News

REVIEW: The Hobbit: The ‘Desolation’ of plot

REVIEW: The Hobbit: The ‘Desolation’ of plot

Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman, confronts the dragon in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." Photo: Associated Press/Warner Bros. Pictures, Mark Pokorny

Genre:  Action, Adventure, Sci Fi, Fantasy | Run Time: 161 min | Rated: PG-13
Director: Peter Jackson | Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Orlando Bloom

By: George Wolf

The fantasy film genre boasts some great sequels, even when those films are little more than bridges from Episode 1 to 3. While the second born may lack closure, it doesn’t bear the burden of exposition that tends to weigh down any first episode, and it lacks the need to tidy up every minute detail that sometimes derails a final installment.

The Empire Strikes Back is the classic example, but the genre offers many others. The Hunger Games sequel, for instance, far surpasses the first. Even the wingnut Peter Jackson’s first Tolkien trilogy offered the swiftly paced and satisfying center, The Two Towers.

His next Middle Earth middle child, the beardtastic The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, hits screens this week, and it, too, benefits from a groundwork set in the first installment, and the freedom to end without tidying up.

And Arkenstone be damned, Ian McKellen is the gem of this franchise. Once again, he brings the right mix of humor and gravitas to make Gandalf the coolest guy – excuse me, wizard – in the realm.

Martin Freeman is also spot-on as Bilbo – a perfect mix of humility, courage, and British manners. His Bilbo is very easy to relate to, which is rarely the case in a Tolkien production. Still, many of the million-ish supporting turns, though universally one-dimensional (regardless of cinematic presentation), animate the tale appropriately.

There’s a lot holding it back, though.

Mainly, it suffers from the same condition as An Unexpected Journey, which is that there is no defensible reason to make three films out of the novel The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings was conceived by Tolkien as a trilogy, where The Hobbit is a single volume, so Jackson had to carve it into three, padding and elongating here and there to accomplish this mission.

Because if there’s one thing Tolkien needs, it’s more stuff.

The needless bloat is an obstacle to enjoying all that’s right about the film, because the story just becomes tedious too soon and too often. The fact that you realize there will be no satisfying conclusion does not make the pace seem any less leaden, and the result feels more like a rip-off than a cliffhanger.

Yes, the dragon looks cool, the Orcs continue to frighten, and as a tourist video for New Zealand, the location shooting works miracles. But many filmmakers, Jackson included, have been devoted enough to the stepping-stone sequel to craft a film that succeeds where the rest of the franchise fails. This time around, Jackson just adds filler and cashes checks.

Verdict-2-5-Stars

Read more movie reviews at MaddWolf.com.

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Dec. 18

farley

A look at the Hollywood headlines that made history.

in Entertainment

Brangelina hired a cyber security firm for their kids

brangelina

The "Tomb Raider" star and her husband are taking precautions to protect their six children as they grow up in a digital world.

in Weird

(Don’t) embrace the YES!

johnshopkins

Johns Hopkins University says 300 applicants were mistakenly sent welcome messages when they were actually rejected.

in Music

Eric Singer will leave KISS if Simmons, Stanley retire

kiss

Singer joined the group in 1991 following the death of Eric Carr, and says he couldn't continue without his pals.

in Entertainment

REVIEW: Final ‘Hobbit’ movie falls short of original trilogy

In this image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Martin Freeman appears in a scene from the film, "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies."

This Christmas, Peter Jackson gives us the gift of his final trip to Middle Earth with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.