Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Desolation of the Hobbit - Movie Review

My initial thoughts regarding the latest chapter in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy can be summed up in the following question: "Was this based off the book?" It appears that the desire for non-stop action and adventure won over a more faithful adaptation of the children's story.

While entertaining and full of action sequences that rival The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a movie that boldly departs from Tolkien's light tale of a burglar and a company of dwarves. In a certain sense it would have been better to title the movie simply "Desolation of Smaug" rather than put name of "Hobbit" on such a film that is focused entirely on fantastical action sequences.

Orcs In the Morning...Orcs in the Evening

One surprising addition that I was not prepared for was an overabundance of orcs. I agree with reviewer Steven Greydanus and I too was sick of orcs by the end. You see your fair share of orcs and they appear everywhere; even in the most unlikely of places. In a book that rarely has an encounter with an orc before the battle of the Five Armies, it is surprising to see so many evil and disgusting creatures climbing everywhere. It appears that Peter Jackson desired to build up the suspense in Tolkien's children's tale and to give the orcs more opportunities to get their heads chopped off.

Greed Overtakes All

The one highlight of the whole film is that it shows what happens to anyone who desires wealth and prosperity too much.  Many characters seek only to appease their lust for things that glitter and are overtaken by their greed. This does not bode well and clouds the judgement of even Thorin, who is ready to sacrifice Bilbo to secure his coveted Arkenstone. This greed is often called the "dragon sickness" and is featured in Tolkien's original story as well. Tolkien knew that an unhealthy desire for wealth and power was never a good thing and witnessed world events that displayed the fruits of it. I was glad to see this featured in the movie and was needed in order to give the movie any moral power.

The Desolation of the Hobbit

In the end, the latest chapter of the Hobbit movies shares little with the book that it is supposedly based on. As a result, it loses much of its uniqueness and charm. Instead of being a story that displays the valor, courage and wit of a hobbit turned burglar, it focuses entirely on the gold-lust of a dwarf-king intent on revenge. There is little light in this dark film and I only hope that the next installment can restore what was lost in the Desolation of Smaug.

Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 
All things said it was an entertaining film, though it needed to have more story and less action.

Tolkien faithfulness rating: 1 out of 5
However, if a person has any familiarity with the book, they will quickly notice Peter Jackson's departures from the book.

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