NOTE: This post contains SPOILERS if you haven’t seen the movie and/or read the book.
SUMMARY (from IMDB): The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.
I have mixed feelings about the adaptations of Tolkien’s work. On one hand, the Tolkien nerd in me is irritated by the things they unnecessarily alter or add in the films. On the other hand, the films themselves are state-of-the-art, both visually and storytelling-wise, and if they bring Tolkien’s work closer to new readers, so much the better.
If I do some nit-picking, I can easily find things that annoyed me:
- the mix-up with Bold and Azog which has already appeared in The Unexpected Journey is what bothered me the most as there was absolutely no need for it;
- the Dwarves actually running from Beorn was a redundant addition, there only for the sake of drama, I guess;
- Bilbo getting caught by a spider was done for the same reason, I think; and
- the same goes for the Orcs following the Dwarves through Mirkwood to the Elf-realm and Esgaroth and keeping on attaching them;
- Why on Earth did they think adding a weird love triangle between Tauriel, Legolas and Kili was a good idea?
- Naming one of the guards in the Elf-realm Elros – I’m pretty sure there would be no two Elroses in Tolkien’s universe (Tolkien of course doesn’t say that explicitly, but as Elros, brother of Elrond, is a character of extreme importance, I don’t think there would be another one, unless the wood Elves named someone after him to honour his memory. See, I said I was nit-picking.)
- Oh, and I hated Kili getting wounded and Fili and Bofur staying with him in Esgaroth, it was completely out of place, but they needed it to showcase more of Tauriel’s fighting skills and her healing skills, oh and because of the love triangle which angered me to no extent.
- Gandalf going to check the Witch-Kings tomb didn’t make sense since the Wraith-king was supposed to have vanished from the North, not die, anyway, but they already made a mess of that plot element in the first film with the Witch-King’s blade.
However, if I look at the film adaptations as some sort of fan-fiction, then all the above things aren’t that terrible; they are just a twist to the story, an alternate universe of the canon, if you want.
Furthermore, there are other alterations and additions which I actually liked, even if they don’t originate in The Hobbit itself, but were incorporated from other Tolkien’s work, such as:
- Gandalf meeting Thorin in Bree and
- Gandalf searching Dol Guldur to reveal Sauron’s true identity are both mentioned in the LOTR and I liked that they included those events here.
- Tauriel – I loved her, though she’s not in Tolkien’s works, and his Elf-women are more stay-at-home types (except Luthien and Galadriel, of course, or maybe we just think that. Tolkien does not say they were forbidden to fight or anything, he just doesn’t mention them, maybe it’s just our in-built patriarchal reasoning we base our assumptions on.) Anyway, Tauriel is super kickass, self-reliant and compassionate, and with a moral integrity of her own, and all of it makes a great character. If only they left the love triangle out of it.
- I liked how they portrayed Thranduil, very in-character both as far as Thranduil himself is concerned and as Elf-lords in general: somewhat greedy and arrogant, but also dignified and essentially good (though we haven’t seen that yet).
- Thorin actually telling Bilbo to steal the Arkenstone and Smaug figuring it out and telling Bilbo he would maybe let him take it, even if only to see Thorin destroyed by it, and later Bilbo figuring out how the greed for it is already destroying Thorin was inconsistent with the book, but it achieved the same effect as is done in the book by other means, so I’m fine with it. (And I bet we’ll get a flashback to Bilbo actually taking the Arkenstone in The Battle of Five Armies, or he will steal it later, at least he should, if they are sticking to the book as they should.)
- The Dwarves fighting Smaug is not in the book, either, but it looked great.
- Smaug. CGI well done. That’s all I’m saying.
Despite the length, two and a half hours went by fast. Though, I was bored a bit during the action sequences. Am I the only person who gets bored by action? All that fighting and improbable saves and moves and jumps and falls the heroes get unscathed out don’t work for me – or maybe the fact that too much happens too fast overwhelms my brain and I just zone out for a while.
All in all, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was a great film and I enjoyed it.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoy fantasy and adventure, you will like this film. As for Tolkien fans, if you can give the film a bit of a leeway with the adaptations made, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is well-worth seeing.