Date Posted: 2013-12-25
Tolkien Fan Level: 8
Film Format Seen? Imax 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes
Much improved, ingeniously paced, thoughtfully embellished, and yet still overly action-Jacksoned. I join many Tolkien fans in gratefully applauding Jackson's risky three-ring circus of expanding what could have been one or two movies into a trilogy of epic length and scope. I doubt he did it for the money, and I don't begrudge him of doing so even if he did.
Still, his "Desolation of Smaug" middle installment suffers only slightly less from the no-physics zone action sequences which made much of the combat scenes of "An Unexpected Journey" too cartoonish to take seriously. At least there were no mountains playing UFC with each other this time, but the River Running Bolg/Legolas/Tauriel sequence and the Thorin v/ Smaug sequence would both have been twice as good if half as long and at least somewhat governed by the forces of gravity and friction. Obviously, Jackson believes this video-game like "action" is what audiences want to see, but even my 19-year old stepson was yawning towards the end of the Smaug sequence. Considering the superb work Jackson did with the characters of Beorn, Thrandruil, Bard, the Laketown Master, and even Sauron, I can only imagine how much more outstanding this film could have been if 15 minutes of repetitive orc-slaying and Dragon-baiting had been substituted with 15 minutes of character development and tension-building dialogue to drive the story and make the uninitiated actually care about the fate of Thorin and Co. and Middle Earth. No other director would have dared the venture, so Jackson deserves much more applause than the above gripes suggest. He did learn from his mistaken bloating of certain scenes in the "AUJ", so I can only hope Jackson's final installment will prove that he can properly build the tension to the Battle of the Five Armies...without giving us an hour-long battle which amounts to little more than an instruction on the various ways by which orcs can be decapitated, crushed, run through, or impaled while all others emerge miraculously unscathed.
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