Poll: How Do You Rate The Desolation of Smaug?


poster-hobbitdesolationThe Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has been in theaters for two weeks.

I saw it opening day. I had to. Even though I panned An Unexpected Journey, I had hope for the second movie. After all, it features two of my favorite sequences from the book—Mirkwood and Smaug.

I went into viewing the second movie with hope, even though that hope was largely unfounded. In my opinion, An Unexpected Journey suffers from the same problems that King Kong and The Lovely Bones suffered—a lack of editing.

Put another way:

Long sequences of barely watchable CGI-infused action that break up the narrative yet do nothing for the overall story.

I cringe even thinking back on those movies. For many of you, that may sound like blasphemy. There have been so many Tolkien fans who have wanted more scenes, extended sequences, etc. But for me, I like a tightly-knit narrative where every minute of the film is used to further the overall story. I feel the same way about many epic fantasy series where excessive description bogs down the tale. That’s purple prose. Don’t think for one minute that purple prose does not exist in movie form too.

An Unexpected Journey did have some strong moments though. For instance, Bilbo versus Gollum worked for me. Tightly written. Tense. Amusing one moment. Poignant the next. Peter Jackson did a marvelous job with that wonderful scene—only to follow it up with the horrendous flight from the goblins where long minutes were devoted to so much movie padding that I fast forward through it when I watch the Blu-ray now.

The Desolation of Smaug features that same problem. But first, I want to point out that I don’t mind the additions and liberties that Peter Jackson has taken. I liked Tauriel. I liked Legolas. I liked Thranduil. I really appreciate what Jackson was trying to do and it largely worked for me. Similar to the Bilbo/Gollum scene, the initial meeting between Bilbo and Smaug was priceless and worth the price of admission alone—until that meeting went off the rails into a CGI gloryfest similar to the barrel scene that did nothing for the overall story.

I give the movie a 6 stars out of 10 stars. Smaug saved it for me just like Gollum helped the first movie achieve 5 stars out of 10 stars.

I ask this question:

Poll: How do you rate THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG?

What do you think about the movie? Do you think it is edited properly? Do you think it works just fine? Are you a movie goer who can’t wait for an Extended Edition? What do you think could have been handled better? Or not?

  • mike love

    it is sad that Jackson is directing these movies, it became clear as LOtR progressed that e understands next to nothing about Tolkien the storyteller. Everything he has added has been at the expense of what Tolkien was saying. All of the additions to the hobbit seem to be there mainly to have enough “story” to justify 3 movies and pad their already sizable bank accounts.

  • sharon neyman

    Very disappointed, the scenes with the orcs were just unnecessary, they should have put more into their journey through the forest. Did not mind the new characters and Smaug was Magnificent! Wished they had remained true to the story.

  • Murph

    It is solid. Yes, I can agree that certain scenes needed to be trimmed down, but it is solid. So is An Unexpected Journey. They are by no means perfect and they are not quite in the same class as LoTR. However, they are good films. Do the Hobbit movies 100% do JRRT justice? No, probably not. But honestly, who has that ability to do the Hobbit justice?

  • Gary

    My brother had a very good way of looking at \The Hobbit\ as a set of movies. He thinks of them as \Middle Earth Tales\… that way he isn’t disappointed when they diverge from the actual story, and have elements that make no sense.

  • Joe Garcia

    I haven’t seen it yet

  • Paul Piche

    I spent the entirety of the Desolation of Smaug feeling distinctly unhappy and at times even angry. The story of the strength of the English people is gone and has been totally replaced by nothing more than an Americanized, Hollywood Block-Buster fantasy film. Peter Jackson destroyed Esgaroth and turned it into something very like a caricature of the American Revolution. He added awkward romance scenes which deadened the pace of the plot, and replaced actual scenes which developed characters like Gandalf and Beorn with his own sub-plots which added nothing.
    Worst of all, he ruined the whole theme of the whole book by having the dwarves enter Erebor to do battle with Smaug for the sake of gratuitous CGI. Bilbo is supposed to be the only one brave enough to face smaug precisely because he is the one you would least suspect would be the bravest of them. This sort of unexpected hero is what Tolkien is what Tolkien was presenting the English as, and the whole point is ruined by having the Anglo Saxon dwarves face Smaug.

  • Robert

    Well, I guess there are still many folks out there that believe Books and Movies should be 1 of the same. Where books trigger imagination, movies and special effects awes the audience.
    My opinion is to enjoy it for what it is. And if you’re too good for poor cgi’s and bad storytelling, then why don’t you just read the books and let people with a more capable and open mind enjoy both. Listening and reading some of your comments gives me the impression that your way too above other worldly beings. If people would just learn to live and let live there might be less conflict in our world. For all those who do, continue enjoying the movies and the books as they come available.

  • My biggest problem was the padding plus the rather abrupt ending with sooo many cliffhangers. Unexpected Journey ended on less of a cliffhanger – with Erebor visible, so the promise of success was there. I liked Tauriel and liked that she kicked butt. I though Legolas underused, though. All in all, I do wish I had waited to watch Smaug before the next installment came out.

  • Again I have been chested by the Agency who has blocked my cousin Dewayne Darian, a big time director and screen writer in Hollywood from visiting me and taking me to the movies to see The Desolation of Smag! Knowing that I am broke and have no car or means of transporation to get to the Theater! Damn you Goodwin!!!

  • Chris W

    I don’t mind that some think that the story should stick closer to the original, but I would also ask that if they did that would the movie be that great?

    Seriously Tolkien created a genre for sure and we can be grateful for that, and there is much to attribute to him, but his writing abilities lacked. In the face of more modern fantasy writers he wouldn’t really compare. His stories/writings are overly pedantic and what I can only say has the feeling of reading stereo instructions, dry would be the word.

    In the face of that, liberties have been taken, and I think as far they work. Is the movie great? Maybe, but after the Lord of the Rings movies the expectations are pretty high and I would say maybe 2 movies would have sufficed but again trying to understand another mans art (Jackson) can often mean thinking he needs to live up to your expectations, take those away and that is what it should be gauged on.

  • Doug Pauls

    I must say I liked the film but was somewhat disappointed. I loved the way Peter Jackson stayed so close to the book in Lord of the Rings, but all of the artistic license in Smaug was disappointing. The crowning down point was the lighting of the forges in record time and melting a golden dwarf king over the dragon. Come on. I hope that the final film sticks to the original script better.

  • I agree. I could stomach a lot of the changes. However, the stuff under the mountain was too much. Little more than the foreshadowing/prophecy of nothing more substantial than a future theme park/video game ride..

    I am glad I wasn’t the only one to take exception to the more extreme elements of Jackson extravagance. Joe Abercrombie also wrote to good effect on this subject

  • linellos

    Having just watched the extended version of the first Hobbit film today, prior to going to see the second in the theater, I’ve decided that I will not really enjoy these films until I can see the full extended set. Almost all of the editing issues I had with the first film were more than corrected by the longer version. I am hopeful that I will eventually feel the same about the second film. I will see the third in the theater to support the series, but I suspect it will leave me as disappointed and detached as this one did this evening.

    I don’t like the addition of Tauriel at the expense of the other characters and scenes from the book, but again I’m hoping that when I can see the extended version, this will balance out. Thranduil and Legolas were great, but I’d rather have seen more of them and less of the random love triangle that smacked of cheesy Hollywood to me. (This review sums up my reaction nicely: http://www.bustle.com/articles/10834-in-the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-we-cant-root-for-tauriel-heres-why)

    Smaug’s scenes with Bilbo were by far my favorite bits in this one. The \battle\ with Smaug, while giving the dwarves a moment to face him, left me not caring a whit, and I just wanted him to get out of there and start sacking the town. Meh. I like that they are expanding the action from the appendices, and I like that they explored what Gandalf was really up to. So…I am just waiting for those extended versions and the payoff this long-standing Tolkien fan has been hoping for.

  • Rick

    The movie was fine as far as effects, scenes, costumes, etc. go, but what the hell story were they telling? What I saw was third rate fan fiction. It was Hollywood BS at it worst.

  • Hiiro Moriyama

    For all who did not trust Jackson for this great magnificent movie trilogy, It is because you did not understand the entire story. Jackson didn’t focused just in “The Hobbit”. He also read unfinished tales, Silmarillion and other stories of Tolkien’s Middle Earth in that case he knew what really happened on that story. Maybe he added some sort of characters, It is because he wanted to make the movie connected to the other stories just like legolas. We saw him in the movie perfectly characterized and had given more part on his role to the movie. Though he did not exist in the story but he has been told in the book Unfinished tales chapter three of the Third age, The quest to Erebor. He was called “The prince of Mirkwood”. Thranduil has no other child beside Legolas Greenleaf which means he is the only prince of Mirkwood. And in the introduction of the Desolation of Smaug Movie, Gandalf knew that Smaug the Dragon could pose a serious threat if used by Sauron, then dwelling in Dol Guldur in Mirkwood. He was thinking about the matter when he met Thorin Oakenshield at Bree. Thorin also was concerned about Smaug, but had the different motive of revenge and the reclaiming of the dwarves’ treasure in the Lonely Mountain. Gandalf agreed to help Thorin.

    Gandalf thought Bilbo, an unlikely choice, to be a suitable companion of Thorin and his Dwarves for a number of reasons. First, he had observed that Bilbo took an interest in the world at large, and was thus adventurous. Another reason is that Smaug would not recognize the scent of a Hobbit, advantageous to a stealthy operation. Thorin also did not think highly of Hobbits, and putting Bilbo in the expedition might prevent the proud Thorin from rash actions — such as openly challenging Smaug.

    It was Thorin’s objections to Bilbo that Gandalf found most difficult to overcome. Thorin believed that Bilbo was incapable of helping their adventure and that Gandalf might be simply meddling in his affairs for his own reasons. After much debate, Gandalf convinced Thorin that Bilbo would be a worthy member. It could be thought that Gandalf arranged this as he has foreseen the later event and wanted to create another front to fight Sauron.

  • “For all who did not trust Jackson for this great magnificent movie trilogy, It is because you did not understand the entire story.”

    Hiiro, it’s not the extra stuff that Jackson put in that makes these movies so horrible. It’s the FILMMAKING that is so horrible. Here is just one of three dozen examples I can speak to:

    At the beginning of The Desolation of Smaug, Gandalf meets Thorin for the first time in Bree. Before Gandalf arrives, Thorin notices that two men are looking at him and it is clear they are there to claim the bounty Azog the Defiler has set. Why are those men going to spring their trap on Thorin in a Bree bar of all places? Did they both just happen to recognize Thorin and decided to jump him in the bar rather than outside? Why are they being so obvious about it? If they have been following him, why not ambush him outside of Bree? Or out in the streets? And beyond that, why would both of those men cringe and NOT attack Thorin in the bar just because an old man walked up to Thorin? They don’t know who Gandalf is just like Thorin did not. Those men should have attacked if they were going to at all. They did not. It’s Jackson building up conflict for the sake of conflict yet that conflict makes no sense if you look at it. It’s piss poor filmmaking.

    Here’s another example from The Unexpected Journey that irks me to no end. Bilbo runs after the company with contract in hand, ready to join the Dwarves. He finds them in the woods and gives the contract over for inspection. He is then given a pony. Jackson has ALREADY established that Bilbo is not an adventurer, especially with his misgivings about receiving the pony. What does Jackson do then? He has Bilbo have an allergy attack. An allergy attack that DOES NOT HAPPEN the rest of the movie or into the second movie. One of the dwarves tears him a handkerchief, throws it back, and that allows Gandalf to say something along the lines of, “You are not home any longer, with its comforts, Bilbo Baggins. The world is before you.” Gandalf could have easily said that right after the pony incident. It’s poor writing and filmmaking — worse, poor editing. Add all of these types of minutes up, and 1/2 hour could have been carved off the film making it a much tighter, better flowing movie.

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