“Even dragons have their endings….” HOBBIT 3 trailer

I t’s been extremely quiet from the lords of the ring since The Desolation of Smaug came out… a title change for the third Hobbit movie, but no posters, production diaries, or trailers – till now.

Master Jackson kicked the door open on the very last Middle-Earth movie he’ll ever make (probably) this past weekend at Comic Con, and the trailer for the we-mean-it-it’s-really-called-this The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies plays heavy with the end-of-the-world pageantry that made The Return of the King work so well a decade ago. Branding the movie “the defining chapter,” though, seems a bit much – and I’m an avowed fan of this stuff.

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.

Would you like to know more…?

Mamo #296: Sweet As

One month later to the day, Matt Brown returns from Middle Earth and Matt Price regales him with everything that’s happened in Hollywoodland since he’s been away. New Zealand travel tips abound! Plus, yet another random stranger asks our opinion about Episode VII! It’s like nothing’s changed at all.

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo296.mp3

Mamo #281: One Does Not Simply Mamo Into Mordor

The Lord of the Rings! Peter Jackson’s fantasy trilogy changed the face of Hollywood forever, thrusting Gollum, Weta, and New Zealand into the filmmaking forefront. With The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey mere weeks away, we take a trip in the time machine back to the project that started it all, and analyze the broad swath of impact that the One Ring has had on moviegoing.

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo281.mp3

Guillermo Del Toro quits The Hobbit

This news makes me happy. All those far more interesting GdT projects that could be better served with the mans time and attention over a needless ‘prequel’ (in two, possibly 3D films, no less) to the complete-on-its-own Lord of The Rings. Nobody wants to see a fine fantasy auteur waste his time on a cash cow. I am probably wrong on that last bit, but ah well. Hopefully some good and interesting cinema ahead from the big Mexican.

You want all the details, TheOneRing.net has ’em.