The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug – My Take

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.

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10 Comments

Comment by rg
2013-12-17 21:19:01

sorry to bother u
New obama theme song
You tube
Mac Davis – Its hard to be Humble -

no comment needed

 
Comment by gitarcarver
2013-12-17 21:25:14

Well, you knew something like this had to happen as the first part of this “trilogy” took some liberties as well.

I could never understand how Jackson could take a single book and make three movies out of it when the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was three books and three movies. Something had to be really stretched or added.

I haven’t seen it but I suspect that I will agree with your dislike of the liberties taken.

I think you are correct that people who have not read the book will like the movie.

As a side note, I have a friend with a 10 year old daughter who fell in love with the Hobbit / LOTR series on video. She was reading below grade level and the movies have her excited to read the books. She has worked really hard to bring her reading up to grade level this year, all because she wants to read the Hobbit / LOTRs in their entirety.

Her mom hates the whole series (book and movies) so I am encouraging her to keep going. We talk about the movies and characters all the time. I hope she won’t be disappointed when she reads the books and compares them to the movies, but the movies are driving her to read, and I’ll take that.

Sorry you didn’t like the film but I completely understand why.

I promise that next year I won’t send you the DVD for Christmas. ;)

 
Comment by Trish Mac Subscribed to comments via email
2013-12-18 08:03:02

Wow Teach, way to ruin my expectations! But I agree, the first one was good- took a ton of liberties and added crazy stuff to it- but good. The fact that they managed to take the shortest of Tolkein’s hobbit books, and make it into a trilogy should be the first clue.
I don’t know now if I’ll wait for it to come out on DVD or go. Like you, there is rarely anything worth going to a theater to see these days. Will have ot weigh that one.
Git- I love that it’s gotten a child to read-good for you and for her! I believe I will purchase the Hobbit for my 8 year grandson too!

 
Comment by bob sykes
2013-12-18 08:23:22

Tolkien’s LOTR and the Hobbit are subtle Catholic allegories. It is doubtful that a secular progressive like Jackson would recognize this, and it is certain that he would suppress any Christian reference he might spot.

Tolkien’s methods are much more effective than Lewis’ sledge hammers, but he is a better writer overall.

 
Comment by bob sykes
2013-12-18 08:23:54

Tolkien’s LOTR and the Hobbit are subtle Catholic allegories. It is doubtful that a secular progressive like Jackson would recognize this, and it is certain that he would suppress any Christian reference he might spot.

Tolkien’s methods are much more effective than Lewis’ sledge hammers, and Tolkien is a better writer overall.

 
Comment by William Teach
2013-12-18 09:58:47

It brightens my heart to hear that she’s reading, GC. That’s always great. You know what a huge reader I am. Keep encouraging her. The Hobbit should be a little more reachable, was meant more for kids, TLOTR is definitely a tougher read. I wish her the best.

If you haven’t read the book in a long time, Trish, go see it. If I forget about having read the book, and I read it last year (again), then I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars, and say worth an afternoon matinee. I saw it in 2D, I wouldn’t bother with 3D.

 
Comment by Trish Mac Subscribed to comments via email
2013-12-18 10:04:50

Thanks Teach- I believe I will! I re-read the Hobbit back when I re-read the LOTR trilogy- in advance of those movies! So it’s been a little while.

 
Comment by More_Snowy_Gumballs Subscribed to comments via email
2013-12-18 15:41:11

<blockquote> 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.

I wish he would have stayed with 2 movies with the Hobbitt. But yeah, the excessive liberties with characters is a bit of a downer.

And I agree with Terminator Salvation. Had great possibility, but killed it. You hear they are doing a remake of #1 ?

 
Comment by William Teach
2013-12-19 10:57:24

Yeah, Salvation killed the series. It was supposed to set it up for a final movie where humanity won. But, it was horrible and made little sense. If Skynet launched a massive nuclear attack, how could humans survive in LA and SF? Etc, and so on.

As for a remake, I wonder how they’ll ruin it? Surely CGI and 3D will be involved.

 
Comment by More_Snowy_Gumballs Subscribed to comments via email
2013-12-19 11:12:31

Well, am sure that the robot overlords used small yield nukes when they attacked the cities. Remember, they need them for their body-power. oh, that was the matrix.

I thought it was funny that in the beginning of the movie, the kid tells the new fleshy terminator dude that he shouldn’t play the radio because the robots will hear. Sure enough, a robot heard and came after them in their jeep.

But, John Conner could actually broadcast his radio signals all the time without issue. His military broadcasted plans and communication from bases and even the submarine.

Does this mean now that john conner is part machine? Having a terminator’s “heart”? or, did that movie rewrite history to have now created an Bio-Droid? part human-part terminator?

and, what’s up with the “chicken-egg” aspect of it all? Skynet was already running attacking systems, but it wasn’t running until they felt they had no choice but to “secure” their network? And, ….. Skynet only got access to machines because a future terminator placed control bots in to the present day robots allowing present Skynet to control them…. which then spread the infection worldwide in a matter of seconds?!?!?!? eh?

 

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