Sunday, December 15, 2013

My review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

It's been ages since I've updated this blog, but since I figured I'll start doing this again in the new year, I may as well get started with a review. I also haven't done any book reviews in ages, but a review of a movie based on a book counts, right?

Here's my review of the second "The Hobbit" movie. Warning: spoilers and ranting ahead. Lots of both.

I had been a little sad that I didn't get to see the new Hobbit movie on opening day, breaking my trend, but after seeing it the day after, I'm regretting the decision to see it at all. It was a travesty. Tolkien must be spinning in his grave at this "adaptation" of his book. And that's exactly what I'm going to call it: an "adaptation" in quotes. While there were a number of changes to the trilogy (and the first Hobbit movie), I felt that they were fairly faithful adaptations of the books. In this case it was barely recognizable as the same story. Not only was I rolling my eyes throughout most of the movie, I almost walked out twice and that's saying a lot since I try to give everything (books, movies, etc) the benefit of the doubt until the very end. The only reason I didn't walk out was because I knew my husband wanted to see it. (Poor guy. I ruined this for him with all my rants I've been doing over the past week; I hadn't had much optimism for this movie from the get-go, fearing that they'd butcher my favorite part of the book.)

I can understand changing things to make them flow better as a movie, even if I don't always agree with the changes, but in this case, there was more change than original story- and the bits of the original story that remained were even changed, glossed over, or skipped entirely.

I know I'm probably so sour because The Hobbit is my most favorite book and I'm very attached to it; my dad read it to me for the first time when I was six, so it holds a special place in my heart as one of my favorite childhood memories, and it has had a lot of influence over my life and interests and all. And I knew Peter Jackson and company were going to go into this by changing things (I'd been watching his video diary things), but I just wasn't prepared for the fact that he was changing everything. It hurt. It was like watching a piece of my childhood being ripped apart and stomped on. I can understand the appeal of fanfiction- heck, I used to write it for various fandoms back in the day before I moved on to writing my own stories and partly-finished novels- but fanfiction does not an adaptation make. I could forgive him Arwen. I could even forgive him for screwing up Faramir. But this is unforgivable. I'll be seeing it again Monday with my dad just so he can watch it, but after that, I'm never planning on watching this rubbish again. (Well, not unless a fan takes the good scenes from the three movies and condenses them into a decent single movie or two.)

This would have been a decent movie had Peter Jackson and company decided to just drop all semblance of calling this an adaptation and wrote their own story. The acting was good. The visuals and scenery were gorgeous. But as The Hobbit it was terrible. I got a few laughs after the movie ended when I said out loud "What did I just watch? That wasn't 'The Hobbit'. That was fanfiction!" and that's the statement that sums up my entire opinion of this movie. As one of my friends said, I just hate that I had to hate it.

Click here to read the spoilery part of the review:
My main problems:
-Beorn. He got next to no screen time, but there was plenty of time for characters who didn't even exist in the story. I didn't mind the change of how they found him since I figured from the beginning that the dwarves wouldn't be introduced to him the way they were in the book, but his role was just way too short.
-Legolas. I had no problem with him being in the movie. Heck, I was looking forward to this because it's a good way of bringing in a character from LotR in a way that fit in with The Hobbit. But this Legolas was hardly recognizable as the same character from the LotR movies, although that might be less Bloom's acting as the script he was given.
-Tauriel. I went into this knowing I would hate her (a made up character played by my least favorite actress? Yick!), but if this hadn't turned into The Hobbit fanfiction, I would have actually liked her. Lilly did a great job acting the part and I do like the idea of a female elf scout/warrior. But one of the two times I almost walked out was because of the asininity of her thing with Kili. Yes, I hate the love triangle thing (I've never really liked those anyway), but what got me was the whole Arwen thing she was channeling- and how Jackson, who is supposedly this huge Tolkien fan, messed with the mythos. She's Avari, right? There is no reason why a silvan elf should have magical powers. That whole scene just made me want to storm out.
-Smaug. Or, rather, the dwarves' interaction with him. He's supposed to be the villain of the story and by the end the dwarves seemed to no longer be scared of him and are playing with him. When the dwarves aren't scared, neither are the viewers. That totally takes away from what Smaug is supposed to be.
-The actions scenes were ridiculous. Okay, so I chuckled a few times, but they were too over the top.
-They moved Lake Town and the lake. Let that sink in. (Haha, sink, lake, get it?) I remember someone, Thorin possibly, saying at some point that they had to cross the lake to get to the mountain. Uh, no. The mountain was north. The lake was due east. Had they stuck with the book's plot, they could have just given that reason for going where they did. Minor, but this bothered me.
(Edit: -Bilbo. I completely forgot about him, but that's okay because apparently the movie did, too. Despite the fact that this was called, you know, The Hobbit, Bilbo got very little screen time. To put it into perspective, not counting his conversation with Smaug [the best part of the movie, in my opinion, and- surprise- the part most true to the book], there were quite a few characters with more lines than he had. This is sad because Freeman is a perfect Bilbo. But no, please, tell us more about this wonderful story about Tauriel.)

Changes I didn't mind:
-Bard. It honestly didn't bother me that they made him a barge operator or gave him extra kids. That was all perfectly fine.
-Thranduil, although I'm still on the fence about him. He was pretty close to how I've always pictured him (and he's my favorite The Hobbit character, just narrowly being beat out by Merry, Eowyn, and Faramir as favorite Middle Earth character), but that whole bit about his face being damaged by the dragon made me grimace. Not sure how I feel about that.
-Radagast and Gandalf. I could let all that slide since it wasn't so joltingly inaccurate as the rest of this.
-Gandalf meeting with Thorin in Bree. Eh, that was fine.

Honestly, there's so much about this movie that I despised that I can't even think of a list of things I actually liked. The scene where they went into the barrels was good. I liked Beorn, the little we got to see of him. Smaug was pretty dang awesome (despite the dwarves' effort to remove the awe). And I did like Bard.

Edit: I suppose I should give this a star review. If I could distance myself from the fact that it's supposed to be The Hobbit and pretend it's just an expensively produced "Dungeons and Dragons" movie, I'd give it 3.5/5 stars. However, since it's supposed to be an adaptation of a story that already exists, it's going to get 1.5/5 stars from me. (The only reason it got that many at all is because of how pretty the movie looked and that most of the acting was well done. In terms of pacing, plot, and characterization, it's in the negative stars.)

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