News

REVIEW: The Hobbit: The ‘Desolation’ of plot

REVIEW: The Hobbit: The ‘Desolation’ of plot

Photo: YouTube

Genre:  Action, Adventure, Sci Fi, Fantasy | Run Time: 161 min | Rated: PG-13
Director: Peter Jackson | Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Orlando Bloom

By: George Wolf

The fantasy film genre boasts some great sequels, even when those films are little more than bridges from Episode 1 to 3. While the second born may lack closure, it doesn’t bear the burden of exposition that tends to weigh down any first episode, and it lacks the need to tidy up every minute detail that sometimes derails a final installment.

The Empire Strikes Back is the classic example, but the genre offers many others. The Hunger Games sequel, for instance, far surpasses the first. Even the wingnut Peter Jackson’s first Tolkien trilogy offered the swiftly paced and satisfying center, The Two Towers.

His next Middle Earth middle child, the beardtastic The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, hits screens this week, and it, too, benefits from a groundwork set in the first installment, and the freedom to end without tidying up.

And Arkenstone be damned, Ian McKellen is the gem of this franchise. Once again, he brings the right mix of humor and gravitas to make Gandalf the coolest guy – excuse me, wizard – in the realm.

Martin Freeman is also spot-on as Bilbo – a perfect mix of humility, courage, and British manners. His Bilbo is very easy to relate to, which is rarely the case in a Tolkien production. Still, many of the million-ish supporting turns, though universally one-dimensional (regardless of cinematic presentation), animate the tale appropriately.

There’s a lot holding it back, though.

Mainly, it suffers from the same condition as An Unexpected Journey, which is that there is no defensible reason to make three films out of the novel The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings was conceived by Tolkien as a trilogy, where The Hobbit is a single volume, so Jackson had to carve it into three, padding and elongating here and there to accomplish this mission.

Because if there’s one thing Tolkien needs, it’s more stuff.

The needless bloat is an obstacle to enjoying all that’s right about the film, because the story just becomes tedious too soon and too often. The fact that you realize there will be no satisfying conclusion does not make the pace seem any less leaden, and the result feels more like a rip-off than a cliffhanger.

Yes, the dragon looks cool, the Orcs continue to frighten, and as a tourist video for New Zealand, the location shooting works miracles. But many filmmakers, Jackson included, have been devoted enough to the stepping-stone sequel to craft a film that succeeds where the rest of the franchise fails. This time around, Jackson just adds filler and cashes checks.

Verdict-2-5-Stars

Read more movie reviews at MaddWolf.com.

Recent Headlines

in Local Sports

Dempsey, Chandler score as US beats Guatemala 4-0

Fresh
clint dempsey concacaf twitter

Clint Dempsey converted a penalty kick in his return from a suspension for a confrontation with a referee, Timmy Chandler scored his first international goal and the United States routed Guatemala

in Sports

Oilers sign Connor McDavid to 3-year, entry-level contract

conner mcdavid twitter

The Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with center Connor McDavid on a three-year, entry-level contract.

in Local Sports

AP source: Knicks agree to deal with center Robin Lopez

Portland Trail Blazers' Robin Lopez (42) reaches over San Antonio Spurs' Danny Green (4) for a rebound during the first half of Game 1 of a Western Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in San Antonio.

Lopez will leave the Portland Trail Blazers to fill the open spot in the middle for the Knicks

in Sports

Day five at Wimbledon

wimbledonserena

Serena Williams had a tough time but advanced while Novak Djokovic cruised to an easy win.

in Sports

AP sources: Mavericks, DeAndre Jordan agree to 4-year deal

DeAndre Jordan twitter

DeAndre Jordan has chosen the Mavericks over the Los Angeles Clippers in what turned into a tense boom-or-bust wait for Dallas in pursuit of the free-agent center.