Dwarves, it seems, can’t sneak into places to save their lives.
Think about it – in the first Hobbit movie (by the way – minor spoilers below), they can’t sneak past Trolls (ok, that was Bilbo’s fault), can’t sneak past Orcs, and can’t sneak past Goblins, and are lead to the Elves. The dwarves apparently havn’t learned anything since the first film. Almost every time they try to sneak about, they are captured, hauled up before some leader for a nice interrogation/Q&A, and then end up somehow escaping. But on the lack of dwarvish sneaking skills, I digress.
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug has a lot going for it. It has the amazing art design and execution of the Weta Workshop under the guidance of the very talented Peter Jackson. The scope of the film is vast – picking up immediately following the events of the first Hobbit film, it starts off at a breakneck speed, but then almost immediately slows to a leisurely stroll for most of the middle section of the film.
The movie is not without its flaws. There are several times that the pace is quite slow. Sometimes this is important for character development, but sometimes it is just slowing down the story for…..stretching it out into a third movie? That’s about the best explanation I have for those choices. Purists might enjoy the exploration of some elements that exist within the overall narrative of the story of the Hobbit but aren’t actually seen in the book; however, those same purists will have issues – ISSUES – with the expansion of a side story involving a character that does not appear in the book at all.
Then there’s Smaug himself. I am a big fantasy fan, and I will say that Smaug is possibly the most impressive representation of a dragon (wyvern, wyrm) on screen that I have ever seen, and Benedict Cumberpatch played the voice in an extremely effective and nuanced way that was…..great.
A technical note: I saw it in 3D high frame rate in a theater with a Dolby Atmos sound system. The Atmos system is now my absolute favorite sound system for watching movies, and I think the 3D was used very well (it helped that Jackson shot the film in 3D rather then going for post-conversion). As for high frame rate…I saw the original Hobbit movie in 3D HFR, 3D 24 frame rate (ie: normal), and 2D. Overall, I enjoyed the 3D HFR for the live action scenes – however, any computer generated scenes were….bad. Really bad. The Goblin Town scene, especially, looked far too much like something I might play on my PS3 for me to really enjoy as part of a film I payed good money to see. That was my chief concern regarding CG characters in DoS – that Smaug, in particular, would look like the dragon from Dragon’s Dogma so much that I would want to pull out a controller.
Thankfully, I was completely wrong in my expectations – Smaug was, indeed, the most impressive visual in the film, in my opinion. He did not look like a video game character – he looked like a dragon, death on wings, fire given form. I’m looking forward to seeing how he looks in other formats.
What do you think? Leave a comment with your thoughts on the film.