Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review or Why The Desolation of Smaug Represents Everything Wrong With the Filmmaking Industry Today

After seeing the Desolation of Smaug I came up with one thing, the entire movie seemed like what would happen if you let Zach Snyder get his hands on a Middle Earth movie.  The Desolation of Smaug is an overbloated action piece that only exists to give Jackson a giant CGI toybox that he can use to make another mountain of cash off of.  The Jackson who once had respect for the source material, who cared about the characters and how to develop them, and who tried fervently to create the best film possible is no more, he is now washed in his own corrupt, greedy, ego feeding only off of the new Hollywood blockbuster trend of, "Bigger is better".  While the Hobbit the Desolation of Smaug has some impressive CGI and visuals, that is all the film can boast, as it is the pure definition of what is wrong with most Hollywood movies today, in that it is completely style of substance.

Before I go further in my rant, let me first make it clear, the acting in this film was perfectly fine, the screenplay wasn't all that bad (despite the fact there were barely any actual lines due to the fact is was all covered in over the top action sequences), and the VFX was fantastic.  Honestly, Smaug was created extremely well and was one of the best CGI pieces out there.  Also, the action (despite the overabundance of it) was entertaining and well shot at many points, and so from judging the action scenes alone (despite their negative effect on the film as a whole) they were well done.  

Now to the rant, first off it is clearly evident with this film that Jackson no longer has any respect for Tolkien's work, because he pretty much re-writes Tolkien's story as if he has a better one to tell (and let me spoil it for you right now, he doesn't).  There is one thing to make changes to the source material in order to make it a better screen adaption, it is another thing to change the source material because you don't have enough to make 3 movies and you need to pander to the action-craving demographic that eats up movies like Man of Steel and Transformers.  Jackson takes all of the plot points from the Hobbit, and he either scraps them in favor of adding scenes of Legolas shooting dwarves, changes them, or he takes them and tries to stretch them into 20 minute action sequences that are repetitively familiar of the last action sequence you just saw.  There is no build up, none of the action scenes are deserved, and all of the charm of the original story is stolen and replaced by giant CGI action pieces, the Middle Earth of the original trilogy is barely even recognizable.

I also found it peculiar that the film is called the Hobbit, but when I watched this movie there was barely any Bilbo to be found.  Jackson takes the title character and completely gives him the shaft in order to make way for the characters that can do the most action stunts and look cool while doing them.  Obviously a tale about a Hobbit getting thrown into an adventure and having to learn to step up and be a hero isn't compelling enough for a movie, and so Jackson wisely turned the film into Legolas and Friends: No Hobbit to be Found.  Honestly, by the time they get up to the Lonely Mountain with Smaug I was nearly surprised to see Bilbo go up and do his scene with Smaug because he had been pretty much absent for the majority of the movie (besides two heroic moments which had no build up and were quickly over shadowed by Legolas shooting his bow, and the dwarves hacking and slashing through the Orcs that will just never go away), to bad the Dwarves had to all show up and start another 30 minute action scene with Smaug where Bilbo once again gets the shaft to Thorin.

Another problem with the film is how, because of all the large scale battles with Orcs that just seem to never stop, there are no character arcs, hell there is barely even a story arc.  Nearly every character within the film stays stagnant, the closest thing to character development was Kili and Tauriel which was burdened by the fact that it was all development for a cheesy love triangle that makes absolutely no sense in world of Middle Earth.  You could also make an argument that Thorin starts to get a bit corrupt in this movie, but even with that he still seems exactly like the same Thorin you saw at the start of the movie.  The biggest character problem had to be with Smaug, and that is because of the inconsistency of Smaug's persona.  During the first scene you see Smaug (with only Bilbo) the scene is done brilliantly (surprisingly the best scene in the entire movie by far is the only scene that is actually done mostly how Tolkien originally wrote it, and doesn't use action to keep your suspense and focus, think of that) and Smaug is genuinely intimidating, creepy, and very crafty with his tongue, he is the dragon of the Hobbit book.  Then the character of Smaug takes a complete 180 when the Dwarves show up for a 30 minute action sequence with him, he becomes a big lumbering, idiotic, cartoon oaf that can be driven out of the mountain (that he had once taken from an army of Dwarves and men) by 8 dwarves and a hobbit (yes, 8 dwarves, because Jackson thought he'd be clever and change the story so there could be 4 dwarves and 2 elves in Lake Town to fight some Orcs so you could get some more action with your action).  The character of Smaug is disgraced by this sequence and it serves absolutely no purpose to the story arc other to be a way to end the film with a fight.

The entire movie is a showcase of CGI and ego of Peter Jackson, there is no more integrity in creating a good story, just a greedy man who truly believes he can do no wrong.  The Desolation of Smaug represents everything wrong with the filmmaking business today entirely, you see the expansion (turning what should have been 1 maybe 2 movies into 3) of a film to create more money, the overuse of CGI and style while completely forgetting the characters and story the action is supposed to serve, the taking of a loved source material and paying no respect to it in order to turn it into the most profitable, franchiseable product they can muster.  There are no more blockbusters anymore that are created by a director in order to make a good movie and leave it at that, there are just greedy corporate heads trying to milk every name for all it's worth, and if it happens to churn out a good product than so be it.  The quality of the commercial blockbuster is no longer important, creating characters that matter is no longer important, nearly all of the big-budget movies have become factory made products by studios.  I firmly believe if Tolkien were here to see what Jackson has done to the Hobbit (by turning into a commercial action franchise with about as much effort put into it as your average Transformers movie) there would be no approval, but sadly all he can do is roll in his grave at the atrocity Jackson has committed.

3/10 Sticks of Bamboo


  1. Thank you for summing that up! Exactly! The movie was so bad, I cried. What a disappointment.

  2. Yes and yes to everything you said. I posted my own review over here and as I read yours I thought several times "Dang, wish I'd said that."

    I can live with the cheesy love triangle a little more than I can with endless orc-fights only because maybe 90 seconds of screen time was spent on it, and sometimes Jackson "kids" his source material successfully. Plus, hey, hot dwarf, if you find you're watching a crap adaptation, at least the girls get eye candy. But yeah, when did this become a story about stunt fighting by ninja elves?