smaug, an ancient red dragon, look pitiful and weak? Simple - after having him chase dwarves and a hobbit around a dwarven city for over 40 minutes without causing the slightest injury to any of them. More on this later...

Why does Jackson feel the need to change the story so much? My biggest complaints:
(1) The continuation of the stupid "orc chasing Thorin" over-story. The orc character was stupid from the beginning, and to have him continue to chase dwarves all over Mirkwood, the Wood Elf City, the City on the Lake, etc, is beyond ridiculous. Gee I wonder if this is going to come to a final conclusion in the last film, with a showdown between Thorin and the Orc? Duh.
(2) The reduction of the role of Beorn - an awesome character in the book who was minimized in the film. In the book Beorn is seen again and plays a vital role at the end. Will he play the same role in Jackson's film? I doubt it.
(3) The reduction of the time in Mirkwood - which did not begin to feel "mirky". Jackson has a problem portraying darkness in his films; the entire section of the first Hobbit movie where Bilbo was lost in the goblin caves was supposed to be in almost complete darkness. Riddles in the Dark felt shallow and artificial because the actors had to pretend that it was dark - and that they couldn't see other even though there was bright lighting. In the book the Hobbit the character of Gollum is never even physically described because he is always in utter blackness. Instead, in this film it was brighter in the caves than in Bilbo's Living Room. Jackson has the same problem with Mirkwood, where in the book the lack of light caused substantial problems. In the movie it is as bright as a Spring Day - and not at all intimidating.
(4) Use of the ring. Jackson takes huge liberties with when and how Bilbo uses the ring. In the book Bilbo NEVER takes the ring off anywhere near the presence of Smaug (because it would have been instant death to do so) and yet Jackson has him chatting with Smaug in plain sight like Smaug is some domesticated pet. There are many other instances where Jackson decides to change how the ring is used - for no apparent reason.
(5) Stand by the Grey Stone when the Thrush Knocks. This is a critical part of the story in the book - the entire reason why the dwarves are rushing to get to the Lonely Mountain within a certain timeframe. Jackson changes how the dwarves find the secret back door. Why? The Last Light of Durin's Day - IS AND WAS the sunset. Jackson changes it into Moonlight? WHY?
(6) Bard the Bowman. This character is changed completely - and is no longer a bowman but a smuggler? Who knows how to use a special dwarven windlass? That is fired from the highest tower of the city hall? That needs a special black bolt? WHY? Once again Jackson both dumbs down the story - then adds unnecessary complexity to it.
(7) The battle with Smaug. There IS no battle with Smaug in the book. In fact, the dwarves never even SEE Smaug in the book. So to go from the dwarves never seeing Swaug to them having a running battle for over 40 minutes with Smaug in the city is ridiculous. Supposedly Smaug, who can melt metal with his breath, entire destroy armies, and devour two complete cities cannot injure or kill a tiny band of dwarves running around. It cheapens him as an evil, indestructible enemy.
(8) Elf/dwarf love? I hated this part. I didn't mind the elvish female character, but I HATED the fact that Jackson felt the need to create a love triangle with her and Fili and Legolas. WORSE - the fact that Fili and a number of dwarves stay behind in the City on the Lake and are not with Thorin in the City under the Mountain. WHY? Now Jackson will have to find some artificial way to join them BACK UP with Thorin for the 3rd movie? Or maybe not?
(9) The sequences with Gandalf were interesting because they touched on what Gandalf MIGHT have been doing while the dwarves were in Mirkwood. However the stupid orc character (who has no point - and yet Jackson continues to stick him in every scene) ruined this for me. The dangers Gandalf was dealing with at the time of the book were a LOT more insidious and threatening than the stupid orc. Additionally there is a section in this film where Gandalf goes to "inspect" a special jail for the leader of the RingWraiths. What???? Once again "literal" Jackson strikes - reducing an evil vengeful spirit into some dude you can keep locked up behind iron bars(?) What?
(10) Barrel ride. I enjoyed the action sequence, but it was completely gratuitous, did not make ANY sense within the context of the story, and felt so artificially inserted that it reduced my overall "suspension of disbelief".

Bottom line - why change a story that is already a classic? Why intentionally replace plot elements - with something that is actually WORSE than the original? The movie felt like someone was vomiting CG money at the screen - without ever asking "does this make the movie BETTER"? In my opinion, 95% of what Jackson changed was changed for the worse.

Sadly, I now know that he HAS to carry some of these elements into the 3rd movie - so I already know parts of the story that will be changed and corrupted. Once again, it will not be for the good of the overall experience.

Note to Jackson - darkness is good. Sublety is good. We aren't all stupid, need to be hit over the head with plot elements, and need action sequences every 5 minutes.

I would have been really upset, but then I thought about this movie as "inspired by" the Hobbit - like a High School Play - and it made me feel better! So if you are looking for The Hobbit, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a bunch of CG action sequences with orcs and dragons and dwarves running around and bumping into each other... they certainly spent a lot of money on it!
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171 of 224 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is the first time I feel this franchise is slipping, February 21, 2014
By 
Jeffrey Timpano (North Bay, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I liked Beorn (not enough screen time), Smaug looked awesome on screen, and I can live with the barrel scene despite it having some really ridiculous moments - But I had so many issues with this particular middle earth film unlike all before it - Mind you the first Hobbit movie had its own red flags to dampen expectations. I understand why Tauriel was added with the number of men in the story but her addition felt forced and her 'take no prisoners' aggressiveness made me really dislike her. The love story in LOTR with Arwen & Aragorn seemed genuine and added to the story but the one with Tauriel and Kili was ridiculous to the point of making one cringe - Seriously, why the instant attraction except 'looks' ?!? - It's stupid and the worst decision made in any Jackson movie so far ie: King Kong, LOTR... you name it. Great to see Orlando Bloom but his face has visibly aged since LOTR which I can live with. The Hobbit may be fantasy and less serious in tone to LOTR but there's way too much over the top stuff going on... Even fantasy should obey the laws of physics to some degree. Without sounding too old fashioned my last and most important beef is the crude references in these Hobbit movies so far such as Bofur's ' have the balls for it' reference to croquet in AUJ and Tauriel's finding 'nothing' comment to Kili about searching down his trousers. I never find these references funny - In this case I also find it disrespectful to Tolkien who led a clean and respectful life and especially since he wrote the Hobbit as a children's book. Success might be going to the head of some people unfortunately... At the end of the day these stories are still Tolkien's and I hope that isn't forgotten on anyone especially Jackson and his crew. I love the book and still feel LOTR are some of the best films made but there's a strong chance I might just skip the Hobbit - Even Howard Shore's score does not meet his usual high standards for this film. The Hobbit had more potential and should have been two lengthy movies - I can't see myself buying this one.
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63 of 83 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Movies and books are different? Who knew..., February 7, 2014
I've been reading the series (Hobbit thru ROTC) once every year and a half or so for 25 years and every now and then throwing in the Silmarillion. I love, repeat LOVE! the books! Tolkein is an undisputed master of tone in his writing. But I also understand that print and film are two entirely different mediums and by definition cannot tell a story the same way. For instance, books let you live inside the head of a character. It's kind of hard to do that effectively on film. Film relies on motion and sound as well as the attention span of an audience. So with those differences in mind, I LOVE the way Peter Jackson is retelling the story. It has all the elements that drive us to go spend our dollars on a movie already and I believe is true to the SPIRIT of what Tolkein wrote.

The Hobbit is a children's book and therefore has a very different tone than LOTR. The beginning of the Hobbit is pretty slow and Jackson set the tone of his first movie accordingly but knew that a movie of this type needs a certain type or amount of energy to keep it going. That's why I was delighted to see the Necromancer concept more fully developed as well as bringing in Galadriel and Saruman. Even though Tolkein really didn't use them in the Hobbit, you gotta know that they are still very important and central characters that are influencing events during the time of the Hobbit and are figuring out that Sauron is alive and well.

TDoS takes the movie-ness of the story to the next level while remaining true to how Tolkein's storyline progresses. Again, it develops the Necromancer elements which are awesome to see on the big screen as well as giving a great introduction to how cool the elves can be when they are in full fighting form. Yes, again there are differences in the details of the material but it still goes back to what is a more effective story telling method on the big screen than what is printed on a page yet retaining the important elements that develops the original story as well as the world in which the story takes place.

Jackson is developing a full story arc that encompasses The Hobbit and LOTR and is deliberately crafting the Hobbit trilogy to become the first several hours in one long epic movie that maintains a consistent tone and feel from start to finish despite the first half being a children's book and the the second half being an adult fantasy series.

I think a lot of people forget that most of the "extra stuff" was written by Tolkein himself in the many appendices and notes that he had written. Since those elements are not contained within the normal chapters of the books, they tend to be forgotten about. I really wish Jackson would delve into how Gandalf recruited Aragorn to protect the Shire while Sauron starts to exert his influence over Middle Earth during the time between The Hobbit and FOTR. That's in the appendices and establishes Aragorn's interest in the hobbits. Not to mention it would give Viggo some face time in the first series to tie him in with the rest of the retuning cast.

Also think about the culture of the intended audience. Tolkein writes in the vein of high literature. The art of his work is in his written prose. Jackson's art is in the experience of the movie theater. I'm not sure it is possible to convey the art of literature in a Regal Cinema though I think Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens have done a remarkable job of bring as much as possible that prose (or kind of prose in their original writing) to the screen. If the focus was ultimately to be on the art of Tolkein's words brought to a screen then it almost seems like this story would be better served a mini-series on Masterpiece Theater or the BBC. But that is a very different audience than what Jackson is trying to reach.

Jackson should be judged on his ability as film maker, to bring not just the story but the world that Tolkein created, to life in a medium that is embraced by the movie-going audience.

I think he nailed it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tolkiens 'Hobbit'? Jackson's 'Hobbit'? What is it precious? What's in for me?, May 12, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'll breakdown this in few parts: What this blu ray package has, the hullabaloo about extended editions and finally about the movie itself: Hope this helps answer any queries you might have about "Hobbit".

1. THE BLU RAY PACKAGE: Total 5 discs
The 3D Blu ray (movie in 3D is split across 2 discs)
Regular Blu ray (2D): 1 disc
Special features: 1 blu ray disc (Peter Jackson takes you to set (HD; 41 min), Production videos (HD), a brief overview of New-Zealand as middle earth, Trailers and Previews (about 12 min), Music video of song "I see fire", and other stuff.
Movie on DVD (1 disc)

2. THEATRICAL vs EXTENDED:
As with Lord of the Rings, each "Hobbit" will also come in extended editions (where the movie will contain additional footage, AND there will be a heap of extra features. The release dates of those are (previously released and forthcoming):
Hobbit 1 (An Unexpected Journey) Theatrical: April 2013
Hobbit 1 (An Unexpected Journey) Extended: November 2013
Hobbit 2 (Desolation of Smaug) Theatrical: April 2014 (THIS IS THE RECENT RELEASE FOR WHICH I AM WRITING THE REVIEW)
Hobbit 2 (Desolation of Smaug) Extended: November 2014
Hobbit 3: To be Announced. Most likely the theatrical blu ray will be released in April 2015! Not sure about extended release.

Should I buy this or wait till November 2014?
Well, if you love the movie and like to see more of it, and more importantly, if you love to see hours of behind the scenes, production details, etc, then wait till November 2014. If you are happy with this regular version of the movie and don't want too many behind the scenes, then go for this.

3. THE MOVIE
First thing first. The movie DOES NOT follow the book page-by-page. Jackson have made some radical changes in the story, and these differences are more prominent in Hobbit 2 (Desolation of the Smaug) than in Hobbit 1. I am sure you have got an fair idea of these, however, I read many reviews and the more it is criticized, the more confusing it can get to the reader. Here I have tried to summarize those. Hope this helps:
1. ORCS: This is the single biggest addition to the story, which alters from the book. Orcs don't exist in book, and hence, wherever they are in the movie, it is an addition/change. This itself will count a big change.
2. MIRKWOOD: This part has been cut short, whereas in the book it's more elaborate.
3. LEGOLAS & TAURIEL: They don't exist in book, so does everything they do in the movie.
4. DWARVES ENTRY INTO LAKE-TOWN: I won't spoil the details, but Bard doesn't play a role in this (as depicted in film).
5. DWARVES ENTRY INTO THE MOUNTAIN: Durin's day, Appearance of the door, etc is changed.
6. SMAUG'S FINAL ACTION SCENE: Doesn't exist in book.
7. NECROMANCER & RADAGAST: Have only a mention in book. (Re: Necromancer, the book DOES say in the end that Gandalf drove Necromancer away as an explanation of his absence. So, I feel this is not truly an addition. Simply an expansion)
There. That would be all of it. I am pretty sure fans of the book have much more to say (and there are many who have already assessed this well), but in my opinion, the above summary contains all those details (as sub-topics). Nevertheless, the books vs. movie disparities end here.

BOOK vs. MOVIE Summary:
Hobbit 2 takes multiple liberties from the actual story. However, all those changes do one thing in common: ADD ACTION. How this affects you? Well, If you already know the book, and you like the on-screen Hobbit to be same as book's, you might be disappointed.
However, if you watch the movie with a blank slate, then it is a THRILL RIDE. I for one watched the movie without getting into the book and I loved it. I didn't think anything was out of place. The story has a very consistent flow and it is fun to watch.
The book is a very simple, brilliantly written classic story, whereas the movie "Hobbit" is far grandeur. It's huge, and encompasses many things beyond what is in the book.

Prequel of LOTR?
Finally, as I assess, I feel Peter Jackson has presented "Hobbit" not just as a book adaptation, but it is more focused as a "prequel of LOTR". There are few reasons to conclude this way:
a) The RING: In the book, The Ring is merely a simple magical ring that makes folks invisible. However, the movie puts serious emphasis on it. The ring has been in focus, and there are scenes where it has a treacherous effect on Bilbo.
b) Galadriel, Saruman: There is a scene (Hobbit 1) where these sit together and discuss about Sauron being vanquished, etc. The book has no reference to Sauron (LOTR was written after Hobbit's success).
c) Orcs, Necromancer: They exist in movie as servants to the "Necromancer" (Depicted as Sauron, without his full strength). This probably is an attempt to show that Sauron (before LOTR happened), was trying to make a comeback. Orcs exist as Sauron's army. It all fits.
So, Hobbit, can be viewed as a trilogy on its own, but it could be best viewed as a marathon (Hobbit 1, 2, 3 followed by LOTR trilogy). However, this will hold true only after the final Hobbit movie is released.

I like to stay in the Middle earth created by Jackson, and I love the way he arranges the action scene (LOTR, King Kong, etc.). Some deem the action in "Hobbit 2" as video-gamish. For me, even if some sequences defy few basic rules of physics, it is thrilling to see them on-screen (The Barrel escape, Smaug's final act). Hence, I wholeheartedly recommend this. If for nothing else, at least for the magnificent "Smaug", one hell-of-a-kind, stupendous dragon ever made on sceen!
In short, if you like both book and film, then you have two versions of the same story to enjoy. Want simple and unadulterated fun? Read BOOK. Want spectacular visuals, thrilling action scenes and additional bonus material? Go for the MOVIE. I personally enjoy both rather than spending time in comparing them.
Thanks for reading!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Desolation of Jackson, July 16, 2014
By 
J. Ridgway "Ridge" (San Diego, California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This bloated, hyper version of The Hobbit, drawn out to ridiculous length by Hollywood's greedy desire to make one story into THREE movies, turns Tolkien's wonderful story into a Transformers video game for adolescents. Jackson shows his contempt for Tolkien's book, as well as for fans of "The Lord of the Rings," by larding out the story into 3 movies, seemingly just to make more money, because the writing quality of the fill-in material is so bad! (Didn't he earn enough from the "Rings" movies, so that he could actually make a good job of this one?) A perfect example of how Hollywood destroys a good story. A real hyper-frenetic mess of a movie, which is all the more infuriating because the original story was so good. They Hollywood-ized it.

At least in "Rings," Jackson stayed mostly with the book's story. "Rings" was a trilogy movie, because, well, the BOOK was a trilogy. The Hobbit is a single book of reasonable length, and at most, it could have supported 2 movies. To make 3 out of it means that the writers had to add in a lot of modern, trashy, fluffy, stupid, uninspired schlock WRITING that is NOT TOLKIEN. It's Spiderman 2, Transformers 5, Fast and Furious 6, Marvel Comics 7, with CGI Orcs. Frenetic video-game action for adolescents just took the place of Tolkien's clever and well-crafted tale.

Take the Elves. Legolas wasn't in Tolkien's Hobbit but he's in here, in spades. (Why? Because Orlando Bloom has a large adolescent fan club?) As is his babe companion female Elf (played by Evangeline Lilly). These 2 Elves are simply frenetic, unstoppable killing machines who defy the laws of physics. They kill giant spiders and Orcs with chilling, impossible, invulnerable robotic efficiency, over and over again until you just get worn out and disgusted. Then you realize that Jackson put all that "action" in there to fill out the movie. But it's way, way too long -- it's a 2 1/2 hour movie that should be maybe 1 hour 45 minutes. That's about 45 minutes of simple "action"; ridiculous, over-the-top, orc-killing, stupendous, stupidly directed, frenetic "action." You even start rooting for one of those poor Orcs to get SOME licks in there, against these impossibly invulnerable Elves.

[Warning -- Spoilers!!!]
One example of Jackson ruining the wonderful Tolkien story with his own schlock writers: in the original Hobbit, Bilbo frees the other dwarves from the spiders by putting on the ring and tricking the spiders, taunting them, drawing them away etc. But in this modern rehash they all fight the spiders to the death, and then in come the invulnerable Elf-Assassins to finish the job. Especially Evangeline Lilly's Elf, a bizarre combination of effortless, ferocious killing machine and sensitive beauty. Of course, not a Dwarf or an Elf gets a single spider scratch on them!

Another example: in the original Hobbit, the Dwarves escape from Smaug the dragon in the Lonely Mountain by hiding, and the awakened, enraged dragon then flies out to destroy the Lake-town. Here, we take a 20 minute detour while the Dwarves do all sorts of battling, frenetic, ridiculous video-game "action" fighting Smaug, even melting huge pots of gold to dump on him, of course hurting him not at all and of course, none of the Dwarves getting a scratch on them, before Smaug flies out to do in the town. By the time all this stupid, excessive "action" is done, you're exhausted, saying to yourself "get on with the story!", and then the story ends. You'll have to pay for a third movie. Ripoff.

They should've stuck by the story and stopped at 2 movies for the Hobbit. Jackson and his producers ruined a great story. Hollywood strikes again. A hack-job, and as someone else said, it shows the unraveling of the "Rings" film franchise. I can't see why any Tolkien fans would give it more than 2 stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, April 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Loved this movie from beginning to end, packed full of action, intrigue and adventure. All the early characters were brought forth superbly and the end made you crave more, well done.
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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack)
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