175 of 313 people found the following review helpful
The Floppit: The Desolation of Tolkien,
(All caps words are in place of italics, which sadly Amazon doesn't allow us to use.)
My review of The Hobbit in no particular order, with LOTS OF SPOILERS.
It's perhaps the same old story: you go into a theater with low expectations, and it's worse than you knew it would be. Far worse. This is 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' in a nutshell. But I'm not here to give you a nutshell. This was a terrible, horrible, awful, travesty of a … thing.
This wasn't The Hobbit; it wasn't about the Hobbit. Bilbo was literally in only a handful of scenes. He was a prop. He was an idiot. He was a numbskull. Bilbo, the hero of the story, reduced to a hanger-on, small rag-tag that dangles at Thorin's heel. Bilbo, the one with the brains and the luck, is reduced to just having dumb luck because everyone else is so abysmally stupid.
Balin says, “Hobbits never fail to surprise me.” Yeah, same here. Bilbo doesn't fail to surprise me with his stupid actions. Chief among these is his refusal to put the Ring on when it's necessary; this is, plain and simple, outrageous manipulation by PJ. Then. THEN. He takes the Ring off when he's talking to Smaug, and Smaug sees him. And doesn't kill him. Read that over again, slowly, and tell me exactly what the deal is with that. Please.
So, what is this movie about? Honestly, to tell you the truth, I have no idea. There are a big jumble of half-baked plot elements mixed together to make a tangled mess. There are orcs in every other scene; and I'll tell you that I get sick and tired of seeing these hideous morons all the time. So first we had Azog as the Big Bad Boss Monster, and now we ALSO have Bolg his son as another boss monster that no one can kill.
Can this get any more tiresome? The orcs are there so much that they aren't even exciting; they're just sort of … there, predictably, every time that PJ decides that there's too much of a lull in the movie. They are in Mirkwood. They are in Laketown. They are in Dol Guldur. They are right outside of Beorn's place. They spout cliché villain lines in stilted orc language that sounds like they're reading off of their script when they speak it.
Then there's Beorn. I just knew that, whatever they got wrong, they would do the Beorn scenes right. I was sure of it, right up until Beorn-in-bear-shape chased them to his own house. There are so many things wrong with this part of the movie. In the book, it was one of those really memorable, humorous places. We could relax as they wander through enormous fields buzzing with bees, and laugh as Gandalf concocts a plan to procure Beorn's help. The whole fun of that scene is Gandalf sitting down and telling Beorn the story, adding dwarves as he goes along.
Here, they race through the enormous fields without stopping for breath, are chased into Beorn's house by Beorn, and somehow keep this humongous bear out with his own door. He gets a grand total of one scene in human form; and somehow they just get him All. Wrong. Something very modern-Hollywood-angsty about him and his dead kindred.
Can we please, please, please just have ONE character who doesn't have a tragic past, who does something for a motive other than revenge and hatred? JUST ONE? Beorn is supposed to give them shelter because Gandalf told him a good story. Here, he makes it clear that he dislikes dwarves, and he's just helping them because he dislikes orcs more. All nuance of character and plot are gone, replaced by a quick scene so that we can get on to the important stuff. Namely, elves and (surprise, surprise!) orcs.
So let's talk about the elves. It's quite well known that even some of Tolkien's friends hated his elves. Well, I don't mind them in the books. In TLotR movies, it was pretty tiresome after a while how they were obviously PJ's favorite characters, and he was determined to show how hot and awesome and perfect the elves are. Well, all that pales in comparison to how horrible the elves are in this movie.
Thranduil is a deathly pale … kook. I guess that's the word to describe him. I don't think there's really any way that Legolas could have grown up at all decent with a father like that (also, what's up with Thranduil's cheek going all orc on us? I literally thought for a minute that he was Azog in disguise.). Then there's Tauriel. You've got to be joking. Not only do we get Legolas, as 'hot' and 'amazing' and video-gamish as ever, we also get his female counterpart. Or should I say his female copy. Because she's literally a She-Legolas. Neither of them can overtop the other.
She's just there to visually appeal to the fanboys in the crowd and to create an idiotic love triangle. Ahhh, the love triangle. She falls in love with Kili instantaneously, and there is a horrible five minute scene where she stands outside of Kili's prison door and he blabs to her and she blabs in purple prose to him.
Now let's go on to some specific parts. I was looking forward to the spiders in Mirkwood. Even though I was pretty sure it would be like a Shelob's Lair rip-off, I at least hoped for the best. Mirkwood itself, with it's gloom and creepiness and claustrophobia, was something I wanted to see visualized. I wanted to see despair when the forest seems to go on forever, even if the journey through the forest is mostly montaged.
Instead, they get captured by the spiders on the first or second day. Bilbo somehow is able to use his sword while his arms are bound at his sides by spider-web. Then he puts his ring on for a grand total of one minute, in which he does absolutely nothing. Then he takes it off again and obviously forgets about it.
Now, if I were Bilbo and I had a ring that could make me invisible at convenient times, I would definitely be using it quite often (as does Book!Bilbo). Not Movie!Bilbo. He's a dunce who backs up constantly in the face of danger instead of using his ring and his brains to get things done.
Then the elves come sliding down the spider's webs like firemen going to a fire, and they capture the dwarves. Bilbo frees the dwarves and puts them in barrels. WITHOUT LIDS ON THE BARRELS. He then just dumps them in the river, and of course the elves find out in about one minute and start chasing them along the side of the river. They close a gate and the dwarves are trapped, and the only thing that saves them is orcs.
Yep, you read that right. The orcs end up being the ones to free the dwarves, not Bilbo! Then there is a gratuitous, ridiculous, drawn-out battle IN THE WATER between the dwarves in barrels and the orcs.
Can you imagine how difficult it would be to be in huge barrels where the rim is about at arm-pit height, wielding those huge weapons while the water churns and swirls you around? It would be well-nigh impossible, but here they do it with relative ease. Somewhere in the middle of this, Kili (of course!) gets shot by an orc in the leg.
They escape the orcs for a while and meet up with Bard who smuggles them into Laketown. Where is Thorin's bedraggled but kingly entrance into Laketown? Nowhere to be seen. Instead we have random stupid 'backstory' for Bard, who ends up being like a hero to the people. Elections! Facepalm. This isn't about Bard. This isn't about the Master. It's supposed to be about a Hobbit, who in this movie just sort of goes along for the ride and doesn't do too much. Now Bard has three children and a dead wife. Yeah, nice way to round him out as a character. NOT. He's just supposed to be a guardsman. Not someone who the Master's secret police are watching all the time.
I guess now would be the time to mention the sets. First of all, the Elvenking's fortress is basically just Lothlorien 2, without the music. What's the deal with making the elves (both in The Hobbit and TLotR) creepy and dark? They're supposed to be beautiful and wise (for the most part) but here they're just nasty, scheming people who apparently spend the bulk of their time in beauty salons. And, as another reviewer noted, obviously no one in Middle Earth has invented handrails yet.
Then there's Laketown, which is supposed to be a bustling, prosperous city. Instead, we get a dark, crowded town where everyone is dirty and unattractive (talk about going from one extreme to another!) and downtrodden and oppressed and annoying. I despised Laketown. I despised the Master, and not because he was a mean-spirited guy but just because he and his disgusting little sneak were Too. Annoying. For words.
Oh, and lovely. We get to see the dwarves climbing out of a toilet. That just adds to the whole depressing atmosphere. That atmosphere that isn't supposed to be there.
I wanted to see them welcomed by the people; I wanted to see the Master pretending to believe them just to make the people happy; I wanted to see the people singing songs about the Mountain King's Return. Instead, the dwarves are in a huge rush because Durin's Day is about two days away, even though in the book they don't even know when Durin's Day is and they are able to get there in plenty of time. Also, all this fuss about Durin's Day and they don't even get it right. Because Durin's Day is when the sun and the last moon of autumn are in the sky TOGETHER. But Thorin and Co. are too stupid to realize this. It takes the hobbit to figure it out, and makes him look brainy in comparison to his fools-for-companions.
So, let's go on to Smaug the Dragon. I've gotta hand it to whoever animated him: he looks amazing, and the way he moves is really very good. He's lithe and snake-like and awe-inspiring. Awe-inspiring, that is, until we realize that he's nothing more than an overgrown lizard who only spouts flame when it doesn't do any good.
I love how Bilbo takes about fifteen minutes before he actually puts on the Ring, and then he takes it off after a minute and lets Smaug see him. Smaug sees him and carries on a lengthy conversation with him that lacks all the charm and wit of the book scene. Instead, we get Bilbo sliding around trying to get the Arkenstone, saying things (a few lines from the book) to distract Smaug and buy time.
And then. THEN. Comes one of the greatest travesties of the movie. Thorin and Co. come down to find out if Bilbo is OK, and end up in one of the most ridiculous chase scenes ever filmed. Here's this massive (when I say massive, I MEAN massive) dragon that can fly and spout flames at will. And yet he spouts flame that, even when they hit the dwarves, don't do any damage, and he crawls around threateningly and chases them through the halls. Then he conveniently lights the forgefires for the dwarves. Then, after being covered in molten gold, he roars off to take revenge on Laketown. Bilbo is an idiot yet again and tries to confront Smaug and dissuade him from doing that, and Smaug is an idiot yet again and doesn't kill Bilbo.
On another note, after I saw 'An Unexpected Journey', I said that Gandalf would be a total idiot to send the dwarves and hobbit through Mirkwood alone, knowing what he knows about it now. Yet he allows Galadriel to boss him around (What? She's just an elf, he's one of the Maiar!) and he goes off to Dol Guldur where he does some magic and fights (surprise, surprise!) orcs and even gets into a tussle with Sauron. He also meets birdy-doo-doo-haired Radagast again and tells him to take Galadriel a message even though he and Galadriel can communicate telepathically. The result? He's locked up in a cage by Sauron. Good going Galadriel!
Oh yes. Back to Tauriel, our intrepid heroine. She defies Thranduil, and Legolas goes with her, to 'Save Kili!' They get into Laketown right about the time that Bard is imprisoned and Bard's children are about to be massacred by the orcs. How convenient. They do a lot of fighting, Tauriel heals Kili, and Kili deliriously tells her that he loves her. Wow. How touching. How moving. How utterly BORING.
Legolas rides off after Boss Monster the Second because Boss Monster the Second made Legolas' nose bleed. For the first time ever, Legolas actually gets hurt. After being in a huge fight, in which he was nearly crushed to death, all that happens is that his pretty little nose bleeds? While not a hair is out of place? Not a smear to be seen in his makeup? Right. On we go then. I'm trying (trying!) to be comprehensive here. Bear with me.
The dialogue in this movie (as in 'An Unexpected Journey') was abysmal. Not one of the characters can speak without being either portentous and epic, or syrupy and 'poetic'. They use all the same old tired things that we've heard a hundred thousand fantasy characters say a hundred thousand times.
The costumes. For the dwarves, we get massive and bulky. How in the world do they travel all those miles clad in those ridiculous furs and armor and boots? The elves are just … elves, I guess. Elvish clothing and all that. Everyone in Laketown wears dirty, ragged clothing (even the Master), yet somehow Bard's daughter is completely fresh-faced and blemish-free, as if she has the time and money to do her makeup every morning. Radagast: disgusting as usual.
The music was overwhelming in its epicness. Tired in its repeats of LotR themes.
The dwarves don't work at all in this movie. In the book, they work because we don't have to get to know each of them individually. We see them through Bilbo's eyes. Though he is hired by them, they are secondary characters while Bilbo is the main character. Here, we are overwhelmed by thirteen ugly, crude, stupid characters. There are way too many of them to get to know each of them, and I don't care to really know them anyways. Bilbo is the secondary character here, mostly used as accidental deus-ex-machina.
And in conclusion, I know that this is just a movie. That it's not the end of the world. That it doesn't really have any significance, positive or negative, to anyone's existence. But yet, perhaps it does. Because The Hobbit is one of those few childrens' books that is a true classic: well written, engaging, with a lot of subtle humor, smart dialogue, and a solid plot. It's one of those books that's actually worth something. Taking a book like that, and turning it into a movie like this, is evidence of pure greed and stupidity. A childrens' book that an adult can enjoy, made into a movie that only those who like quantity over quality will like and that probably no one will ever watch a second time, is highly insulting. Perhaps it shows how pathetic most of the viewing public is, that this movie has an average of 4 stars instead of 1 star.
Also, please don't insult me by saying that the added stuff in this movie is taken from the appendices, and that if I was familiar with the appendices I would know that THIS STUFF REALLY HAPPENED. Uh, no. No it's not. Tauriel isn't in there. Azog might be in there, but not chasing the dwarves around. Why? Because he's DEAD. That's why. Killed by Dain of the Iron Hills. Everything is mixed up and twisted and changed until it's completely unrecognizable.
I'm sorry, J. R. R. Tolkien. I'm so sorry.
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Showing 1-10 of 86 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 16, 2013 5:54:31 AM PST
Great review. I'm a huge LOTR fan, love the books, love the movies, love everything about them. But this movie was just terrible.
Posted on Dec 16, 2013 6:18:06 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 16, 2013 6:18:47 AM PST]
Posted on Dec 16, 2013 6:19:00 AM PST
Oh, how right you are! As a Tolkien adaptation this movie really sucks. But then, I didn't expect anything else from a director who made Frodo send Sam away in Mordor.
It works as shallow entertainment for those who love fighting and killing sequences and all that over the top action stuff. And I do like some of the visuals (though not all of them) enough to watch it again. I loved the bee in Beorn's house that flew directly at me and hovered in front of my nose (although I swatted at it the first time).
Why does it always rain in Bree? Why do all the places that were friendly and supportive in the books have to feel slightly uncomfortable? Why are the orcs so huge? It's PJ not trusting Tolkien. A truly great director would find ways to tell the story as it was meant to be without changing everything to up the ante.
Posted on Dec 17, 2013 4:13:36 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Dec 17, 2013 4:25:45 AM PST]
Posted on Dec 17, 2013 7:53:26 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Dec 18, 2013 12:46:54 AM PST]
Posted on Dec 18, 2013 1:41:56 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 14, 2014 5:31:43 PM PST
Kelly McGahan says:
Come on man?! If you want Tolkien read the book!. If you want to watch a great movie by a master film maker go see The Desolation of Smaug!
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2013 4:02:24 PM PST
Laura Andrews says:
@Kelly: Were I to even waste time in refuting your ridiculous claim, I'd start with the part about PJ being a master film maker. As it is, I'll just say that it's nice to know that there are some people who have absolutely no taste in movies, and are willing to use crude language and bad grammar and spelling to insult those who don't agree with them.
Posted on Dec 19, 2013 7:48:21 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 19, 2013 7:49:18 PM PST
Christopher Schwinger says:
Your review is really correct. I am quite disappointed that Peter Jackson completely botched the Hobbit movies when the Lord of the Rings trilogy had been much classier. Another reviewer compared 'em to the excesses of Wagner's operas. I found myself laughing inside at the absurdly stilted dialogue, where they always talk in hushed or defiant tones with poetic seriousness, while the coolness of Smaug was destroyed by the ridiculous lack of realism in the fight. It doesn't belong as a 9-hour movie. It should have been one 3-hour movie, but they wanted to make lots more money, and so they spun the story in the most ridiculous and unmeaningful ways. Probably the most credit for anything good in the films should go to John Howe and Alan Lee, the conceptual designers. The scenes are usually great in Peter Jackson movies, but everything else turns into a mess. And remember those touches of extreme drama like Bilbo saying "I discovered something" and then the dramatic music, and then Gandalf asking "What did you discover?" "My courage!" UGH!
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 23, 2013 12:27:28 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Dec 23, 2013 10:08:30 PM PST]
Posted on Dec 23, 2013 10:14:39 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 23, 2013 10:20:51 PM PST
Wayne Klein says:
While certainly flawed, this is Jackson's version of the story. It's an adaptation using Tolkien's novel as a template. While I enjoyed Tolkien's novel when it I read it 30 odd years ago, I never expected a film that was perfectly faithful to the novel in every way.
Being faithful to the novel doesn't guarantee it's going to be good. A perfect example of how this can produce a horrible film is "Ender's Game" which largely got the plot right just reducing the scale and time frame for the film.
Do all the changes make sense? No. The changes often were for dramatic impact--what works on the printed page very often doesn't work on the screen for a variety of reasons. Somtimes those changes work, sometimes they don't.
To suggest, however, that those who enjoyed the film have a lack of taste is quite silly really. Different things appeal to different people and there are plenty of fans of the novel that enjoy the films for what they are which is Jackson's vision of "The Hobbit" (or in this case Jackson's along with Guillermo del Toro's since del Toro was part of the creative process for the film even though he didn't direct it).
I personally found it interesting to contrast the film version to the novel and thinking about WHY Jackson made the changes he did, whether or not it worked, etc. It provided a different perspective on the story. I enjoyed it even if it wasn't Tolkien's "The Hobbit" but closer to a film inspired by his work.
Personally, I think that del Toro would have done a better job directing this film than Jackson who often repeats the same mistakes that marred his version of the Lord of the Rings but, taken for what it is, "TH:TDOS" improves over the overly long, bloated first film. The second film features too much filler but, on the whole, works better than the first.
Tolkien's novel is still there. Jackson didn't change that nor has he spoiled it in making his version of the novel. I think the larger question is WHY you would waste your time going to see a movie that you had low expectations for --especially given that you disliked the first film as well.