Posted December 18, 2013 by Flipgeeks Contributors in Movies/TV

“THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG” – A Review from a Casual Tolkien Fan and First time IMAX viewer

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” – A review from a casual Tolkien Fan and First time IMAX viewer

hobbit review posterSome SPOILERS ahead !!! — A few days ago, I had the honor of being one of the first people to witness the Philippine premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (read our official review here).  Being a casual LOTR fan, I knew what I was getting myself into in terms of the movie: An amazing sword & sorcery story, vivid action scenes, well written characters, and a really long movie. REALLY long. What I never had any insight on was IMAX. Never seen a single film on it.

So let’s start with the visual aspect of it. Upon entering the cinema, my eyes lay upon a giant white wall, 8 stories high. Nothing new to most moviegoers but it was to me.  While the introductions about the film were being made it was mentioned that we were viewing the film in a different way. The film was made to have a different frame rate than most movies. If I remember correctly it was something called a 64 HFR (Please correct me if I’m wrong). If you’ve ever noticed the fluidity of motion when you’re watching something on an HDTV, imagine that in 3D AND on an IMAX screen. For a movie as EPIC as The Hobbit, the extra immersion that the HFR gives is incredible. Giving you a screen as big as IMAX allows you to zone in on a particular part of a scene. Gives you that extra bit of freedom as a viewer and truly makes you feel as if you’re really observing through a window. The CGI was amazing. The 3D and fluidity of it all made me forget that some parts of the films weren’t real.

Now that the technical aspect of the film has been dealt with, let’s deal with the story itself. I’m a casual LOTR fan so all the twists and turns are all new and unexpected to me. I’m not going to be bashing the film when it comes to accuracy and respect to continuity (I’ll leave that to the diehard fans). I could only really do that for comic book movies. Just a little disclaimer before I start talking about the story (I know enough to say that Legolas had too much of a role in the film though)

I didn’t really expect much from this film. Being the second film in a trilogy, you’d usually expect this to be a build-up towards the last installment. Usually sequels don’t hit the mark for me but surprisingly this one does. The story does an incredible job of tackling the much needed character development and building of momentum. It felt very different from the first film, which felt a bit whimsical and unimportant at times. It was pretty action packed in itself. The story took on much depth and darkness that managed to draw me in as a viewer. If you’re going into this film with a lot of WHY’s and HOW’s that carried over from the last film, this film does a pretty good job of answering those questions and adding that much needed detail.

The fight scenes are great, both with Smaug and everyone else. (That’s all that really needs to be said in the matter)

For me the strength of film lies in the casting. Martin Freeman did an amazing job as our favorite Hobbit (Sorry Merry & Pippin) as he managed to enthrall with a surprisingly different Bilbo. Freeman shows us a Bilbo that’s been influenced by the ONE RING and yet, gives us a preview of the hero that he’s been made out to be in the LOTR films. Richard Armitage does a brilliant job of making Thorin good-natured and well intentioned YET selfish and detestable in some instances. He managed to make a Dwarf king very HUMAN and relatable. My favorite race, the Elves, was a major part in my enjoyment of the film. Lee Pace’s (THE PIEMAKER!) take on the Elf King Thranduil was both pleasant and surprising. Evangeline Lily’s Tauriel provided a much-needed female presence in the film. The role fit her very well and she was captivating (Be still my beating heart.). Even if it felt a bit off, I’m looking forward to her story involving the Dwarves in the next film. Despite the controversial inclusion of Legolas in this film, I actually really enjoyed every scene he was in. The Legolas in this film is a departure from his very soft-spoken self in the LOTR trilogy. Expect to see a younger, more brash and aggressive Legolas in this. The fight scenes with him and Tauriel are the Elven battles that you’ve always dreamt of seeing. I NEED a longer battle with these two in the next film. PLEASE PETER JACKSON. If you’re yearning for a lot of Gandalf in this film, prepare to be disappointed. Although Ian McKellen shines in absolutely every scene, including the ones with Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown (THE DOCTOR!), his story is merely a side quest in this movie as the Dwarves take precedence. I find myself looking forward to the further adventures of Bard, played by Luke Evans, as there is some obvious build that we’ll get to see in the next film. His character provided the foil to Thorin’s perspective on their quest. Stephen Fry is in there somewhere too and that was an amazing surprise.

The only casting problem I have involves the cast member I was looking forward to the most, Benedict Cumberbatch. Though you could tell that Smaug had that deep drawl that belonged to Cumberbatch, it felt as if any other actor with a deep and intimidating voice could’ve done the voicing. I would’ve loved it if a little bit more of Cumberbatch’s personality bled into the character itself. Otherwise, the joy it gives is merely derived from the novelty that comes from seeing Sherlock and Watson argue in a fantasy setting.

Other than that, the only other issues I have involve the eyestrain brought about by the movie and the cutting that was a bit wonky. In other scenes, like one of the scenes in Dol Guldur, there was abrupt cutting that seemed to be very off. I don’t know what that was about. Maybe the production team thought it would go over our heads but to me it was a bit obvious and awkward. Watching the film in such great definition AND in 3D glasses was amazing but you must consider the length of Tolkien movies. I had to gives my eyes a break every so often.

Despite the issues I had with the film, which were very limited anyway, I thought this film was brilliant. It had such a horrible cliffhanger at the end (BECAUSE IT WAS SUCH A GOOD ONE) that makes sure that I’ll be there to see the next one when it comes out.

 Fantastic movie. I’d give it an 8.5/10

Flipgeeks Contributors