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23 September 2014 @ 07:22 pm
The Desolation of Smaug  
That was a distinctly odd viewing experience.

Taken by its own lights The Desolation of Smaug is a perfectly reasonable fantasy film. It's a little too fond of its action sequences but that's true of most such movies so, you know. I just couldn't help wondering half way through, why Peter Jackson was making The Hobbit when he obviously wasn't interested in making The Hobbit?

For all their flaws, you can tell that Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies are attempting to stay true to the spirit of the original (albeit as perceived by Jackson et al) and care is being taken to reproduce all the iconic moments.

The Desolation of Smaug, even more so than whatever the first one was called, drastically trims much of the material in the book, if it is not radically altering it. At one point we were wondering how Jackson could possibly extend the book to three movies if he was pruning quite so viciously - only to have an entirely new sub-plot about Laketown politics thrown at us.

I've nothing against the Laketown politics, they are quite interesting in their own right, but at the end of day it felt like Jackson wanted to make a movie about elf/dwarf/human politics and wasn't really interested in anything else that was going on the book.

I went googling to see what other people thought and was most struck by a comment in (I think a Telegraph) review, which observed that Jackson really wanted to make a prequel to his own Lord of the Rings movies, not The Hobbit. Viewed through that lens, The Desolation of Smaug is doing its job in a slightly long-winded way, but it is a lot further from The Hobbit itself than his Lord of the Rings movies were from their originals.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/127940.html.
wellinghallwellinghall on September 23rd, 2014 06:39 pm (UTC)
That comment sums it up rather well, I think.
louisedennis: tolkienlouisedennis on September 23rd, 2014 06:44 pm (UTC)
In retrospect, considering the tonal differences between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings it was possibly odd to expect Jackson (who has a flair for the grandiose and the dramatic) to make as good a job of the The Hobbit which is far more whimsical and domestic.
wellinghallwellinghall on September 23rd, 2014 06:45 pm (UTC)
As you say. Hindsight is always 20/20.
Susanlil_shepherd on September 23rd, 2014 06:43 pm (UTC)
I am hoping that some fan or other will cut out all the extraneous stuff and make the 2 hour movie of 'The Hobbit.' I have not seen 'The Desolation of Smaug' because I saw the first one and came very close to walking out. Jackson, like Nolan, will not kill his damn babies. Furthermore, in the first movie everyone seemed to be pretty much immortal and the dwarves were interchangeable (except for Thorin and Balin - and even the two pretty ones were sort of interchangeable with each other.) And some of the FX was dire. Also, I got vertigo in 2D. *sigh*

I may buy it if it hits three quid.
louisedennis: tolkienlouisedennis on September 23rd, 2014 06:50 pm (UTC)
If you mean cut the extraneous stuff out of Jackson movies then you will hope in vain because, while adding in loads of extra stuff in he has also trimmed out a great deal - the meeting with Beorn is reduced down to virtually nothing, Mirkwood appears to take about 24 hours to traverse (plus no elvish parties), there is no exploring the Mountain or waiting for days on the doorstep (though the thrush does at least get to knock and I was worried for a moment it wouldn't), Bilbo does not spend weeks exploring Thranduil's palace and cooking up a plan, nor does he carry messages between Thorin and the other dwarves. Actually by the end of this movie Bilbo had yet to tell the dwarves about the ring.

I could go on, but you get the drift. To actually get The Hobbit you would need to put back a whole load of stuff and shift the tone.

Interchangeable dwarves though, are hardly Jackson's fault. With the exception of Balin, Bombur and Thorin the dwarves in the books are pretty interchangeable (Fili and Kili stand out but are indistinguishable from each other).
Susanlil_shepherd on September 23rd, 2014 07:04 pm (UTC)
You see, I'm not particularly concerned about changes to the book, in which I am not invested (and I approved of quite a lot of Jackson's changes to LotR because they made more dramatic sense than JRRT's version - at least until RotK, when, in the theatrical version, he ought to have cut the opening scene - which is just there to massage Serkis's ego - put scene at Isengard in its place, and finish the movie at the wedding.) Films have different demands than books. However, the first movie is far too long for its content and I suspect the other two movies are exactly the same.