Review: THE HOBBIT: The Desolation of Smaug

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

Watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, I had a full moment of clarity about why the people who don’t get these movies just don’t get these movies. An elf was talking to a dwarf in a dungeon under a palace carved out of a tree. It all seemed perfectly sensible to me, even the somewhat taboo elf/dwarf romance that was budding, but taken from the outside it’s outright madness in a lot of respects. It was madness made perhaps more digestible by the wartime pomp and circumstance of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, but this new, lesser trilogy is, in its own, around-the-corner way, more like mainlining both Tolkien and Jackson in equal measure. There’s no on-ramp for the uninitiated here.

Which is a long way of saying that those who didn’t like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (or, heaven forfend, The Lord of the Rings) won’t find anything in The Desolation of Smaug to curb their distaste. It’s long as fuck. It’s a wholesale embellishment upon a relatively slender tale. It lacks the clear(er) narrative thrust of, well, a trilogy made out of an existing trilogy. And to an even greater extent than the first Hobbit film, Desolation has trouble locating Bilbo – the titular Hobbit going on an unexpected journey across the desolation of Smaug – as its main character. He disappears for what seems like days at a time.

Desolation has, roughly, twenty principal characters. It can’t successfully juggle them all, or even most of them. (For love or points, name a single scene in which Ori or Bifur are featured. In fact, name a single time Bifur even speaks.) The action centers for the most part on Gandalf and Bilbo and to a greater extent Thorin, and at least in the latter case, this is an improvement; Richard Armitage’s sullen dwarf hero is a dab more compelling this time than last.

Much of the film seems like a reaction to the reaction to An Unexpected Journey. The day-glo cartoonishness of the first film’s troll encounters and Temple of Doom runs through Goblin Town have been replaced by a muted (nearly to the point of black and white) visual palette and grisly goings-on. There are no songs. The story carries us from the Beorn episode through the gang’s first encounter with Smaug in the Lonely Mountain, and it does so rapidly. I was strongly reminded of the theatrical cut of The Two Towers, which also seemed to skip over niceties like character beats and breathing space in favour of hitting its running time. I expect the Extended Edition blu-ray of The Desolation of Smaug to be a belter.

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Trailer: The Hobbit – Part Deux

The full trailer for The Desolation of Smaug is online and shows that Legolas has some worry lines even though he is supposed to be 40 years younger. Lots of dwarves and wizards and elves run around CGI environments, with actually precious little hobbit on screen. Quick poll: Anyone besides Matt Brown interested in this franchise at this point? I hate to ‘turn’ on Peter Jackson, the mad genius who has brought us so many films to love, but my heart is simply not in this new LotR trilogy.

International Trailer for STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS (Where People Glower at Each Other & Things Blow Up)

I should probably stop posting trailers for the sequel film to the rebooted Star Trek franchise, as the direction that the creators want to take these films is simply out of synch with what I know to be a Star Trek film. Apparently in this new tangent universe, there is no 5 year mission to explore new worlds. Why bother when you can set your tone in the vein of Chris Nolan Batman features – all culture of fear and terror and bureaucratic gridlock. This trailer also commits cardinal sin of using a Requiem for a Dream “Lux Aeterna” score, which at this point is as terrible of a cliche in science fiction trailers as is “Everyone Was Kung Fu Fighting” is for Jackie Chan imports. Oh, they apparently crash the enterprise and I know we never seen that done in a Star Trek feature film before.

I feel like a petty negative-nancy when it comes to the mass-sell of this film, with its endless explosions and its PG-13 lingerie shot. At least with The Wrath of Khan, they had the science and ethics of the Genesis project. Here, it’s all noise and fury, signifying nothing we’ve not seen in the past 5 years of space-shooter films. Congrats Star Trek, you are just like everything else. Thanks J.J., Orci and Kurtzman, you’ve risen my passion (a good thing!) but alas in a negative way towards what appears to be your collective, handsomely mounted and expensive mediocrity.

(Before you folks get all mad at me for pre-judging this enterprise: No, I don’t have to wait to see the film to get pissed off about it. I shall indulge myself like the patron saint of angry nerd, Ignatius J. Reilly, who to the best of my knowledge was not a Trekkie; but then again, neither am I.)

BRAHHHHHHHM! Star Trek Universe goes the way of Christopher Nolan

As if the Dark Knight Rises inspired poster was not sign enough, the blaring horns in this trailer and overall tone suggest that the Bond Franchise isn’t the only one influenced by Christopher Nolan’s in–camera, realistic-grim imagery and tone. Welcome to a Star Trek that certainly isn’t your father’s Star Trek, even as the image above suggests Spock might still ‘die’ in this episode, if you know what I mean. BRAHHHHHHHM!

Cinecast Episode 263 – A Little More NOS

 
You thought the comment section for our review of Pixar’s Brave was brash? Wait until Matt Gamble can actually use his voice. His attempts at putting Kurt into his place is always entertaining and Kurt goes for a Dude-ish zen approach to defend the latest Pixar from such quick dismissal. There is love for the rather unusual pairing of Keira Knightley and Steve Carrell in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and after all the harping on Brave, 100% forgiveness for the silly fun that is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Throwing horses apparently goes further than Bear pratfalls.

Being the halfway point of 2012, we indulge in our need to put together five lists and the gang all throws out their ‘Best of 2012 – So Far’ choices. A quick watch list involves Frankenstein, The other September 11th, fast cars, Jordana Brewster and Louis C.K. It’s a packed episode, so give it a whirlybird on your electronical doodad!

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_12/episode_263.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 235 – Clint’s Notes

Our quickest show in some time: Gamble mangled his ankle and is on the DL and Kurt is suffering from an energy sapping cold. But we soldier on folks, we soldier on. Like good little Cineastes, we check out the yearly offering from Clint Eastwood. This time it is a puffy Leonardo DiCaprio making out with the man in the bad latex, Armie Hammer (sans CGI twin) across the annals of twentieth century America in J. Edgar **SPOILERS**. This segues into our first “VS.” segment, where we debate “Eastwood the Actor” vs. “Eastwood the Director”, and struggle with the thin line in between those distinctions. We also check back in with quality Brit-Creature-Feature Attack The Block **SPOILERS**. In The Watch List we get our music on with Bill Condon’s Dreamgirls and Jean-Marc Vallée’s Café de flore. A little bit of philosophical waxing on the nature of the Space and Time rounds out the show.
 
 

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_11/episode_235.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?