Reviews Comments: Okay, Look

Okay, Look
Spoilers.

I see both sides of the argument. People call it too long, too unlike like the book (constituting mostly to the inclusion of the Love Triangle), and too disorganized. On the other hand, people also call it an improvement over the last film, including more action, new characters, and outstanding special effects. Obviously I'm not going to get to touch on everything about this film due to my limited word count, but I'm keeping in mind how controversial these films are in the eyes of the public.

Let's cut to the part that everyone knows. Smaug: Big Bad, Ensemble Darkhorse, Visual Effects of Awesome, Benedict freaking Cumberbatch! I can imagine that a lot of people went to see the movie just to see him, and let me tell you, he was no disappointment. Upon his reveal, everything about him just screamed "worth the wait!". Unfortunately, and I really really really, did not want to admit this, he was on screen way too long. His Badass Boast as featured in the book was really stretching his screen time, and as I've heard it said before, he became more of an effect than a character rather quickly.

But this brings me to a point that I'd like to touch on: the differences between the book and the movie. Book snobs who exist just to point fingers at what the films did wrong should note that I believe the parts in both The Hobbit films that have been accused of biding their time are actually the ones that stay truest to the book. The part where the dwarves run into the mountain to fight Smaug I found to be more interesting than Bilbo just talking to him before he heads off to Laketown, and I also found it more realistic that they would actually try to put up a fight against him rather than let Bilbo face him alone after getting caught for burglary.

The other thing people hate about this film is, of course, the Love Triangle, but I'm not going to touch on that much because I actually liked it and have little information to back me up on my opinion. Overall, the film was better than the first, and had scenes like the spiders and the barrels that were visually stunning and worthy of acclaim. I also enjoyed Gandalf's subplot which connects the story to Lord of the Rings, because it feels like the world actually has consistency unlike most other fictional settings.

Comments

I think a lot of the changes were pretty sensible. Having Gandalf disappear 'just because' whenever the dwarves needed to get into danger and then defeat Sauron off screen would have been terrible, as it would have been if Bilbo talked to the Dragon for a bit whilst the dwarves waited outside and then the Dragon flies off and gets killed by a random extra who we've never seen before. Never mind if the film just had a 'oh and now theirs a big battle that we never mentioned before. Just in time for the climax!'

I even think expanding on Thranduil's character and giving him some more personal stakes is going to pay off the final battle much better than a generic distrust of dwarves would.

The difference between this and the Lord of the Rings films is, we knew everything was going to come together in the end already with LOTR and so nothing felt like a waste of time. It's harder to know that with the Hobbit because we don't know what the last film will look like. (Everything with Laketown was this so much). And of course it annoys the people who were expecting a 1 to 1 adoption.

... The love triangle is the hardest to justify of all the changes though. I didn't mind it that much, I'd even go so far as to enjoy it, but it still felt really out of place to me. It's not that it didn't exist in the books, it's that it involves tones and tropes that don't exist in the Lord of the Rings universe. Tolkien was almost entirely uninterested in the little emotions people feel. He didn't care about meet-cutes and crushes, a Tolkien romance is star-crossed and full of destiny. A Tolkien love triangle involves someone giving over their life in despair, or someone abandoning the lives of their people to consumate a love so powerful it will start a new House of Men that runs true for an entire Age.

The Hobbit is the smallest of all his works, but even then the romance felt so modern in it's patterns and that's just not how LOTR feels.
comment #23120 TomWithNoNumbers 5th Feb 14
That's true, I definitely see what you're saying, but so little romance in real life actually come across this way. It feels more realistic, if not feeling very "Tolkien-ish", but I guess the reason Tolkien created The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings was not to reflect the realism of the world we live in, but to reflect the realism of a world he created, and if everything's going to get as big and epic as the adventures in Middle Earth, I guess the love story would have to feel the same way.
comment #23121 Lucymae2 5th Feb 14
In the books, Bilbo facing Smaug alone was a continuation of Bilbo becoming in general more adventurous and more of a leader. The dwarves send him down alone both because Bilbo is very nearly running the show at this point and because none of the dwarves actually had any idea what they were going to do about Smaug. The movie makes the dwarves the focus, ironically nearly making Bilbo a bit player in his own story.

That's also the problem with the Gandalf scenes. This is Bilbo's story, and what Gandalf is doing really has nothing much to do with it at all, nor does Bilbo have any influence on Gandalf's battle with Sauron. They may tie it all in at the end somehow, since I doubt the third movie will hew any closer to the source material than this one.

One thing I wish the movie had changed was the talking dragon. A talking dragon is OK for a kids story where you don't want anything to be too scary, but a mute, purely animal Smaug is much more terrifying than the witty and refined tea party banter that we got (and to be fair, that Tolkien wrote).
comment #23128 luomo 6th Feb 14
That's true. I wish they would put more focus on Bilbo. He's an all around great character, and after all, the original hobbit. This film put less focus on him than the previous, though I'm sure that'll be fixed by the next movie. I also think that (and I might get called out for this) Bilbo participates more in this adventure than Frodo does in his, especially the movie adaptation of Frodo.

But the thing with the movie adaptation is that I'm pretty sure they're trying to develop the characters more. I realize that the dwarves didn't know what they were sending Bilbo down to face, they even make a point of that in the movie, but when Smaug woke up and started moving around, the dwarves would probably have heard something, and I'd say they would've definitely felt it given how large Smaug is. Going inside emphasizes how desperate they were to reclaim their home and dish out revenge to the one who took it away from them, as well as their desire to protect their friend Bilbo. Yes, this unfortunately steals the spotlight from Bilbo, but then film is trying to give the dwarves their own distinct personality traits, and succeeding with some.

If they did, however, put more focus on Bilbo, then I think Gandalf's scenes would've been better received, because after all, Sauron's sudden rise back to power had to have some sort of build up which isn't really addressed much in the Lord of the Rings movies, and Gandalf's such a Badass that you can expect he'd be on the case. This, as I said in my review, ties the setting of Middle Earth in both trilogies together better, unlike other fictional worlds that are poorly set up. It should also be noted that The Hobbit movies are also partially adapted from the appendices to help accomplish that goal.
comment #23129 Lucymae2 6th Feb 14
I'm angry that the movies never established why The Ring is such a coveted item in the LOTR universe. From what we've seen onscreen, all it does is make you invisible at the cost of blurry color-blind vision. How does that live up to the promise of an ultimate relic of power? I know it's the "one ring to rule them all (referring to the other rings)" which implies the user can do some sort of mind-control on wearers of the lesser rings, but we never see that onscreen. In addition, while I've heard The Ring works best when used by powerful people, Sauran's finger (which had The Ring) was sliced off by a mortal wielding a mortal-forged blade of a non-special metal.

I know this sounds like a headscratcher rather than a review comment, but I'm just complaining on how an important question of mine was not answered in the movie.
comment #23754 Mr.Movie 9th Apr 14
Tolkien doesn't do practical, he does mythological. The ring doesn't make your powerful because it lets you shoot X lightning bolts out of the sky every day, it makes you powerful because it's an artifact an incredible powerful being poured all his malice into.

So there isn't really an explanation of what the ring 'does' because that doesn't fit the style of LOTOR which the writer was absolutely meticulous in creating (for example all the random names seem like weird foreign names to us but they were chosen to create reminders of all sorts of cultural heritages and linguistic connections). It's in the same way that Sauron and Gandalf don't really 'do' magic, they just wield power against each other and the person with the most authority in the world wins out.

The Hobbit isn't actually like that which is an example of the big style shift between the two books. The Hobbit cares about details and less about mythology in many way, so in the Hobbit Gandalf creates and uses particular spells to achieve particular things. The ring has a specific function, the Dragon gets defeated by finding a weak point and hitting it for massive damage (although the Hobbit still isn't an ordinary sort of story so the person who hits it, hits it because his bloodline is true), A lot of the mini adventures are over very small details, like introducing the dwarves to Beorn in pairs, whereas in LOTR the equivalent would be mini stories explaining Faramir's place in the world or King Theodin's history etc.
comment #23755 TomWithNoNumbers 9th Apr 14

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