Movie review: The Hobbit – Desolation of Smaug

ImageLast night I finally got to see the new Hobbit film, Desolation of Smaug – despite not knowing what desolation means (I have a vague idea now), or knowing how to pronounce Smaug (that mystery is solved now). I did know that I like the Lord of the Rings films, and that I very much liked the first Hobbit film.

I went to this movie with high expectations, after all the hype and buzz and the epic tale that was the first movie. Spoiler alert: Desolation of Smaug lived up to ALL its promises and the hype. Every bit of it.  

(WARNING: potential spoilers under the cut. I tried to keep it spoilerfree, but something might have slipped in.)

Let`s start with all the good points:

First of all, this movie is just made of awesome. That`s all. Everyone go home. I`m not even kidding – the level of awesome in this film is making me worried about everything else released from now on, because how are things going to beat this amount of epic? If I were in charge of awards, I`d hand a lot of them (not all, because of Other Movies) straight over to the Hobbit crew and cast.

And oh that cast. We already knew Gandalf and Bilbo and Thorin, of course. But this movie introduces Lee Pace in an absolutely delicious role as Thranduil, the Elven king. Smooth, dangerous, positively frightening and slightly insane, but you can`t help but be intrigued from the moment they start panning over his body in gratuitous shots that I did not mind at all. I was hooked the moment he started talking, the thinly veiled danger oozing off of that deep voice.

Another new character is Tauriel. Played by Evangeline Lilly, Tauriel is unexpected in many, many ways. Did you expect another mysterious Elven lady who speaks in wisdom and riddles? Someone who always seems to shine in the moonlight? The object of desire for the men, and mostly there to add some romance and wisdom-y mystery?

Boy are you wrong. Tauriel is no fair lady, she`s not here to swoon over men. Instead, she fights her way through her life, both literally and figuratively. When she gets told that she can`t have the man she wants, she essentially says “well then screw this” and goes off to disobey all orders and do what she feels is right.

She might well be one of my favourite characters. Ever.

We also finally get to properly meet Smaug in this film. Obviously.I have to admit: I had my doubts about Smaug for a long time. He didn`t look finished in the trailer, though I now understand why. I thought the CGI was failing on us, and that maybe I wouldn`t be able to take Benedict Cumberbatch`s voice serious as the Mighty Dragon.

I was more than pleasantly surprised to see that Smaug was not only very realistically and well done in terms of CGI, but BC`s voice was just distorted enough to make it more believable as a dragon`s voice, and everything worked out great (and terrifying).

Smaug brings me to my final good point (before I end up listing the entire movie): the CGI. Specifically the 3D techniques. I`ve never been a great fan of 3D techniques, I often find them unnecessary and show-offy. But in DoS it somehow worked magnificently. Not only that, I saw a use of 3D I haven`t seen before, so realistic, so actually In Your Face, it felt like a whole new level was reached and everyone else needs to seriously up their game now to keep up.

Still, the CGI also brings me to one my first bad points: as perfect as it was in roughly 95% of the film, the last 5% still needs some fixing. There were a couple of scenes where I cringed with how obvious the CGI was and how much it felt like the scene was still unfinished.

I`m still in doubt about the HFR (High Frame Rate) thing as well. I already noticed this last year, that the sheer clarity of the shots makes it more obviously fake, makes the movie feel more like the set it is, like you`re watching a very detailed theatre. It definitely feels like “look how awesome our techniques are”. While I don`t mind being able to see every raindrop fall into a puddle on a street, it also takes away some of the romanticism of movies for me, and makes it feel more like a documentary.

Finally: yes, we know Legolas has very blue eyes. Can we stop zooming in on his face now, and move on with the story please. Thanks.

That`s it.

Just go watch the movie now. Just watch, and then let me know on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being awesome to 10 being epic, what you thought of this film. 

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