Well, I finally watched Desolation of Smaug, the second in the three-part movie version of Tolkien's, The Hobbit.
Let me begin by saying I love The Hobbit, it's one of my favorite books of all time—not surprisingly, and for very good reason—and I'm beyond happy that Peter Jackson has followed up his success in The Lord of the Rings to give this tale a place in the cinematic world. I'm grateful to him. There's a part of me that says he can do no wrong, but that's not true. And, to be honest, Desolation of Smaug shows this very fact.
The movie was good. It was enjoyable. There were parts which had me on the edge of my seat, parts that had me ooh-ing and aah-ing, parts that grabbed my heart and refused to let go. But on the whole, it was a good movie. Not a great one. It was...okay.
I know what people are thinking: Here comes another rant about Tauriel. Actually, I have no issue with this character's involvement. After all, what female characters are in the original story? We needed one somewhere, and can you imagine the outrage if you made one of the dwarves a girl??? (That's a joke, as I really can't see them doing that.) Legolas was, yes, a stretch—and the fact that Orlando Bloom is so much older now didn't help matters. Also, his eyes...what was with his freaky eyes???
Smaug did not disappoint. An excellent dragon, beautifully crafted by the wizards of the digital world. (And Cumberbatch's voice made the character.)
Character building in this part of the story was also well done. Especially with the dwarves and most notably Thorin, Fili and Kili. (But of course, we all know the reason for that, right?) Even in reading the book, you get lost among the dwarvish company, trying to remember who is who. The same can be said for the movies, but in the second installment, you can really see some of the dwarves stepping out of the background and becoming characters all of their own.
As in the first film, we get to see some of Thorin's—arguably the hero of the whole story—flaws as a character. His greed, true to his ancestors, is his downfall and he also has a habit of looking down on others, but once they've proven themselves, he honors them. I've always loved Thorin, and the film version of him is no exception.
The downsides: The Hobbit, remember, is a children's story and, one would think, should be treated with a more light-hearted attitude than the Trilogy. Instead, Jackson seems to be trying to duplicate the original Trilogy by making The Hobbit as “epic” as he possibly can. But it doesn't need to be “epic”. The Hobbit is the simple, sweet story of Middle-Earth. It's the Adventure. It is the story of the Hobbit himself, of a quiet person who is thrown into a quest to slay a dragon and win some gold. And even though all this with the Necromancer was going on at the same time, it's not actually part of the story, and adding it to the movie does make the story darker.
Oh, and I would have appreciated more of Beorn. The movie makes him out to be much more threatening and unpredictable as I ever remember in the book.
As for my favorite part of the movie? Bard. Hands down, it was Bard.
(Even though he resembles Will Turner just a tad too much for my tastes...)
(See what I mean?)
I love Bard—again, I always have. I wanted the book to show more of him, and I'm especially glad that the movie does.
(Also, the scene where Bilbo climbs above the canopy of Mirkwood is beautiful. Perfect.)
Avoiding spoilers, that's all I can say. It was a good movie, but not a fantastic one, and certainly not the best rendition of the book. (While I'm not as much a purist as some, I am of the opinion that if you're making a book into a movie you should...you know, make the movie as much like the book as possible.) I think “PJ” has become very fond of his own version of Middle-Earth, and a better foundation in Tolkien's original work would suit us all a lot better.
I am still grateful for everything Jackson has done for the Tolkien following and I am looking forward to the last installment of The Hobbit films. And yes, I plan on owning them all someday.