Movies Review

The Hobbit Movies – Thank God THAT’S Over

I was never your biggest Tolkien fan – I had read the Lord of the Rings once as a kid, but the movies got me back in.  There seemed to be a genuine desire to stay true to the source material, and most of the changes made you could at least make a case for it being better for a movie.  No one scratched their head more than me when it was announced that The Hobbit would be adapted as two movies – it’s shorter than any of the LOTR books, even if you add in some stuff out of the various appendices it’s still not that big.  Then three movies?  Why?  Sadly, having seen all three movies now, ‘why?’ is what keeps coming to mind.

In adding in all the stuff with the ‘Necromancer’, the movie series takes the focus off your title character, Bilbo.  Several times things seem to be humming along only for there to be an oddly placed scene all in gray with Gandalf, Saruman and Galadriel.  I love these characters, I love these actors, but it’s all a distraction.  I hate that Peter Jackson tried to make a companion trilogy to act as a prequel to the LOTR movies, and this story suffered for it.  We miss out on more Beorn for a bunch of orc battles?  Bilbo was unconscious for most of that in the book!  Dune’s sandworms pop in for a visit, why?  Because of one throwaway line in the book somewhere?

What kills me is the good story bits ARE there.  Jackson overdoes them a bit, but that’s no different from LOTR.  The actors are all top-notch, and the movies remain at least mostly watchable on their backs alone.  I’m certain that, after The Battle of the Five Armies hits Blu-Ray, some enterprising fan editor will re-cut the movies into one coherent Hobbit story.  It will run at most, 2.5 hours, and it will tell the story from the actual book The Hobbit just fine.

Movies Review

Movie Review – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Many people were nervous when Peter Jackson wanted to make two movies out of The Hobbit, and it only deepened when three were discussed.  The first movie was pretty divisive – Tolkien purists disliked the changes, and the added parts with the council and the Necromancer bothered some folks.  Others felt that if they got the ‘Riddles in the Dark’ part right, much could be forgiven.  Well, there’s plenty more for the purists to grind their teeth over, but in the end, The Desolation of Smaug has a lot going for it.

Things that work for me:

  • The elves.  Tauriel is gorgeous and tough.  The surprising flirtation (no spoilers) actually works.  As for Legolas, maybe it’s different makeup, or Orlando Bloom being that much older, but he seems a bit tougher himself.  And Lee Pace as Thranduil has me dying to see him as Ronan the Accuser.  Just great.
  • Smaug.  His look is definitely based on some of the illustrations out there, and the Cumberbatch voice works as you’d expect.
  • Bilbo.  As usual, Martin Freeman’s mannerisms are perfect, though he’s still a bit too good with Sting and fighting in general.  (Annalee Newitz has an interesting take on that at io9)  And yes, you do see how the weapon gets named.
  • Bard.  Despite the changes to him as far as his role in Laketown, I think Luke Evans makes an excellent Bard, who will be able to play off well against Thorin and Thranduil in the future.

Things that bothered me:

  • Thorin.  He’s a bit too friendly.  I realize there may be a marketing reason to make him more likable, but it’s going to make the third movie turns for the character harder to swallow.
  • The Necromancer.  Look, I love Gandalf to pieces, and I liked Sylvester McCoy’s Radagast, but every time the movie cuts away to this plot, it feels like a delay.  We’re here for Bilbo, right?  It’s in the title.
  • The Action.  While some of the fights had some interesting shots or ‘ooooooh’ moments, they all overstayed their welcome.  I’m still scratching my head at the final set piece.

Did I enjoy The Desolation of Smaug?  Yep.  It’s a shade better than the first one, but still has the same problems to varying degrees.  Your ability to look past those problems for an enjoyable time should be the decider on whether or not you check this out.  It was worth it to see for me.  I really like Martin Freeman, and I’m curious to see how they handle the Battle of the Five Armies in the next movie.

Featured Review

Movies With Repeated Theater Viewings

The title says it all – I thought I’d start a discussion about what movies you just HAD to see more than once in the theaters.  Where possible, I will be putting how many times I saw it and any other details I think of.

  • Despicable Me – (2) – Once was at the drive-in for a triple feature.
  • The Incredible Hulk – (2) – Another involving the drive-in
  • Iron Man 2 – (2) – Just love Iron Man.
  • Iron Man– (3) – Once at the el-cheapo theater for a couple of bucks.
  • Ponyo – (2) – Such beautiful animation, just had to check it out on the big screen again at a matinee.
  • The Lord of the Rings – (3, 2, 2) – That’s for each movie, of course.
  • Transformers – (2) – Screw you, I enjoyed it for what it was, definitely a big screen movie.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull  – (2) – Another feature at the drive-in.

If I remember more, I’ll add them in later, but that’s a start.  Really, I like to see the blockbuster/action type movies on the big screen more than once if I can, since some of that doesn’t translate well to the small screen.  What do YOU have?