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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Ringer Review - NAME


50, Los Angeles, CA
United States

Date Posted: 2013-12-28
Tolkien Fan Level: 9
Film Format Seen? 3D 48 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes

Let's face it: adapted word for word, Tolkien's vision of "The Hobbit" would make a rather dull film - an art film, which might not be a bad thing, but one that would not generate the revenue that makes such grand filmmaking possible. And you can be sure, the filmmakers could not forget they were having to live up to very high expectations, given the unqualified brilliance of LOtR.

The problem, of course, is that both the narrative and developmental framework of Tolkien's universe has unspooled in reverse order. The author penned the sweetly simple "Hobbit," then expanded that universe into the epic "LOtR," and then deepened the lore with "The Silmarillion." But since "LOtR" was produced first, there'd be no way to step back and produce a "small" Hobbit (no pun intended).

Thus, high marks are due the screenwriters for their freewheeling adaptation that, by delving deeply into "Silmarillion" lore, more fully illuminates this narrative while remaining true to the Tolkien codex. We already know the import of the ring - we already know the scope of Gandalf's mission, and so of course we must follow him to Dol Goldur, we must see his developing friction with Saruman's hubris.

Production values (costumes, props, art direction, makeup, photography, stunts, visual effects) are uniformly excellent, as with LOtR, in the unprecedented style of Weta's big umbrella that made the first trilogy easily among the greatest achievements in cinematic history.

One small casualty of high expectations unfortunately falls on the outstanding work of Howard Shore, who suffers for the genius of his LOtR work. Whereas with LOtR he somehow managed to create brilliant and unique anthems for virtually every aspect of the story - memorable themes for the ring, the hobbits, the fellowship, the Rohirrim, for Gondor, for Gandalf's majestic powers, for the infernal machine, and more, with "The Hobbit his work has been reduced from brilliant to merely outstanding. For some reason, the one memorably powerful theme used to great and heroic effect in "AUJ" went mysteriously absent in "DOS." The shame of it is that the score is splendid, and perfectly serviceable -- it can only be found wanting in comparison to his truly inspired LOtR achievement.

Casting - and acting - are brilliantly first-rate, and a joy to watch.

The only great, enduring tragedy of "DOS," as with "AUJ," comes with having to wait an entire year for the final chapter -- and in the looming reality that with that chapter, PJ's (and Fran/ Phillippa's, and many others') great cinematic gift of middle earth must be sadly complete.

The Ratings
The Other Ratings
Martin Freeman 's performance as Bilbo Baggins?
How would you rate Luke Evan's performance as Bard??
The Overall representation of The Dwarves ?
How would you rate Benedict Cumberbatch's' performance as Smaug?
Ian McKellen's performance as Gandalf?
How would you rate Lee Pace's performance as Thranduil?
How would you rate Orlando Bloom's performance as Legolas?
How would you rate Evangeline Lilly's performance as Tauriel?
How would you rate Stephen Fry's performance as Master of Lake-Town?
Did you think Tauriel was a welcome addition to the film?
How would you rate Beorn?
How would you rate the scene with the Spiders?
How would you rate the imprisonment/escape sequence?
Did you like the Necromancer being discovered by Gandalf as Sauron?
Did the movie fairly portray the character arc of Thorrin?
How would you rate Lake-Town?
How would you rate the burglar interchange between Bilbo and Smaug?
How would you rate revisiting Bree?
How happy are you with the attempts to tie The Hobbit back to the Lord of the Rings?
Did you enjoy seeing Gandalf visit Gol Duldor and The Tombs?
Did you like the splitting of the company of Dwarves?
Did Smaug live up to your expectations?
How would you rate the ending of the movie; in regards to leading well into the next film, and serving as a good ending point.
Is DOS a better film than AUJ?
The overall pace of the film.

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