Where’s the precious?
Picking up right where the last one left off, we see the Dwarves, Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) still on the run from the orcs that are pursuing them. Halfway through their journey however, Gandalf decides to break off from the rest of the group, fearing that this rumored Necromancer will take over the whole land, and infect it with its pure venomous evil. As he’s gone off to do his own thing, this leaves Bilbo with the rest of the pack to venture off to the Lonely Mountain where they meet plenty of fun, exuberant, and yet, sometimes dangerous characters along the way. However, standing at the end of their journey is none other than the vicious dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), who is the sole foe standing between them and retaking the mountain. So it only makes sense that Bilbo have to go up there and settle the peace, right?
Despite all of the problems people had with the first movie and the whole 48 fps ordeal, the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey wasn’t all that bad. It was definitely a drawn-out movie that felt a bit unnecessary, especially considering that there was supposed to be two more movies for this said 100-page story. However, for what it was and for what it was worth, it was fun when it wanted to be and best of all, brought me back to the good old days of when I used to rollick to the movie theaters, just to place myself back in Middle Earth, even if that meant wasting half of my day doing so. So it sort of had a little bit of a nostalgic thing going on for me, which is why it didn’t kill my insides as much as it may have done to others.
All that aside though, now that we’ve got the first movie out of the way, which also means that all of the awkward plotting and setting-up of the story is with it, we finally have a sequel that should hopefully do what most sequels do: Tell the story, give us new characters, while still building ones that the homefronts have already been built for, but also, not forget about giving us the goods that usually make people happy with the movie in the first place. We get plenty of story and plenty of new characters, but what about the goods? The movie doesn’t totally shy away from giving us all of the fun, exciting and energetic bits of fantasy action and adventure we’re so used to having with these movies, but it also still feels like there’s something else missing here that was missing from the last movie, but was totally there, front-and-center with the original trilogy, and that’s an actual amount of tension and terror to be had.
Throughout the whole movie, I couldn’t help but feel like the wheels were spinning for this movie once again, but this time, without much surprise added to the mix. We get most of the same characters, doing the same things, for the same reasons and no sense that any second, these characters could be taken away from us at any moment. Now, that’s not saying that I’m some rabid animal who wants people to be dead at the drop of a hat, but there’s also nothing here that really felt like it got me over that hurdle to where I really felt like this was a story I could get involved with. Instead it just felt like a story I could watch as it played-out, but without any of the heart or emotion devoted to these characters or the actual proceedings themselves. You could practically say the same thing about the first movie, but I think that’s a tad different because we’re sort of used to that with first movies in a planned-trilogies. It’s sort of like learning how to ride a back and all for the first time after all of these years, in that you don’t actually need the training-wheels to assist you, but you may need a buddy or two to stand behind you just in case you go plummeting down.
Them, or a firm and trusty helmet. But you should have had that on already!
Anyway, back to what I was saying, basically, this movie didn’t really offer me anything new I didn’t already see with the first flick, with the exception of maybe a few new sights to see, characters and set-pieces. Fun set-pieces nonetheless like, for instance, the sequence in which we follow the dwarves as they are in a bunch of barrels, flowing down the river stream away from the orcs, but at the same time, also battling them in any which way they can, with some assistance from the elves as well, but still nothing really new or inventive to where I felt like Jackson really got back into his old school, Lord of the Rings mode. Nope, this is the Hobbit’s trilogy, or better yet, Bilbo’s, and his is a whole new breed of storytelling, if you will.
Even if that is the case though, and this is all about Bilbo Baggins, his adventure, his story and his splendid life and times with “THE RING!!!!!”, it’s sort of strange considering how only gets about fifteen or so minutes to where it’s just him and nobody else. But even stranger is the fact that it’s practically at the rear-end of this whole flick, and it’s easily the best part. Of course he had some help from his fellow Sherlock star (that bastard) but it’s still the most tense, most exciting and only time where I really felt like all of these different threads of story-lines were coming together, even though the part itself focused on one, which just so happened to be the main story we’re supposed to care about in the first place. Though Freeman’s great too, as he usually is, he still barely gets enough time in front of the screen to substantiate the fact that he is indeed who this story is all about, and he is the one we’re supposed to be rooting for and thrusting all of our emotions into. However, you just never feel that because Jackson’s got a hundred-million-bajillion other story-lines going on, none of which really seem to catch any real fire.
Same thing that I’m saying about Bilbo’s treatment, goes the same for Gandolf’s as well, which is an absolute sin since we know that Ian McKellen’s portrayal is absolutely the heart and soul that keeps these movies moving. Instead, we get introduced to a new characters like Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel, Luke Evans’ human character with the least human name, Bard, Lee Pace playing Legolas’ daddy-o, Thranduil, and the always pleasant and charming Stephen Fry, who shows up as the corrupt and lazy Master of the Laketown in which the dwarves and Bilbo find themselves hanging around in for some time. They all do fine and bring enough to the story to where I could see them having bigger roles in the next film and being fine additions. Yet, I also see myself not really caring too much, either. Once they took Viggo away from me and replaced him with some dude named “Richard Armitage”, then I knew I’d just never be the same.
With all of that said, and I now I’ve said and awful lot to really beat and batter down this movie, it’s still somehow a hair better than the first, if only because it now actually feels like we’re getting somewhere with this story and where it’s supposed to take us. Sure, there are some mishaps here and there that definitely got in the way of what could have been a very compelling and well-told story, had there been more focus placed on Bilbo and his fellow band of dwarves, but with the way they end it, it’s hard not to get a bit jacked-up for what’s next to come. The ending is very abrupt and along with what the consensus seems to be with Catching Fire’s, most likely people will be up in arms and upset; but to me, it feels like we’re actually getting somewhere with this trilogy that should have never been. However, if Peter Jackson wants to indulge himself a bit, then hey, I won’t stop him. Not like he’d listen to a two-bit, movie blogger from Delco anyway, but still. It’s the idea of power that counts.
Consensus: Just a tad bit better than the first, yet, still feels like there’s plenty room of improvement to be made with Desolation of Smaug with the cutting-down of its run-time, exposition and endless list of characters that don’t really seem to mean much, except that they’re just big names filling in the roles, and who doesn’t love that?!?!
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!
Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, Collider, Joblo, ComingSoon.net
Nice review 🙂 I am going for this today or tomorrow; & I feel that I will like it somewhat more 🙂
I think so too!
Nice review mate. Really looking forward to this. Glad to hear it’s an improvement over the first, which I enjoyed but had definite issues with.
It’s a slight improvement, but improvement nonetheless.
I can’t help but look forward to a LOTR film, as I do like a good ‘epic’, although the first Hobbit was a bit long winded wasn’t it. What was with all the dwarf singing and faffing at the beginning!
I have no clue! It’s just Peter Jackson just indulging himself a bit too much.
Just a bit! The scene in Bilbos house went on for what seemed like days!
I read that Viggo was offered a role in The Hobbit but declined because Aragorn isn’t in the novel. I guess you had a similar problem with this one as I did with the first, where is the sense of danger? Yes, it’s fun, but there is no danger.
There’s no sense that anybody could get killed off at any moment, which is a must for anybody who hasn’t read the book and watches this.
Nice review. Glad to hear it’s an improvement, going to see it tonight. 🙂
Hope you enjoy yo self!
Cracking review Dan. I’m looking forward to seeing it ASAP. I wasn’t a big fan of the first film as I felt the story was far too thin and stretched. I still think 3 films is 2 too many but I will be happy to be proved wrong on that. I just hope there is something to care about in ‘Hobbit2’, something that was definitely missing from the 2hrs and 45mins of the first film. All the best.P
Three stories is way too much for such a short story like this. However, don’t tell that to either Peter Jackson or Hollywood. They got money that they want to make, baby! And they don’t give a shit what you think!
Going to see this for my birthday and I am beyond excited. One question: how good is the bit with the Mirkwood spiders, because that was my favorite chapter in the book?
They were pretty cool and one of the fun sequences I talked about the film having.
Going to see this films soon. Was actually considering not going to watch it, bus as you’ve said it is an improvement I will trust your judgement!
It’s a slight improvement, but still one nonetheless. Just don’t expect greatness, that’s all!
Nice. Very much looking forward to seeing this this weekend. Luckily the LotR films have always come out right around my birthday :).
And that’s always a treat, right?
Of course! I’m a lucky man.
Good review bro. Hoping to check it out next week.
I’m seeing this on Sunday. I’m pretty sure i’m going to love it :]
If you liked the other one, you’re going to fully appreciate this one.
Great review, Dan! Just got back in from seeing it. I definitely agree that Jackson has yet to recapture the magic of Lord of the Rings, but I think The Hobbit is a different beast, with completely different tone. I do like Armitage but you got the nail on the head with Vigo haha! I do miss him so.
I miss the guy, too! I heard he denied showing up in this because Aragorn wasn’t originally in the books, but come on!
All good points to digest for when I catch this tomorrow. Really wasn’t blown away by the first film so hoping this will be a noticeable improvement. Good work Dan.
Thanks man! Hope you enjoy this one for what it is, which may not be saying all that much to begin with.
Great review, I had a brilliant time watching this film 😀
Its still a bit too long but if I had to stay in any imaginary world middle earth isn’t too bad ;D
Smaug stole the show and I am glad he did, great visuals and just an all over better film than the first hobbit, hope the trend continues into part 3 😀
[…] For a superb review of same that I simply cannot hope to emulate despite best efforts, check out Dan the Man’s Movie Reviews. And for a review equal in general brilliance and one I happen to concur wholeheartedly with, read […]
Nice review, Dan. The movie certainly has its padding that could’ve been trimmed down on, but it was still an enjoyable watch, and a vast improvement on the first. 🙂
Peter Jackson is more concerned with making a LOTR prequel and not with honoring the simplicity of The Hobbit. This should’ve been 1 movie not 3 movies lasting 8 hours.
Careful, Armitage has quite a fan base! Ive heard a lot of mixed impressions about this so I think I need to see it for myself. Great review!
You’ve got me worried. Will see over Christmas. Loved the first one in theaters then saw it on HBO and thought, hmmmm, kinda slow.
I agree that the ending is abrupt, but I didn’t think that this movie was better than the first. I really enjoyed the first Hobbit film and felt like it was a non-stop ride which left me wanting more by the end. I was happy for the second one to be over because I had gotten pretty bored.
Two main annoyances. First, Jackson is trying way too hard to tie these movies in with his LotR trilogy and it definitely shows. I wish he wouldn’t try to force fit these so much into that mold. Second, it’s obvious to me even though I haven’t read the book, that this movie is padded with all kinds of extra stuff that wasn’t originally part of the story, including Legolas and Tauriel. I didn’t think Lilly’s character added much to the tale other than her weird love triangle, but you could have easily subtracted her with little to no loss.
Those complaints aside, I also enjoyed the barrel scene like you and I LOVED how Jackson’s team rendered Smaug. Never have I seen such a creepy and realistic looking dragon on screen. His whole meeting with Bilbo and conversation with him made my skin crawl. I’m hoping the third movie in this series is better, because I was feeling pretty “meh” about this one.
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