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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 18, 2013

The Hobbit- The Desolation Of Smaug – Review - Spectacular Effects But Has A Boring Factor

DIRECTOR PETER Jackson is understandably an icon in New Zealand because of the huge success of his “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

The Rings trilogy is really based on three books that total to 1,200 pages. “The Hobbit”, which Jackson also made into a trilogy, is based on just one book that’s about 320 pages, written by JRR Tolkien in 1937. Of course, they’re doing this only for the profit motive, so they can earn more money from the franchise.

And so, what do you expect? The first “Hobbit” movie, “An Unexpected Journey”, felt unnecessarily long because Jackson was stretching the original material. And that also goes for Part 2, “The Desolation of Smaug”, which has so much “inip” factor. We saw it with our granddaughter Jane and she fell asleep after that fantastic action-filled river chase where the dwarfs are inside barrels and they’re being chased by the Orcs, with Elves Orlando Bloom as Legolas and Evangeline Lilly (of “Lost”) as Tauriel coming along to help them.

Tauriel later gets attracted to the best looking but wounded dwarf, Kili (Aidan Turner). If only the rest of the movie is as energized and as involving as that river sequence, it would have been more engrossing viewing. Instead, the rest of the movie meanders and becomes so inert compared to the entertaining action set piece in the river.

In Part One, their ordeal is to cross the Misty Mountains. Now, in the sequel that needlessly runs for nearly three hours, they have to go through Mirkwood Forest and also face some hostile humans in Laketown before they can go to the Lonely Mountain where they will be facing the gigantic fire-breathing and talking dragon called Smaug (formidably voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch of “Sherlock”) who is awakened from a pile of gold and warns: “A darkness is coming. It will spread to every corner of the land.”

The movie, we should bear in mind, is, more than anything else, a seamless special effects movie and, in that aspect, it succeeds spectacularly. Aside from the ferocious Orcs, the dwarfs have to battle some giant spiders and this sequence is well conceived and executed. The FX used on the dragon is even more amazing. Actually, the characters look like they’re second fiddle to Smaug and the FX people who worked on the entire movie.

But the flow of the narrative is quite cumbersome, like in that scene where they lose the path inside the mysterious forest and it’s only Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman, who’s so good in his role he practically holds the movie together) who goes up a tree to look for the right direction to where they’re going. Then there’s another scene where they have a key to a secret door to enter the mountain that is the dragon’s lair. The problem is that they cannot find the keyhole, so all of them give up, except for Bilbo, who patiently wait until the sun sets and the moonlight shows where the keyhole is located. In other word, you can see all the padding.

The Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) goes on a sidetrip, gets lost and is held captive somewhere along the way, while Thorin Oakenfield (Richard Armitage), whose aim is to revive their Kingdom of Erebor, does nothing much in the movie as Smaug is not yet killed and manages to escape from all of them. Those who like “The Hobbit” now have to wait for the final episode in the trilogy, “There and Back Again” (which seems to suggest that we’ll just be having more of the same), to be released next year to find out what will happen to Smaug.