Smaug is an amazing dragon. Martin Freeman is an engaging hobbit. But three different movies? From one little book?
If you’ve seen all three films and read the book, you’ve probably spent more time watching the story unfold than you spent reading “The Hobbit”. And that just seems wrong.
The opening scenes pick up about 20 minutes before “Desolation of Smaug” ends. There are a bunch of new perspectives on that dramatic conclusion and – given the whopping and bottom-numbing 144-minute length of this – careful cutting could have been considered.
But it is what it is.
Dwarves, elves, orcs, wizards, humans and hobbits are all present and the visual details of each shine out. It feels like you are watching a proper epic. Howard Shore’s portentous music enhances the action.
The battle scenes are truly weird and wonderful.
Peter Jackson directs and everyone in the cast and crew went off to New Zealand for 14 months to film in extraordinary locations.
Of the enormous cast, Freeman’s Bilbo, Ian McKellen, Christopher Lee, Sylvester McCoy (ex-Doctor Who), Evangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett and Aidan Turner elicit your feelings while Richard Armitage and Luke Evans have great moments. It’s a terrific ensemble.
Everyone at the Stratford East Picturehouse enjoyed it, albeit the length provoked that flashing light of people playing games on their phones.
This hurts my eyes. Please stop that, okay?
Scenes and actors designed to add humour felt forced, as if a pantomime scene was suddenly being introduced to a more sombre tale.
There is just so much CGI everywhere that I had to slip off the 3D glasses, occasionally, to actually see what was happening.
It’s all overkill, but works as a bridge to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
If those are your favourite films ever, you’ll be very happy watching this. For me? I like my films to tell a simple story and get it all wrapped up within two hours. I didn’t mind watching the whole thing. but it won’t make my Top 10 list of 2014.