It’s been quite a bit of time since I went to the movies. There has been little out recently which I’ve been interested in seeing in the theaters. Despite the big, and sometimes substantive, changes made to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, as well as what Peter Jackson and company did to the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, I enjoyed the movies. I’ve watched the first Hobbit movie many, many times. Even with the changes, the substance was still there. The main “flavor”, if you will. Excellent. Same with TLOTR.
So, like many, I was excited for the Desolation of Smaug. And I haven’t been this disappointed in a movie since Terminator: Salvation, which I almost walked out on several times. I have never rented the movie, I sure didn’t purchase it, and I do not watch it when it’s on TV. That’s how I felt about TDOS. I suppose I’m in the vast minority of viewers. It’s trending pretty well on Rotten Tomatoes, both for critics and viewers. It was good visually, but not as majestic as the first. It was mostly dreary, which is kinda the scenery in the book. They missed some serious chances with the forest scenes and Lonely Mountain scenes. The acting was excellent, though. That said, I supposed I might have enjoyed it if I had never read the book. It was “based on a book written by J.R.R. Tolkien”, in the sense that someone read the book, created a Cliff Notes version, translated it into ancient Sumerian, described it to their drunk “black sheep of the family” uncle, who translated it back to English, then created an interpretive dance play, which was describe to the cousins of the screen-writers of Desolation who were on caffeine and donuts highs.
We’re not talking “taking liberties” in order to create some extra drama and stuff, folks, we’re talking about people who willfully changed the movie so there’s very little in common with the book besides names and locations. This is possibly one of the worst book-to-film adaptation of all time. It’s right up there with Sleepy Hollow (the only thing in common with the book were the names of the main characters and the location), Logan’s Run, Dune, Eragon, Starship Troopers and The Scarlet Letter, among others, as the worst adaptations.
Slight spoilers below the fold
First, this whole “Gandalf setting things in motion” garbage is, well, garbage. Second, the really dropped a big one by not covering the crossing of the river. Beorn is barely a side-show, a quick pit stop. Then we get to Mirkwood.
You would have expected that to be big, right? It’s a big part of the book. Especially for Bilbo’s development. Not so in the movie. It was pretty quick, and combined the spiders with the elves. Instead of Bilbo rescuing the dwarves in total, then the dwarves being fooled off the road and captured by the elves (which would have made a great scene, IMO), the elves beat the spiders (after Bilbo cut the dwarves down), then took the dwarves prisoner. What was a big part of the middle of the book is mostly blown off.
Bilbo barely uses the ring, though it was an integral part of escaping the hall of the Elven king. I didn’t mind the female elf character so much, nor how they escaped down the river. But even that was short. And had only a passing resemblance to what Tolkien write.
The time in Dale was silly. And unnecessary. It was overly long. There was a quick boat trip to sorta near the Lonely Mountain, when they had traveled on horses in the book (this was important in the book). Characters were left behind in Dale. Orcs in Dale. Weird drama in Dale. Too much movie time spent in Dale.
As for the Desolation of Smaug, would have been nice to actually see it. Because it was barely portrayed. One would have thought visuals of the Lonely Mountain in all its, you know, deso-frigging-lation, as in “devastation”, “dreariness”, “barrenness”, “ruin”, would have been an integral part of the movie. Nope. And I don’t think the filmmakers understood the reason why it was called “The Lonely Mountain”.
And don’t get me started on what happened once the door into the Mountain was finally opened. While Smaug looked great, this was a complete load of elephant fritters, beyond ridiculous. It blew off the MAIN FRICKING REASON Bilbo was brought along, and how he interacted with Smaug. And why Smaug went bat-guano crazy and attacked Dale. And there the movie stopped.
So, I won’t watch it again. Not on DVD, not on TV. I will probably see the final one next December, hopefully it isn’t destroyed like Desolation. I’m not saying do not go see it. You may love it. Me, nope. It was dark, overly dreary, and had little resemblance to the book. And, really, what comes in the 3rd movie will be even more dreary, if it tracks anything close to the book.