2013, Movies

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013, Peter Jackson)

Is this a better film than the first one? Maybe it is. I certainly think the various set pieces are more elaborate than the first movie, which makes sense given the usual upping of the stakes that takes place in trilogies these days.

But, like the first film, every is stretched out interminably. A couple of these scenes could function as climactic set pieces in their own films. I guess some people think that’s a virtue but I can’t say that I do, here anyway.

The big issues of this kind of fantasy are alive and well in this film and in this trilogy. There is a pretty clear line between good and evil – though, as usual there are characters who need to be encouraged to be good – and very little ambiguity. (To say there is any moral ambiguity in Tolkien feels charitable.) One of the reasons I find these films dull is because I don’t find these Good vs. Evil stories remotely compelling. And that’s the big pull. It’s certainly not the characters as it’s only really the hobbits themselves who have real character development.

And much like the first film, at the end of the day, this feels like a super gigantic cliff-hanger TV episode because I have to watch the finale to find out what happens. (Though I’ve seen the animated Hobbit way back when.) And that’s frustrating for a film, you know?


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