The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Peter Jackson, 2014)

A terrible mess of a movie. Confused, frenetic, but most of all, dull. How Jackson managed to make a film this bad from the source material he had, and allegedly loves, bewilders me.

I know some of my friends think I can be over-harsh when disappointed, and I’m also open to charges of being a purist, but I really don’t think this is the case here. After the first part of this trilogy, I really wasn’t sure I’d watch any more at all, and I certainly wasn’t going to pay good money to see it, but we have the streaming service and there it sat, waiting…

The first part of Lord of the Rings was a delight, setting up the world of middle-earth with a care that astonished and made me see it through new eyes. From there on, Jackson started changing things, messing the plot around, understandable and absolutely crucial in theory but, in practice, totally (in my opinion) misjudged as the effect was to remove any character from the films, and all subtlety (and, god knows, Tolkein didn’t have that much!) from characters. This was especially difficult in The Two Towers but this movie is much, much worse than that one.

If ever there’s an episode in the book where we might like to linger and look around, Jackson inserts some bogus reason to get the characters running around or fighting in the manner of a really bad video game. If there’s a character’s motive that is at all unclear, Jackson will insert a stilted speech or conversation which gives an unconvincing ‘explanation’ for it. And he deviates far from the book in order to make this drivel ‘work’. It’s as if he is terrified that if the screen stops spinning round for more then ten seconds, or if anything at all is unexplained, the audience will wander off. The perverse result of this hyperactive stupidity was to make the moments when the film did catch my attention rare, my mind wandering to more interesting places, like whether I’d received any emails, for most of the ridiculously long run-time.

I’ve not given the plot; what’s the point? Read the book (it’ll take an hour) and overdose on energy drinks. You’ll get the idea.

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One response

  1. “I’m also open to charges of being a purist, but I really don’t think this is the case here.”
    Well. I haven’t read the book, and I agree, so I suppose it must have been a dull film!

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