News

REVIEW: The Hobbit: The ‘Desolation’ of plot

REVIEW: The Hobbit: The ‘Desolation’ of plot

Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman, confronts the dragon in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." Photo: Associated Press/Warner Bros. Pictures, Mark Pokorny

Genre:  Action, Adventure, Sci Fi, Fantasy | Run Time: 161 min | Rated: PG-13
Director: Peter Jackson | Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Orlando Bloom

By: George Wolf

The fantasy film genre boasts some great sequels, even when those films are little more than bridges from Episode 1 to 3. While the second born may lack closure, it doesn’t bear the burden of exposition that tends to weigh down any first episode, and it lacks the need to tidy up every minute detail that sometimes derails a final installment.

The Empire Strikes Back is the classic example, but the genre offers many others. The Hunger Games sequel, for instance, far surpasses the first. Even the wingnut Peter Jackson’s first Tolkien trilogy offered the swiftly paced and satisfying center, The Two Towers.

His next Middle Earth middle child, the beardtastic The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, hits screens this week, and it, too, benefits from a groundwork set in the first installment, and the freedom to end without tidying up.

And Arkenstone be damned, Ian McKellen is the gem of this franchise. Once again, he brings the right mix of humor and gravitas to make Gandalf the coolest guy – excuse me, wizard – in the realm.

Martin Freeman is also spot-on as Bilbo – a perfect mix of humility, courage, and British manners. His Bilbo is very easy to relate to, which is rarely the case in a Tolkien production. Still, many of the million-ish supporting turns, though universally one-dimensional (regardless of cinematic presentation), animate the tale appropriately.

There’s a lot holding it back, though.

Mainly, it suffers from the same condition as An Unexpected Journey, which is that there is no defensible reason to make three films out of the novel The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings was conceived by Tolkien as a trilogy, where The Hobbit is a single volume, so Jackson had to carve it into three, padding and elongating here and there to accomplish this mission.

Because if there’s one thing Tolkien needs, it’s more stuff.

The needless bloat is an obstacle to enjoying all that’s right about the film, because the story just becomes tedious too soon and too often. The fact that you realize there will be no satisfying conclusion does not make the pace seem any less leaden, and the result feels more like a rip-off than a cliffhanger.

Yes, the dragon looks cool, the Orcs continue to frighten, and as a tourist video for New Zealand, the location shooting works miracles. But many filmmakers, Jackson included, have been devoted enough to the stepping-stone sequel to craft a film that succeeds where the rest of the franchise fails. This time around, Jackson just adds filler and cashes checks.

Verdict-2-5-Stars

Read more movie reviews at MaddWolf.com.

Recent Headlines

in Music

CHART TOPPERS: This week’s top alt tracks

tompetty

LISTEN: This week's top alternative tracks, according to the latest Billboard charts.

in Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: Johnny JamBoogie

18-overlay8

If football doesn't workout, "Johnny Football" always has this to fall back on.

in Viral Videos

Boy’s hilarious reaction to baby news

19-overlay3

This little boy is NOT excited about being a big brother again, but his reaction is priceless.

in Viral Videos

Dad catches daughter taking selfies

11-overlay8

This teenage girl takes more photos of herself in this 58-second video, than you have all year.

in Music

Michael Jackson’s hometown plans three-day birthday bash

FILE - In this March 5, 2009 file photo, Michael Jackson is shown at a press conference in London. Testimony from AEG Live executive Paul Gongaware on his interactions with Jackson and his negotiations with the singer’s doctor dominated the fifth week of a civil case against the company filed by the superstar’s mother, Katherine. On Tuesday May 28, 2013, Gongaware reluctantly acknowledged that he negotiated the $150,000 per month rate that Jackson’s doctor expected to be paid to serve on the “This Is It” tour.

The King of Pop's boyhood home of Gary, Indiana will celebrate this weekend with the Michael Jackson Tribute Festival of the Arts.