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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Ringer Review - NAME


Date Posted: 2014-01-27
Tolkien Fan Level: 7
Film Format Seen? 2D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? No

I’m disappointed. Most of DoS felt like fanfic.

+ Better than in AUJ overall. Good performances by Evans, Fry, Cumberbatch, most of the ‘Dwarves’, and even Freeman who I wasn’t sold on in AUJ (and still am not).

+ I liked more Dwarvish (beautifully pronounced, too)! More please. No modern terms this time- good.
- Another ‘Thrane’ (No! It’s ‘Thraa-in’ and ‘Daa-in’!). ‘Tilda’, ‘Sigrid’, ‘Percy’(!) - why pick names still in use? Aren’t there enough Old Norse names that have died out? Biggest offender: ‘Elros’! Elves don’t recycle famous names. Sloppy work. Even most fanfic authors come up with original names.

Effects/ CGI/ Art
+ Smaug (not golden, but I don’t care), Erebor, Sauron, Beorn’s house
- Oversized spiders and orcs (detract from the Uruk-hai and Shelob), the generic fantasy feel of Thranduil’s halls (also, no murals or decorations there, why?)

+ Lake-town theme, some LotR spinoffs (Shire, Mordor, Bree)
- no strong central theme (why not reuse Misty Mountains Cold?). Closing song again with guitars and high-pitched voices (watching Middle-earth, I don’t want to think ‘Simon and Garfunkel’ but JRRT’s races. The deep Dwarven voices in AUJ carried much more gravity). Biggest offender: ‘Arwen rescues the Ringbearer’ theme variation - applied to a made-up Woodelf saving a Dwarf. Outrageous.

+ Bard, the Master, Smaug, Bombur, Beorn (but why does he chase the company rather than Orcs?)
+/- Bilbo: sympathetic but at times silly (enters Smaug’s lair noisily), too much influenced by the Ring already (Mirkwood I get: the Necromancer is close. But Erebor?). Gandalf: nice but too silly compared to the books. Balin: nice to the point of over-nice (‘his name is Bilbo’)

- Thorin isn’t making much sense. Thorin the Saint has to be persuaded to go reclaim Erebor, wants all Dwarves to unite rather than treasure, saves Legolas’s life, and promises Lakemen a generous share of his treasure. Thorin the Villain is nasty towards his injured nephew and some others, and doesn’t want to repay his life debt when Bilbo needs help in Erebor. Weird lord-retinue relations, too. Why doesn’t he check the state of his company earlier before leaving Lake-town?
- Dwalin is downright repulsive, suggesting first theft and violence against Bard just because he ‘doesn’t like him’, then threatening a child. No other Dwarf objects. Thorin cries that Thranduil lacks honour, but his own company aren’t much better.
- out-of-character Dwarves. Book-Glóin would sooner die attempting to kill Legolas than suffer his hideous insults (not funny).
- despicable Elves- celebrating starlight but acting & speaking almost like Orcs.
- Tauriel would score high in any Mary Sue test (young ruthless killer with a noble heart – how original), and provides the most untolkienseque joke ever (the pants one). What’s worst about her is that JRRT’s own characters are villainized so she can be the hero.
- Thranduil is a hypocritical villain, moralizing about Thrór’s greed while demanding ‘his’ part of the treasure, then lying to an Orc while all but echoing the words of Tolkien’s Grishnákh.
- Legolas lacks own personality or opinions. He’s cruel without need (‘goblin mutant’), and gives us the least Tolkienesque line in DoS: killing a Dwarf would be a ‘pleasure’ to him. Dear whoever created this gem - noone but the wicked find pleasure in killing *anything* in JRRT’s world. Tauriel’s ‘You like killing, orc?’ sounds comical in this context: it seems her lord likes killing too.
- Other Mirkwood Elves lack personalities (only Tauriel the Hero questions Thranduil), space (no captains but Tauriel and Legolas), and battle prowess (Orcs mow them like grass).

+ all lines & scenes from the book (precious few: talking spiders, Bilbo & butterflies, Bilbo-Smaug debate etc.)
+ Bree, Dwarves at the Door, entering Erebor, Smaug ogling the statue, Thorin atop Smaug’s muzzle (odd but funny), the ending.

- Nonsense that doesn’t move the plot anywhere:
- If only a black arrow can kill Smaug, why does Gandalf urge Thorin to reclaim Erebor? Do Dwarves have black arrows? Why can’t they enter Erebor without him if he’s unable to be there on Durin’s Day? (How about ‘I’ll join you when I can’?)
- the entire cheesy love triangle. I can’t believe experienced adults wrote this and not a fangirl. Awful plot, awful lines.
- Athelas doesn’t grow in Lake-town. Elf captains that leave Mirkwood without belongings or healing supplies to save a dying person, need a head check and a demotion.
- Nazgul tombs (they didn’t die!). Red Eye drawing not obvious enough to guess who the Necromancer is?
- Thranduil’s face-change – we’re not in Harry Potter. I almost expected him to sprout Moody’s magic eye.
- PC-game-like moments: A gold-spouting statue. Repetitive combats. Dwarves only obey the one who has the Arkenstone (why not obey Smaug, then?)

I’m sad to imagine what DoS could have been if the team stuck to the book more in plot and characterizations.

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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