Peter Jackson continues making movie history with the second installment of an epic trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
Of all the things that one can say about Peter Jackson, un-prolific is certainly not among them. Regardless of whether one is a diehard Tolkien book fan or just a regular movie fan, they will certainly appreciate the scope and size of the films that Peter Jackson has created. From the Lord of the Rings movies, to The Lovely Bones, Peter Jackson’s visionary films are landmarks in the timeline of modern film history.
As a film major, I can now really appreciate the scope and magnitude it takes to create a film like The Hobbit. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people worked on the film for millions of hours combined; CGI, costume, set design, all were the product of Peter Jackson’s ambition and dream to create a movie so larger-than-life that the only other series that can compare are Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Before I begin to wax too poetic about my love for big action movies, here is the breakdown of why I liked The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
One of the crowning achievements of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogy is the visual effects. Visual effects have come a long way since the beginning of the 21st century, and Peter Jackson has certainly helped it along. In fact, new computer special effects programs (most notably, MASSIVE, by Stephen Regelous) were created specifically for the making of Lord of the Rings. The VFX team working on the Hobbit is no different; they continue to push the boundaries of digital creations, wowing the audience with magical sequences of beautiful landscapes and impossible formations.
Monster CGI aside (which in itself was terrifyingly well done), one of the most beautiful scenes in the movie showed Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) sitting atop a bright orange tree, with vibrant blue butterflies fluttering around him. Having taken an animation class before, I truly pay my respects to the animators who undoubtedly slaved away for hours on that sequence, trying to perfect it.
The second point I want to highlight about the movie is the storyline. Now, I realize that the people who have read the books are likely to disagree with me on this point. The truth of the matter is that while I know Peter Jackson added a lot of previously non-canon compliant details to the movie, I wasn’t bothered by it. In fact, I thought that the story pacing of this film was a lot better than The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The first one didn’t have much substance to it until the end; the beginning was a lot of establishing plot, and it took about 30 minutes before Bilbo even left the house to start the adventure. This film was a lot better in that it started and ended with continuous adventure throughout.
The one aspect of the film that I did not enjoy (SPOILER AHEAD) is the awkward elf-elf-dwarf love triangle. While I can appreciate the sentiment and the additional layer of emotional complexity, The Hobbit has only ever been a romantic novel in the classical, swashbuckling sense of the word. I really disapproved of the addition of the extraneous romance triangle.
Lastly, I want to briefly touch on the acting in the film, because Martin Freeman’s performance was golden. I first had the pleasure of watching him as John Watson in Sherlock, and there’s something about his hard sarcasm and faked choleric temperament that is perfect for the character of Bilbo. He brought a lightness and comedy to the character that would otherwise have not been there, and would have otherwise made the film feel a lot different than it did. In the Lord of the Rings, these comedic moments were brought by the repeated banter between Legolas and Gimli over how many orcs they killed in battle; in The Hobbit, it is less banter and more of Bilbo’s under-reactions to the dramatically life-threatening situations that they are thrown into. Martin Freeman started as a comedic actor (in Ali G, alongside Sacha Baron Cohen), and I’m glad that he’s never lost his sarcasm and wit in playing Bilbo.
All in all, movies like The Hobbit are exactly what current audiences are looking for – an interesting, beautifully shot action movie that has multiple layers, allowing the audience to delve as shallowly or deeply into the world of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien as they please.
- Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Armitage
- Directed by: Peter Jackson
- Running Time: 2hr 41min
- Genre: Fantasy, Adventure