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?