Brian’s Review – “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (2013)

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What’s it About?

The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug.

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

Directed by Peter Jackson

8 out of 10

By Brian

It felt like I was in the minority but I enjoyed the first film in The Hobbit Trilogy. While I don’t believe that it was as thematically dramatic as the Lord of the Rings, it still contained wonderful bits of fantasy and entertaining characters. It ended on a cliffhanger (obviously, it was part 1 of 3) and that seemed to turn people off. I also read several complaints that the dragon wasn’t even seen except for a brief tease at the very end.

This brings us obviously to part 2, which is a definite improvement over the first both from a story and action perspective. This is “The Empire Strikes Back” episode. It’s much darker than the first, it places its heroes in far greater danger, and it does not have a tidy and happy ending. It also moves at a much more breakneck pace. There’s very little supposition. The answers are clear and definite in the story and the characters have a real progression as they move closer to their goals.

My original thought was that this was every bit as good as the first film in the Hobbit trilogy until Smaug the dragon shows up in the last 30 minutes. Wonderfully voiced by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, Smaug is a wonder of special effects design and one of the greatest digital creations in cinema history. Once the dragon enters the story, it is elevated from good to great and the scenes involving Bilbo’s interactions with Smaug are every bit as good as any of the Middle Earth films.

Side note: I saw this film in HFR (High Frame Rate, 48fps) 3D. I cannot recommend against it enough. While I have never been a fan of 3D and consider it a distracting experience, high frame rates are worse. It makes the entire film look like digital video. Special effects look faker, costumes on actors look cheaper, green screen backgrounds stand out, and motion looks cartoonish. If you have a choice, see it in good old fashioned 24 fps 2D. You’ll thank me later.

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14 comments

    • Absolutely! I’ll stop by and take a look. Glad you liked the review. Thank you for stopping in and commenting!

  1. Great review, went to see this and thought it was great. It was a lot better than the first Hobbit movie as well, The Desolation of Smaug was very exciting film, I really enjoyed it.

    • So many went to see the first in HFR and came out of it really underwhelmed. I think regular FPS is the way to go with these VFX heavy epics.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  2. Nice review Vic. I was one of those that hated the first Hobbit film. But I am still keen to check this out (actually heading off to see it in a couple of hours) and it seems most people prefer it to the first. Also, totally there with you regarding HFR. It is absolutely the worst. I saw the first one in HFR cause Jackson was such a massive advocate of it. But I hated it and I think that definitely impacted on my enjoyment of the film. Seeing this second one in good old fashioned slow frame rate 2D.

    • It’s another way for movie studios to somehow differentiate a theater experience from a home experience but it just doesn’t work. Back to the drawing board for some new ideas.

    • Hope you enjoyed it in a normal 2D FR! I’m sure many felt the same way you did about how the first film held up in HFR. I wonder, if now, after all the feedback, Jackson is still so adamant about it.

      Thanks for stopping by and I’m happy you liked Brian’s review!

      • I very much enjoyed it in the standard format. I thought the film was a huge improvement over the first. Great fantasy/adventure flick. I have heard that the HFR has been improved since the last film and no longer looks so terrible. But frankly with so many good films out and the fact it is so long, I am not going to see it a second time to see for myself.

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