Posted on Friday, December 13th, 2013 by David Chen
With the next 2.5 hour iteration of The Hobbit (see Germain’s review) now hitting theaters amidst a wave of non-stop publicity and hype, it’s easy to forget how awe-inspiring Peter Jackson’s original Lord of the Rings trilogy was, both critically and commercially. Back in 2003, Return of the King scored a whopping 94% on Rottentomatoes, made over a billion dollars at the box office and won all 11 Academy Awards for which it was nominated,
This week, as I crammed myself into an outlandishly packed screening of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, I realized that for me, and for a few other critics, these films have lost their feeling of wonder and anticipation. And I began to think: why did this happen? I try to explore this in this week’s video essay reviewing the film. Check it out after the jump.
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Minor spoilers for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug follow.
Orcs have always been a primary obstacle to progress in Middle Earth. As Frodo travelled to Mount Doom, Orcs kept trying to kill him and his friends. The same goes for Bilbo in The Hobbit. The disgusting creatures are all over the lands of Middle Earth, with a thirst for dwarf and hobbit blood. In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the Orc leader was Azog the Defiler, a particularly large, treacherous white Orc brought to the screen with computer graphics.
As The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug begins, Azog is given a new task and his son Bolg takes over the job of tracking down Thorin Oakenshield and the dwarves company that is en route to the Lonely Mountain. Bolg is also CG, but his foot soldiers are practical, just like the Orcs of Lord of the Rings.
That’s the backstory; now to get to the point. In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, both Azog and Bolg are CG while the others Orcs are actors in practical makeup. But director Peter Jackson originally filmed Bolg in live action on set, and a photo has now shown up online. Check it out below. Read More »
Right around the time of Comic-Con 2012, Peter Jackson and his team decided The Hobbit was going to be three movies instead of two. Originally, the movies were called The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There And Back Again, but when another movie was added the third movie took the title of the second and the second one was named The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It’s in theaters now.
Obviously a third movie completely changed how Jackson and fellow writers Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh had to structure the films. Jackson has now revealed where the initial split between the two films would have occurred. Read More »
The second of Peter Jackson‘s trilogy of films adapting The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug, both improves on the previous film, and regresses from some of its achievements. In 2012’s An Unexpected Journey, Jackson stretched the story of The Hobbit to a breaking point. Sequences that were mere blips in the book became much longer, hurting the pacing immensely. At the start of this second film, Jackson picks up the pace considerably and, in just over an hour, our characters are at their final destination: The Lonely Mountain. Unfortunately, there’s still an hour and a half to go (plus another movie) which means that briefly improved, upbeat pace comes to a screeching halt. Plus that rushed first hour glosses over some of the most famous scenes in J.R.R. Tolkien‘s book.
Besides the major pacing problems, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has lots of good things going for it, including more rousing action, great performances by new characters, and several beautiful new settings. But all of those don’t save the film from being considerably divisive.
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Considering there’s another film set for release in 2014, it’s no spoiler to reveal The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ends on a massive cliffhanger. It also ends very close to the end of J.R.R. Tolkien’s narrative of The Hobbit, which means unless There And Back Again is 20 minutes long, it’ll be stuffed with new narrative linking Peter Jackson‘s current trilogy with the Lord of the Rings.
Recently, one of the film’s stars teased the press by saying the character of Legolas (Orlando Bloom) would be the main link between the trilogies. Jackson also explained how he justified putting that character, which isn’t in The Hobbit novel, into the film by giving a brief Tolkien history lesson. Read More »
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Things are about to get all Hobbit up in here. A week from today, fans will be piling into theaters to watch the second film in Peter Jackson‘s Hobbit trilogy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Reviews come out this weekend, interviews will be published, it’s all about to get nuts with the film so close to release.
Seems like the perfect time to Jackson to release the 13th installment in his running Hobbit video diary. This one shows lots of behind the scenes action of this second film, including filming the scenes with Smaug, the character’s look and much more. There’s even some Benedict Cumberbatch in there! Check it out below. Read More »
The first trailer for Peter Jackson‘s second Hobbit film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, answered one of everyone’s biggest questions about the sequel. Would Jackson’s second film get us all the way into the Lonely Mountain and reveal Smaug, the malicious and greedy dragon at the end of the Dwarves quest? The title suggested it but the trailer confirmed it. Bilbo’s interactions with the dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) responsible for forcing the dwarves out of their home are some of the most memorable and tense ones in the book. However, the first film didn’t give us much idea of what Smaug looked like and the trailer only showed us his head. Would audiences see Smaug for themselves before the film opened on December 13?
That answer has been revealed in the most unexpected of places. Smaug has been revealed on the side of some Air New Zealand planes, a company with a long history of collaboration with Jackson and the franchise. Check it out below. Read More »
Typically it can be considered a slightly spoilerish endeavor to listen to a film’s score before the movie opens. But most of us are so familiar with what Howard Shore has done for Peter Jackson and Middle-Earth that a new batch of music is more like an extension of what has gone before than an entirely new set of cues. That said, the first Hobbit film was fairly distinct from the Lord of the Rings films, and some of the music for the second movie has it’s own character, too, even as familiar themes and concepts keep it grounded in Middle-Earth.
So while it is a couple weeks yet before the December 13 opening of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, you can spend the Thanksgiving holiday listening to 45 minutes from the score, as an embed has landed online. Read More »
Air New Zealand has long embraced it’s home nation’s relationship with Peter Jackson and his Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. With the release of the next film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, mere weeks away they’ve created a new commercial promoting the country’s tourism with the help of some very familiar iconography. Check it out below. Read More »