The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: A Purist's Review

Discussion in 'New Line Cinema's "The Hobbit"' started by Thorin, Dec 15, 2013.

  1. Thorin

    Thorin LOTR Purist to the end

    Ranking: 4/10


    Well folks, many of you know this is my custom to review the movies like this and has been since they first came out back in the First Age of the Tolkien forum. Before the FADs (Film Adaptation Defenders) come out in full force and knock me for my review, know that I DID give Unexpected Journey 7/10 despite the grievous changes in it. I tried with this one. I really, really tried to separate the book from the movie but I found it impossible to do with DOS compared to UJ. There was so much wrong with this installment that I barely recognized the book short of a few locations and the linear story line. So without further ado, let's get on with it.

    1) Smaug - Looked great, sounded great and said (or said out loud from his thoughts) what Tolkien wrote.
    2) The Spiders of Mirkwood - Looked good even if it didn't follow the book very well.
    3) Fight sequences - Despite that most of them were fabricated, Jackson definitely made them exciting and enjoyable.

    That's about it. Sorry folks but this was even worse than The Two Towers theater version in regards to the LoTR series for a lousy adaptation. There were almost no redeeming qualities to this movie as an adaptation.

    THE BAD - (Oh where do I start?)

    1) Lack of Beorn - You think with all the fleshing out, additions, gratuitous changes that PJ makes to the movies, he would have done it with this. Like the Ents in the theatre version of TTT, Beorn was pretty much useless. I was expecting PJ to have a field day with this, showing him skinning the warg, fighting the goblins and what not. He might as well have not even been there. Definitely dropped the ball on this one and I hope that there is more of him in the EE.

    2) Prolific and gratuitous changes to the Elven kingdom of Mirkwood - From Thorin being captured with everyone else to Thranduil and Thorin both talking about the dwarves' quest and Thranduil offering his help. Sheeesh. That was way too many changes from the book. Nevermind the invention of Tauriel and Kili and her interaction

    3) Lack of Mirkwood time - It was so rushed. Where was Bombur falling in the river and falling under a spell? What about the crashing of the Elves' camps? Jackson whipped through Beorn and Mirkwood with damn near a passing nod just so he could waste half the movie's time in Laketown and extended scenes in Erebor. Which brings me....

    4) Laketown - I understand that having a bit more of a part for Bard is necessary. He really can't just show up out of nowhere to kill Smaug. Wouldn't work from a cinematic point of view. But was damn near an hour of time needed to be spent in Laketown with completely made up events? Kili being wounded and 'dying', having Bard running all over the place, Legolas and Tauriel fighting. Never mind having the orcs attack it. It was just a boring waste of good screen time that could have been used elsewhere.

    5) Kili, Fili, Bofur and (Oin?? - the 'deaf' one) being left behind in Mirkwood and Kili being wounded. Come on...what the hell, PJ....

    6) Orcs and Elves chasing the barrel riders - Despite the exciting fight scenes and seeing Legolas and Tauriel do some great fighting (and of course good old fat Bombur. :D), I felt this was really just Jackson indulging himself. Where was the secrecy? The deception of the Elves by Bilbo and the dwarves?

    7) Erebor - Just when Jackson gets it good with Bilbo and Smaug's palaver, he goes and extends it with complete nonsense and extended footage of Smaug and the dwarves destroying the hell out of Erebor and all the mining materials. The gold statue at the end of that??? What the hell??? That whole section was such an utter travesty of epic proportions. Plain awful

    It is such a pity that Jackson spent damn near over half the movie in two locations (Laketown and Erebor), with so much added fluff and nonsense while places like Mirkwood and the House of Beorn were so grossly neglected.


    1) Tauriel and Legolas - Obviously if there are any elves fighting or taking dwarves captive, Legolas as the prince of Mirkwood would probably have been a part of that. I had no problems with him being there and given a bit part. Even Tauriel as one of the elves of the king's guard didn't bother me so much. They probably gave us some of the most exciting and stylish cinematic fighting out of all PJ's adaptations. Had PJ left it in Mirkwood, it wouldn't have been so bad. But noooooo...he has to have them show up in Laketown to save the day, heal Kili, seduce Kili, and fight orcs that shouldn't have been there to begin with.

    2) Gandalf in Dol Guldur - I know the Council of the Wise does eventually drive the Necromancer out of Dol Guldur and obviously PJ is setting up the army to go to the Battle of the Five Armies (despite the fact that it was goblins from the Misty Mountains and from the North at this battle and not orcs from Dol Goldur) I have no problems with PJ showing HOW this 'driving out takes place' and I know he has to set it up, but I felt Gandalf fighting there and his capture was just plain dumb and stood out awkwardly from the rest of the movie.

    I really felt that Jackson gave WAY too much time in Laketown and Erebor with complete fabrications that the rest of the locations and exciting things that happened there, were basically glossed over. That is Jackson's forte though: Skip Tolkien to add in his own creations. It was just a sloppy handling of the material. Overall, despite what the critics have said comparing the two installments, I felt that Unexpected Journey was a better movie AND adaptation than Desolation of Smaug. I hope PJ does the final installment the justice that the book deserves.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2013
  2. chrysophalax

    chrysophalax Dragon of Note

    "Sorry folks but this was even worse than The Two Towers theater version in regards to the LoTR series for a lousy adaptation."

    Thank you to Thorin for summing up my thoughts in a nutshell about this movie. I was prepared for a fairly big departure from the original material, but wow, this exceeded my wildest fears!

    The Tauriel-Kili thing saw me developing tics right from the off and I really wasn't sure how to react to Thranduil. Yes, he was graceful and handsome. Yes, he was arrogant and above himself. But what was the face disfigurement about? I was both drawn to him and repulsed by him at the same time. Kudos to Lee Pace for creeping me out!

    Smaug, of course, was breath-taking. 'Nuff said!

    It was a little sad that Legolas looked older than his father, at least to my eyes.

    One of the many things that made me go, "hmmmm?" was Tauriel (well, anything to do with a non-existent character, really) healing Kili. A waste of time since he dies later on anyway! Wasn't getting the logic behind that one, I must say.

    Overall, let's just say I'm looking forward to next year, when hopefully PJ will redeem himself.
  3. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon Quality, not Quantity!

    In my ever so humble opinion, Jackson is not, nor has he ever been a fan of Tolkien, he is simply an instrument of the studios whose aim is to generate income. This film seemed doomed from the start to become a romp for idiots (either that or a video game franchise), nothing more. It was genuinely terrible and much of it was too awful to watch. Smaug the 'Golden', dear me.
  4. BelDain

    BelDain The Faithful

    ...Legolas battling Bolg in Esgaroth...
    horrible adaptation, not a very good movie in general, what a massive disappointment
  5. crabby

    crabby Registered User

    i would echo some of the criticism of the film - too much laketown, not enough Beorn etc... but i have some sympathy with PJ when it comes to the Elves, and to the Dwarves, who - and who's stories - he has changed significantly in the Hobbit movies from the book: if he follows the book he has comic Dwarves who are more garden Gnome than Dwarf - coloured hats, no plan, and bumbling incompetance - and the Elves are just singing fairies, all twinkle dust, nice bread and singing. the problem PJ has is that these traits don't match the same peoples traits in LOTR just 80 years later - he either changes the story and produces Dwarves and Elves that fit with the LOTR versions, or he produces a story which is radically different from the tone of the LOTR stories.

    the truth is that the purists are a pretty small proportion of the population - he either offends the purists, or he makes 80% of his customer base say 'WTF?' - when it costs $600 million to make the three films, he has to make a film that won't just appeal to 90 people on the internet.

    i enjoyed the films, they are - for me - just another version of the hobbit, in the same way that i get one 'version' if i read the book on a grassy hill on a warm summers day looking out over Herefordshire, but a very different 'version' if i read it on a winters night with the rain lashing against the windows and a fire crackling away.

    i prefer PJ's Dwarves - and Elves - and i prefer Tolkiens Beorn, Spiders, and Laketown...
  6. Erestor Arcamen

    Erestor Arcamen Archivist Staff Member

    I really really went into this movie, knowing full well PJ was going to massacre the original story, but expecting a decent movie all the same. After seeing the original LOTR trilogy and how much it was changed from the story, and understanding that a book can't be 100% adapted in most cases, I didn't expect this movie to be that bad. But it seemed way too rushed.

    I really am not going to go into specifics for what I hated because I just really hated this movie. I mean as I said above, I knew PJ would change things, but I didn't know he would change things THAT much, it was just ridiculous. From the existence of Turiel to visiting the Witch King's grave chamber thing (which we knew was coming from the way it was brought up in the first film). I did like the way Gandalf fought Sauron, I thought that was cool even if it wasn't in the book, though PJ likes to get Gandalf captured a lot it seems, maybe he'll talk to a moth again to get free.

    All in all, if you're a Tolkien purist, you really won't enjoy this movie. I talked to a lot of people I know who have never picked up the books and they loved it, but pretty much everyone I know who's read the book really didn't like it at all.
  7. Troll

    Troll Lorekeeper of Nardor

    I didn't much care for The Hobbit #1, so when my spidey sense tingled about The Hobbit #2 I decided not to see it in theaters. I'm glad I waited to watch it online; I saved myself $10 that I would sorely have wanted back.

    The Hobbit #2 was such utter and disappointing dreck that my girlfriend and I were openly MST3King, starting about 15 minutes into the excruciating and endless runtime. I wasn't expecting anything at all like the book, I just wanted a fun movie, and I was utterly disappointed.

    Just as an idea how low my standards have gotten: earlier that same day, we watched A View To A Kill (James Bond versus Christopher Walken) and I enjoyed it pretty thoroughly.

    I'm definitely not seeing The Hobbit #3 in theaters. Too much other great stuff is coming out this year to bother - Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men: Days of Future Past​...
  8. Erestor Arcamen

    Erestor Arcamen Archivist Staff Member

    What sucks is, even LOTR wasn't THIS bad. So far, the Hobbit is a huge disappointment to me.
  9. Starbrow

    Starbrow Tolkien Fan

    I think what PJ did to The Hobbit was far worse than what he did to LOTR. I tried to seperate the book from the movie while watching The Hobbit, but I just couldn't do it.
  10. Erestor Arcamen

    Erestor Arcamen Archivist Staff Member

    I agree Starbrow. To me, it doesn't seem like he made as many huge/radical changes to LOTR as he did The Hobbit. What with Nazgul buried in underground tombs and dwarves and elves romancing and bringing a dead orc back to life as a protagonist. I know he made changes to LOTR and omitted a lot but it was still closer to the books than The Hobbit is.
  11. Rilien

    Rilien Registered User

    This wasn't a movie. It was a video game. I fully expected to see point values flashing above all the killed orcs ("50!" "100!" "1,000!"). The fight scenes were so ridiculously video gamish that I never feared for any of the non-orc characters. It's pretty clear that Jackson's orcs can't fight at all, and are great at getting killed very easily, and thus aren't very scary or intimidating.

    And geez, an elf-dwarf love triangle. Actually, that was scary (and creepy).

    One of the (many) things I like about Tolkien's writings is the way he doesn't go into minute detail when describing all the evil stuff. He leaves lots of room for the reader's imagination to shape things. One of the reasons Sauron is such an effective symbol of evil in the books is because we never really actually SEE him. Peter Jackson insists on showing EVERYTHING. In the movies, suddenly Sauron isn't so sinister and menacing, the way he was in the books.
  12. dapence

    dapence Administrator Staff Member

    As some may know, I've had a GREAT MANY issues with Peter Jackson's shredded CliffsNotes version of "The Lord of the Rings". Somewhat interesting because CliffsNotes is owned by Houghton Mifflin.

    That be as it may, I actually did not have that many problems with Jacksons take on "The Hobbit." I sort of understand his wanting to up the scale from a children's book to that of "The Lord of the Rings" ... something Tolkien actually comment on in comparing the two works.

    Yes, there are a fair number of alterations in the storyline, but in my opinion, "The Hobbit" allows for more ambiguity than "The Lord of the Rings." Legolas could have been moping around Thrandui's caves when Thorin & Company paid a visit ... that sort of thing.

    Of course, my main reason for any support of Peter Jackson's adaptations of Tolkien's work is due to their ability to get kids (and adults) to read Tolkien's works for themselves, and thus find out how the true stories played out.

    Simple though my site at may be, I am able to track this kind of information. I have seen very few of Jackson's LOTR movies sell, and "The Hobbit" discs peaked shortly after their release. The books though have been going out at nearly the same pace as when the site went up in 1998.

    There. That's my two cents.

  13. Sulimo

    Sulimo Registered User

    Hi everyone. I just went to see the movie Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend, which was awesome. However, while I was there I happened to catch a trailer for the new Hobbit movie Battle of Five Armies. It looked awful in all honesty. I was hard pressed to even find a hobbit in the trailer. I felt like I was playing Where's Waldo trying to find a Hobbit, a wizard, a dwarf..., amongst elves, orcs, and men. It is actually sad for me because I at least remember watching the trailers for the other films, and predicting what scenes came from what parts of the books, but with this one it appeared to me that maybe 20% of the trailer was even in the book (that may be slightly exaggerated).

    However, while I do agree with dapence's comment that if the movies are bringing new readers to the books, at the very least they are accomplishing something. I have to personally disagree with the allowance of more ambiguity in the Hobbit. There is something unique and special about The Hobbit story that transcends age. I was a Tolkien snob for many years, and was very dismissive of the Hobbit for a long time, but it has taking me years to really appreciate this masterpiece. I think by changing the fundamental nature of what this story was about (coming of age of Mr. Bilbo Baggins) it takes every bit of the magic, and power out of the story. Jackson's series goes from having a potential for greatness to a less then mediocre boring action movie. Making it a little better then Avatar, and a fair amount better the Matrix Reloaded. Sorry for the soap box, that trailer really irked me, and if I said anything to my wife she would just roll her eyes. Thanks TTF for providing a wonderful vent.
  14. Aldanil

    Aldanil mad about mallorn

    An Enormous Steaming, Stinking Pile of . . .

    Gold coins and treasure, that's what you thought I was talking about, right? A hot mist rising from the Dragon's nostrils, the great hoard suffused with the stench of the sleeping Worm, gems and goblets gleaming in the sulfurous reek; that's what the title-line's referring to, surely!

    Well, NO. As you may already have guessed ("and stop calling me Shirley!"), 'tis another sort altogether of malodorous heap that's assailing my NPW nose, and most foul is its fetor. What a bloated, preposterous, tedious movie! What an exercise in feckless self-indulgence! What a rancid fiasco!

    Didn't much care for the film, if you follow my drift, and I seem to be in good company. Rilien cuts to the quick of PJ's malady; an old acquaintance, dread Ancalagon puts his claw right on the point; Troll (whom I'd not encountered before, although it has been years since I've much frequented the Forum) was reluctant as I was to waste the price of a theater ticket, and with eminent sense, as last Saturday night's "debut" on HBO amply demonstrated. Like the noble Thorin who first spun this thread, I find myself somewhat at a loss as how best to begin: there's just soooo much that's awful!

    I've asserted elsewhere, in discussing The Lord of the Rings, that whatever (considerable) merit those movies have comes direct from John Ronald, and not from the director -- nor the screenwriters either, by Eru! In the case of The Hobbit, the distorting proportion of adulterated/odious/implausible nonsense to Tolkien's original material is much more pronounced (or badly slurred), and the predictable result is depressingly wretched -- and often, on a deeper level of narrative, boring!

    Alas (or happily, sayeth the short-winded reader), I'm older and somewhat less feisty than once I was, and since the salary involved is hardly worth the trouble of too thoroughly sifting a dunghill, I'll be content for the nonce to pick just a handful of nits, among dozens. I'm askin'!

    Thorin: "This is no chance meeting, is it?"
    Gandalf: "No, it is not."
    Aldanil: "WTF, PJ?"

    Does every Wingnuts Over Middle-earth movie have to feature an extry-special spectacular Orc as a central character, with plenty of lines and extended close-ups? (In this case, evidently some other Azog than the one famously slain by Dain Ironfoot at the Battle of Azanulbizar 142 years earlier.) Does a stylist's razor maintain the fresh look of those scars? And what's up with that arm-fork? Cartoonish malevolence enhanced with reconstructive surgery, or a subtle homage to Captain Boomer of the SAMUEL ENDERBY? [Who?]

    Just how many tiny cathedral-doored jail cells did Thranduil have installed in his palace, anyway? What are they used for when they're not imprisoning individual Dwarves? And who/what are those faceless, hulking figures in armor standing around for? (Besides keepin' it creepy . . .)

    A Dwarvish Windlance?? Really?! The weapon-smiths who designed and built that marvel (and then donated the thing to the Lord of Dale, for some reason) must have smelled Smaug a-coming really a loooong way off! "Windlances of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!"

    Does Aiwendil/Radagast really love the little birds so much that he wants them to **** in his hair? How does the guano not run down into his eyes?

    To my writerly sensibility, the asterisks inserted by the Forum's apparently automatic obscenity filter are far more emphatic than the feebler synonym I first attempted to use as a substitute.

    Where did the Orcs leave their trusty Wargs tied up while they were rampaging through the alleys and over the rooftops of Laketown?

    "Sit. Sit! Good boy! Stay. Sit! Stay!"

    Why do only some, or any, of the Dwarves have Irish accents? Since the skin-changer sounds to hail from Scandinavia, shouldn't his name be "Bjorn"?

    I could go on (and on), and may, if the bilious humour moves me later, but no further questions at this time, your honor.

    It's hardly Orlando Bloom's fault, of course (not being immortal), but Legolas really shouldn't look older than he will eighty years later.
    Tres cool although the man is, three seconds of Stephen Colbert rocking an eye-patch is not worth three hours enduring this movie.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2014
  15. Thorin

    Thorin LOTR Purist to the end

    Re: An Enormous Steaming, Stinking Pile of . . .

    Why thank you Aldanil. Noble. I like to think so. It's good to see some old faces back on here!

    Your second comment had me chuckling. Apparently PJ et al. want us to believe the Elves imprison Dwarves as a regular occurrence.

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