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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Ringer Review - NAME

Hassan Iftikhar

27, Lahore

Date Posted: 2014-01-25
Tolkien Fan Level: 8
Film Format Seen? 3D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes

As I sat in the cinema for the midnight screening of the film, the excitement surged and my heart began thumping, a creeping sense of trepidation and an uneasy tingle of apprehension arose since I was greatly perturbed by the degree to which the previous installment was berated and rebuked by the critics. Given that I am a diehard aficionado of the Tolkien Mythos/Books, these movies resonate to me on an intimate level, supplemented by the fact that I have waited for these films for more than 9 years.

I was somewhat assuaged with the positive critical response this film was garnering while going in to witness the second hobbit film. Given the juvenile, blithe and somewhat whimsical narrative and paradoxical thematic structure of the book I think this is indeed a fine, visceral achievement and a perfect juxtaposition of Special effects, astute direction, sweeping musical score and sound mixing/editing.

The Hobbit book does not have that conventional narrative and also as a children’s book it starts off as too schmaltzy and progresses into a somewhat somber epic. Furthermore, since the main antagonist in the film “Smaug” is slain by Bard right through the middle of the book, translating this from the book to celluloid must have been an extremely arduous process that could have lead to an un-adaptable impediment compromising the integrity of the film in terms of a consistent entertaining story. This being a children’s book has the highest death count in terms of the main ensemble cast compared to its predecessor films (LOTR Trilogy) which were tonally in stark contrast to the buoyant and hedonistic first and mercurial second hobbit film. And finally the end turns into civil war where all the races of middle earth get embroiled in a fight for the unclaimed treasure of the Dwarven kingdom. Especially with one of your central characters “Thorin” turning into the main antagonist of the film, in a hypnotic and virulent manner.

This clearly shows the inconsistencies of the narrative of the hobbit book, which Prof Tolkien himself realized when he tried to interweave the hobbit story in the larger middle earth tapestry. He added appendices in the Lord of the rings “Durins Folk”, wrote ‘The quest for Erebor” in Unfinished Tales, edited the riddles of the dark chapter and even considered rewriting a hefty portion of the book to consistently merge it into his epic mythology.

With the aforementioned justifications, Peter Jackson and Co have added certain brazen and callow embellishments and taken liberties which may leave Tolkien purists fretting and fulminating. The contrived love story between Kili and Taurial, is an arbitrary inclusion which may have been totally discarded. The film on the other hand is astonishingly fast faced and time passes by in the wink of an eye. The tangential sub plots of Gandalf, the necromancer and Bard add depth and emotional heft to the film which severely lacked in the book. The spider’s scene will put arachnophobe’s on the edge of their seats and the barrel escape scene too was a splendid logistical roller coaster ride.

Smaug is the penultimate dragon and the true manifestation of the quintessential flying serpent, perhaps the best dragon to grace the silver screen in the history of cinema. The Incorporeal malevolence known as the necromancer is revealed as Sauron, who is stupendously conceived. The begotten character ‘Taurial” breathes an air of femininity in the male centric film, who is a robust female warrior elf and the voice of reason in this film.

I am more in love with the world of Tolkien thankfully to Peter Jackson’s films and his interpretation of Tolkiens master piece. Although not all liberties and interpretations have my blessing, Jackson given the creative Carte Blanch somewhat strays in his gargantuan endeavor as hyperbole and overly kinetic action scenes seem to be blatantly stretched and padded. He indeed needs to learn the art of brevity since “Editing” isn’t his forte and his penchant for ostentatious display of special effects does not help either. Overindulgence in flamboyant visuals and capricious action ‘fight scenes serve to pad the storyline, which is another transgression of Jackson.

The second installment proves to be a fast paced, enthralling experience which tantalizes your senses and leaves you craving for more, especially with the abrupt cliffhanger ending. Jackson’s bravado to venture where most filmmaker’s wouldn’t dare and his love for the source material indeed needs acknowledgment. Bilbo stymied by the staggering plethora of dwarves in the first film blossoms and establishes himself as the central figure of valor and courage in this film. Once the credits started to roll, I sat in the cinema unable to blink by the by the might and power of what boundless imagination can do to you. I can imagine the finale being a magnum opus of war, death and sacrifice.

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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