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Review: Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’ Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen & More

by Rodrigo Perez
December 6, 2013 4:49 PM
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The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug

If the “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was a bloated 2 hour and 49 minute slog, replete with dull merriment, songs and a distended prologue that threatened to put you to sleep, then in contrast, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is a brisk, engagingly paced 2 hours and 41 minutes which goes to show that length never matters—it’s how well your narrative engine runs.

And yet, conversely (and ironically), pace isn't always the salve either. To wit: the Peter Jackson-directed ‘Hobbit’ sequel might be the more vigorous, action-packed, darker and more (superficially) engaging version of the series thus far, but that doesn’t actually mean it’s a keeper of any sort. In fact, rather than calling it a sequel, 'The Desolation of Smaug' is better served described as an episode. And the episodic, middle chapter-itis that is currently hurting the modern-day tentpole sequel is fully evinced.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

As facile and conventional as these ideas may be, ‘An Unexpected Journey’ was actually about something; a quest that touched upon friendship and fellowship (yep, all that stuff again) with Bilbo Baggins’ (Martin Freeman) main character arc involving earning the trust, respect and admiration of the initially disdainful, ornery and skeptical pack of thirteen dwarves he was traveling with (none of this is particularly revelatory, but occasionally it was touching in the same way these themes were in the ‘LOTR’ films). In contrast, ‘Smaug’ is about almost absolutely nothing. “The Further Adventures Of Chasing Gemstones That Mean Something Or Other To The Dwarves” might be a better suited subtitle as it is simply designed to keep this behemoth franchise moving forward and nothing more.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

So while ‘Smaug’ has forward-momentum, and is chockablock with battles and evil conflicts (Orcs, giant spiders, a Necromancer, a pointless digression with a shape shifter that hates dwarves, suspicious and selfish elves), it’s actually the lesser and emptier of the two films (though I concede most audiences are probably not in need of much more and are likely going to enjoy this episode better).

But for those who desire more than just dynamic roller coasters, they might feel incredibly stymied. The strain of what was originally conceived as one story running the course of two movies, now stretched to its limits with a third picture, is deeply felt. The character arcs are negligible, and what exists instead are moods—mostly “dark” and “irritable” as ‘Smaug’ is certainly the most angsty of all the ‘LOTR/Hobbit’ films to date. Bilbo Baggins is beginning to get hooked in the throngs of early “precious” ring addiction, which makes him a bit of a dick, but that’s all about his story amounts to. Bilbo is hiding his ring smack compulsion from Gandalf The Grey (Ian McKellen), but like far too many of the film's story elements, it's just a set up which will pay off in another episode and therefore holds no weight.

Dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) is also being quite the dick, becoming power hungry and falling prey to the madness of greed that also destroyed his ancestors. As the quest progresses, Oakenshield becomes more ruthless and merciless, putting the importance of the gemstone above all other individuals in his company going so far as leaving injured dwarves behind (leave no dwarf left behind!). This is less of an arc and more of a thing that happens to Oakenshield, and again, something that will likely pay off or become resolved in episode three. None of it is remotely moving or even barely interesting on a character, story or thematic level.

The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug

However, if you want sizzle and action that’s even more violent than what we’ve seen in previous films, you’ve come to the right place, as ‘Smaug’ is more aggressive with its fight sequences and battles. One involved set-piece with dwarves in wine barrels spilling down a river while Orcs and elves chase them is positively thrilling, matching and surpassing the visually dazzling sequences in Steven Spielberg’s panoramic “The Adventures of Tintin.” Those who want “bad-ass” will be satisfied, but like the animated Spielberg picture, it all feels ultimately like a video game that’s neat to look at, but not especially meaningful in any way.

Smaug the dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) serves much of the same function. He’s a visual effects spectacle to behold (a CGI marvel, really)—nasty, mean and a massive threat, but the character doesn’t add up to more than an infuriated bad guy who chases people around and burns their bums with fire because they’ve woken him up.

Elsewhere in the various tangents of this overlong story, nothing of merit is really taking place, other than the building blocks for 'There And Back Again.' The always unreliable Gandalf takes off from his friends for the umpteenth time to go investigate something or other (which is basically Gandalf’s modus operandi in every film; side quests! What a total flake). If you think some of the dwarves had fuck all to do in 'An Unexpected Journey,' you probably can’t even imagine the sheer boredom that must have set in for actors playing anyone not named Thorin, Balin (Ken Stott), Dwalin (Graham McTavish) and to a lesser degree Bofur (James Nesbitt). Sure, the handsome Kili (Aidan Turner) gets his own subplot centering on a deathly injury and a coquettish flirtation with Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel, but again (sigh) it’s all narrative teases that amounts to TUNE INTO THE NEXT EPISODE TO FIND OUT WHAT REALLY HAPPENS.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

Assholes are in plentiful number in ‘Smaug,’ apart from the aforementioned cantankerous characters. Thranduil (Lee Pace), the selfish Elvin king is a racist/xenophobe and doesn’t care what happens to the rest of the world. His son Legolas (Orlando Bloom) follows his lead and is also basically a jerk (also there’s little reason for this beloved character to be back for this film other than to dynamically kick-ass like he did in the ‘LOTR’ films). Sure he’s got a thing for Tauriel and that’s going to eventually evolve him into the Elf we know and love, but … yep, next installment. (Luke Evans also co-stars as Aragorn, I mean, Bard the Bowman; he doesn't like the dwarves' gemstone-finding motives, but you'll learn more about that Christmas 2014.)

The one character of any substance in the picture is Tauriel. A fictionalized creation that's not in the book, if you’re looking for the barest of superficial character texture, you’re thanking the gods Peter Jackson and his co-writers invented her. Empathetic and at odds with her people’s cynical outlook on Middle Earth, Tauriel actually cares about people in need of help (including dwarves, the sworn rivals of elves), so it’s her internal conflict that gives the movie its only shallow of humanistic depth.

In case you need reminding, “Lord of the Rings” lays in the background, sometimes not all that subtly; the ring, Sauron, the evil that is about to engulf Middle Earth and a prequel-like sequence that should be called, “How Sting [Bilbo’s Sword] Got Her Groove.” The truth is, audiences are going to approve of this sequel. It’s entertaining, it’s engaging and it’s got thrills, but all at the expense and to the detriment of what stories, narrative and filmmaking should be about. See you at the next chapter. [C]

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  • Old Tomnoddy. | May 9, 2014 11:34 PMReply

    The Hobbit book was not so focused on violence - Jackson seems to have ruined the charm of the original story with plenty of Hollywood mainstream bullshit.

  • Nathan | April 18, 2014 5:58 AMReply

    I don't care what anyone says, I wasn't disappointed in the least. Fast paced, great visuals, acting, audio, and a greater look into the history of characters I've grown to love from the Lord of the Rings.

  • Pdxjazzguy | February 3, 2014 9:34 PMReply

    A god aweful movie! I'm a fan of Jackson, of LOTR, and The Hobit but I have to draw the line at bad movie making.
    The people who like this movie have no reason left. It is 100 percent sell out. A money maker, that is it. They can just keep putting out middle earth movies and no matter how crappy they are people will go and see them and people will love them.
    Movies like this lower the bar and people that support this drivel only help with the anti intellectual movement. Feed us enough shit and we will be happy

  • lalapuput | January 16, 2014 12:51 AMReply

    you will regret it if you do not watch the film this

  • Robert Bayer | January 11, 2014 6:02 AMReply

    Peter Jackson did let us down. The fact that there are a lot of related writings to the Hobbit can in no way be used as a reason to justify 3 movies since the changes are for the most part completely different from the other original writings. Look .. I get that a movie director should have some leeway in changing the story .. I even like the elvish warrior lady Tauriel … but so many of the changes are simply stupid … Gandalf goes off to this mountain to meet Radagast?! Because? Did they really need to go there to decide to go to Dol Guldur? And what exactly does Gandalf hope to accomplish? In the book there was an actual battle, an attack by the forces of the White Council. Why not do just that?! It would be far cooler than Gandalf getting stuck hanging in a bird cage.

    Peter Jackson has transformed the story of the Hobbit so much that it scarcely resembles the original. It is not that none of the changes do not work, many in fact do, but for every 1 that does, there are 3 others which are simply laughably stupid. And it is these stupid ones, and there are scores of these, that basically ruined the movie for me.

    So Smaug is fighting 10 dwarves and 1 hobbit, all unarmed, and cannot kill a single one? So he goes to Lake Town rather than simply continue the fight with these unarmed foes? Why in the world would Smaug leave the dwarves and Bilbo in possession of Erebor and its staggering treasure so he could make an attack on Esgaroth, a place he could attack and obliterate any time after he kills and eats the dwarves and one hobbit? There are so many of these staggering dumb plot devices like this that it is just shameful that Tolkien’s name has to be associated with this pile of golden dung. We can only hope that someday some director with a bit more class and common sense and artistic integrity, will give a far better interpretation of a classic fantasy story rather than mangling one into something absolutely pathetic. And I won’t even go into the Hanna Barbara cartoon physics that seem to operate every time the dwarves encounter foes, destroying any last vestige of dignity or parallel real world Tolkien intentionally created over 6 decades of his life.

    And there has to be three movies to tell this story because .... ? Three movies and so many characters never are even fully developed like over half the dwarves and Beorn, for example.

    The truth is this trilogy is more about more money than anything else, and never about getting it right or otherwise Bilbo would actually be major hero in the movie rather than an afterthought. It is basically a glorified, cheap cell phone video game.

    Peter Jackson does not understand nor care about Tolkien’s work no matter how much he professes otherwise. Tolkien would be rightfully outraged and disgusted by Peter Jackson’s fabrications of the Hobbit. I only wish the real JRR Tolkien were here to shred him personally into “quivering ribbons” verbally with his razor sharp wit. See The Letters of JRR Tolkien for a sample review of Tolkien’s for a proposed movie script during his lifetime.

  • watchstreaming | December 31, 2013 2:55 PMReply

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  • Simon Paiva | December 31, 2013 11:17 AMReply

    To all those out there who are bashing this film, or the trilogy: these movies were not made for you. Peter Jackson said so himself that these movies are made by fans for the fans. Fans of Tolkien's Middle- Earth and fans of Jackson's VISION of this world, people who have a great deal of love, affection and reverence to both the source material and Jakson's artistic sensibilities. People like me and many, many others, these movies were made for us. So if you dont like it, dont watch it, keep your opinions to yourselves.

  • Roj Blake | February 6, 2014 3:37 PM

    " keep your opionons to yourself " What an arrogant statement, if Jackson's only intention was to make a fanfiction film for fanboys like you then he won, if he set out to make a film that comes to withing a mile to being as good as LOTR he lost....big time.

  • Robert Bayer | January 11, 2014 5:55 AM

    Keep your opinion to yourself? Like you just did? What an effin hypocritcal orc .. I won't do that .. gonna stop me ..?? And if Jackson's movies are not meant to mirror Tolkien's books then why even go there? Why cannot Jackson invent his own story and world? Because he cannot create anything far more creative than a parody of a video game.

  • Mário Azevedo | December 29, 2013 8:58 AMReply

    I think you were too kind on your review. Even as a rollercoaster action movie it fails 80% of the time because of the horrible "the camera is too close and too shaky" nasty habit of shooting scenes. I seriously fell asleep during this movie.

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  • Dave Van Wyk | December 22, 2013 9:15 PMReply

    Yes once again I went to the theater in hopes of a closer to book story/hobbit movie feel and after the first scene in Bree (which was actually interesting) saw something that really was not the hobbit at all. The entire movie was action after action, with a grim scense of the coming lotr wars, with the adventure feel almost non exsistant. The continuation of characters that were either mentioned in other tales or entirely new ones added didn't offer more to this film it only degraded it further. The biggest let down was how the story to movie was almost completley changed and not in a way that that drew someone in, there was no suspence in the story or time to enjoy the magic and mystery that was the hobbit story, there just seemed to be a lot of confusion and forcedness about it. Mirkwood was a good example of this alot of mishmash and elements missing like being told to stay on the path otherwise they could become lost or endangered,(instead they just wander all over the forest it seems). Bilbo taking lead for example and a mysterious suspensfull feel of the forest is lost, and with the length of these films where was the black river where Bilbo and the Dwarfs team up to overcome a great challenge? In the story the hardships they encounter together and help each other to overcome is part of what Tolkien did to slowly blend the characters, the story and the way events unfold (the black river and Bombur falling in and the Darfs and Bilbo having to carry him tells why the party becomes so desperate and leaving the path and disturb the Elves and eventually becoming lost and encoutering the spiders). Why in Laketown (altho an interesting layout) do we have Bard sneaking the Dwarfs and Bilbo in? Why not tell the real story of Thorin coming into his own? Thorin never needed this kind of attention by Bard and himself in front of the Master, Thorin and the Dwarfs' legend spoke for itself, and the decision was made by all the people of Laketown who were inspired by the stories and ledgends.Thorin and company came to Laketown as celebrities and gave the people of Laketown inspiration and hope at their arrival, I think the general audience would have loved much more the real story and this would have been the buildup to the mountain adventure, and the recognition that the Dwarfs had travelled so far for and risked so much. Sorry for the long windedness here, but I could pick any part of the movie story and say why not just tell the real story? I think for the most part the audience would have loved the real felling of the hobbit just as much as those of us who loved the book, and the opportunity to share that with the rest of the world has for now been delayed until someone new comes to direct and produce the real thing, not for themselves or what they think it should be or what hollywood wants, but for the real adventure the actual story that needs no alteration or enhancements. Tolkien's story and adventure of the hobbit is already complete and unfolds with it's own mystery and magic.

  • P Kukulski | December 18, 2013 1:16 PMReply

    Peter Jackson, redo The Desolation of Smaug.

    Peter Jackson, redo The Desolation of Smaug. Online Petition

  • keaton | January 13, 2014 1:12 PM


  • robert bayer | January 11, 2014 5:57 AM

    hey .. I am there ... except it should not be done by Peter Jackson .. the fake story warper ..

  • Philip Kukulski | December 18, 2013 1:15 PMReply

    Peter Jackson, redo The Desolation of Smaug.

    Peter Jackson, redo The Desolation of Smaug. |

    Online Petition

  • Nibun Gunlinul | December 16, 2013 4:31 PMReply

    Congratulations, Olarin. Your comment is spot on and absolutely right in every way. Of course, it is no coincidence that Christopher Tolkien has spoken negatively against the entire franchise and one can only imagine his dismay at this latest travesty of England's most popular children book and literary gem, with all the beauty of CGI but without any substance, without a soul. Perhaps in future someone more worthy will take it upon themselves to produce film art with Tolkien's works, keeping the essence of the books, once people get tired of 'good graphics' with no essence.

  • Pnin | December 17, 2013 7:50 AM

    I was hugely disappointed when the first part of this travesty came out last year. after reading some reviews which sensibly described what the second part amounts to, I'm gonna give it a miss. In the book Thorin is not such a big asshole Jackson turned him into. In fact, it's evident that Jackson stabs Tolkien in the back at every opportunity. As for all those special effects I still prefer Ron Howard's WILLOW which is far superior to Jackson's crock of shit. WILLOW is shorter, there is some internal logic which is nowhere to be found in Jackson's story and a more realistic look about it. Not to mention it's also funny and you do care about characters.

  • Olórin | December 13, 2013 8:36 PMReply

    While containing an adequate amount of visual appeal, Peter Jackson deviates from the actual story WAY too much. I could see his need for cutting things out of LoTR, as it's actually split into three books and so, such action was warranted, though, poorly done. However, The Hobbit is one book split into THREE films! There is no excuse for such amendment, let alone downright fabrication. The first film of The Hobbit was not as saturated with the aforementioned, as it followed the story a bit more closely, save for Azog the Orc, whom should not be in the film AT ALL, as he was slain by Dain II Ironfoot in single combat at the Battle of Nanduhurion, well before the quest of Erebor. The meeting of the White Council at Rivendell, while not being in the story of The Hobbit, was still legitimate Tolkien lore, and so, was quite welcome. The second film of The Hobbit just completely guts the storyline, and in a terrible manner, might I add. The only scene I somewhat enjoyed involved Gandalf dealing with the Necromancer at Dol Guldur, as again, that actually took place in Tolkien lore and was a worthy addition to the film. The rest however, especially the creation of Tauriel, was absolute rubbish and quite incensing. The director changed nearly everything about the actual story. I'll not put anymore coin in Peter Jackson's purse. He's done a severe injustice to this fair Tolkien work, not to mention the marring of the masterpiece that is LoTR. Jackson's greed must have Tolkien turning in his grave.

  • Washington | December 11, 2013 7:09 PMReply

    How on earth are there still nerds getting outraged at people who don't like these movies? They saw the first one right?

  • Lobelia | December 12, 2013 4:35 PM

    How? They’re nerds. It’s what they do best.

    Of course, it’s possible I wasn’t the only troll here. Maybe we’re all trolls trolling each other in an endless cycle of trolling.

    How do you tell?

  • Reality | December 11, 2013 2:04 PMReply

    FYI There's a joke article making fun of the comments on this article -

    I had to go to this site to see it myself. This review? Eh, I've seen better. But the comments, oh the sweet, sweet comments.
    "VIN" "TWS" "JASON" - I laughed for a solid 10 minutes. What a lonely, pathetic, stupid group of people you are. You made my day. Thanks!

  • Lobelia | December 19, 2013 11:58 PM

    Yeah, let Vin tell you, troll guy with a douchebag screenname! (I, too, find the very concept of reality deeply hurtful and offensive). All we want is intelligent critiques by truly objective reviewers, i.e. ones who were certain to like the movie. Or did you not realise that the sole legitimate purpose of film reviews is to reassure the fans?

  • Vin | December 17, 2013 3:22 PM

    First, "Reality" (=douchebag screenname) the problem people have is with the blogger Rodrigo-who has no business reviewing a movie he wasnt gonna like in the first place. He makes it clear he doesnt like the films he finds all them boring. So he is of no use to people who like the films, understand them, and want to see the film. If he was just a lames-ass, self-important internet troll such as yourself noone care about his opinion. But he's writing for a popular filmsite. And also,while your done blowin filmdrunk realize people dont have a problem with a critic not liking the movie peopel havent seen yet. . Which filmdrunk doesnt get either- they have a problem with somebody ill equipped to write a intelligent critque of a film. Hey "Reality" think before you type, you teenage dweeb

  • Reality | December 11, 2013 2:11 PM

    Oh and I forgot to point out, the Hobbit is as meaningful of a franchise as Iron Man, Thor, Monsters Inc, etc. This is just another attempt at studios grabbing cash from idiots who will go see any movie based on a book they read/liked (read: you). And if this hasn't occured to you, "The desolation of SMAUUUWWWWG" is an idiotic title. Every time the commercial comes on and they read it at the end, it gets me (and Cris Collinsworth if anyone here watches the NFL, though I doubt you do). I've tried to watch the first Hobbit on HBO about 4-5 times so far and I've fallen asleep every time. So. Ridiculously. Boring.

  • Bill | December 11, 2013 11:55 AMReply

    These commentators are the result of the past decade of crap film. I saw the hobbit and it sucked. It prostitutes Tolkien's work plain and simple. If you're not a simpleton who's brain is satisfied with CG and stupid plot inventions like "the pale orc" then go look up the original animated version of the hobbit released back in the 70's. You can watch it on youtube for free, it's about 90 mins, it's simple, humble, fun, and doesn't try to turn Tolkien's sweet simple story into the next Transformers franchise.

  • Rachel | March 20, 2014 9:34 PM

    I can't agree with you more. Why couldn't they just make it simple like the book? Yeah, what the hell is with those made up stupid orcs, seriously? I loved the book. This movie sucks, really sucks. Did I mention it sucks? :(

  • Rob | December 11, 2013 12:49 PM

    CG, the pale orc, I agree. And I want to give my endorsement of the '77 version. It nailed the feel of the novel.

  • Mhamed | December 11, 2013 10:37 AMReply

    Rodrigo Perez, don't watch movie genres that doesn't intrest you the slightest.
    Also I don't wish people getting fired, but you should just resort to doing something else than reviewing movies.

  • RP | December 11, 2013 11:08 AM

    I liked the LOTR films a lot. I even liked the first Hobbit a lot despite most critics hating it. Maybe I should fire myself? If you guys start an internet petition I will.

  • Dude | December 9, 2013 8:32 PMReply

    Rodrigo Perez is a hypocrite. First of all he's every bit as big a dick as the ones he complains about in the movie; constantly whining throughout the review without adding much insight into why he hates the movie. Second he more or less says that book is better then the movie then says the one good thing about the movie was a character who wasn't in the book! WTF?

    I have no problem with bad reviews but if the worst you can come up with is that it "just feels like another episode in the series" then find your ass another job because you're not nearly articulate enough to really review anything.

  • DUDE | December 9, 2013 8:40 PM

    And no I'm not a big fan of the Hobbit movies. I just don't think Rodrigo Perez had any legitimate beefs with the film. The review pretty much boils down to the fact that he didn't like the film because the second installment of three part franchise. Does he really need twelve paragraphs just that? No.

  • DLV | December 9, 2013 12:02 AMReply

    “The Further Adventures Of Chasing Gemstones That Mean Something Or Other To The Dwarves
    Thanks captain just summed up the movie. Your point is?

  • the sneering (homo-phobic) snob | December 8, 2013 8:43 PMReply

    Ian McKellen is a bloody woofter, the bloody dirty fairy.

  • Dave | December 8, 2013 5:31 PMReply

    Bard the bowman was not Aragorn.

  • Get the joke | December 9, 2013 9:38 PM

    no shit, genius.

  • mork | December 8, 2013 2:25 PMReply

    Someone doesnt like fantasy, holy crap what a large stick must be up his butt

  • Lobelia | December 8, 2013 3:27 AMReply

    *Sigh* Once again, so-called “critics” seem to believe that just because they’ve seen a film, they’re entitled to say negative things about it. Now, I’m not saying “Desolation” mightn’t have one or two minor flaws, but why mention those and not all the totally awesome stuff that *must* be in it? Way to sound balanced!

    I just don’t understand how people this biased can get to be professional critics.

  • Lobelia | December 8, 2013 9:33 PM

    'Just because they've seen a film they're entitled to an opinion that may be different from yours’
    -when it means cynically trashing my favourite movie of all time? I suppose next you’ll be saying it can’t be my favourite movie when I haven’t seen it yet! You, sir, do not know what being a true fan is all about, and neither does this so-called Rodrigo Perez.

  • cineman | December 8, 2013 3:55 PM

    Just because they've seen a film they're entitled to an opinion that may be different from yours

  • Dennis | December 7, 2013 10:38 PMReply

    Yeesh, people never get so bent out of shape over reviews as when a writer isn't inclined to gush over a big fantasy franchise. How dare he not bow before the magical wonderland of Peter Jackson and Tolkien! I know why I don't: I'm not 13 years old anymore. I'm not about to burst a blood vessel because somebody doesn't think "The Hobbit" or Batman are the genius epic narratives of our era. More power to ya if you love them, but please lighten up a bit when others aren't as enthused.

  • Fuck you | December 7, 2013 8:18 PMReply

    Everyone has a right to their own shitty opinion.

  • WITHOUT A DOUBTER | December 7, 2013 5:40 PMReply

    Truly horrible review of a movie I haven't seen, but despise with regardless.

  • Without a Doubt | December 7, 2013 5:39 PMReply

    Truly amazing review of a movie I haven't seen, but agree with regardless.

  • Precious | December 7, 2013 5:28 PMReply

    Hands down the best review ever written on the Internet. Super professional. I am in awe.

  • Richard | December 7, 2013 2:41 PMReply

    I think the essential problem is that with 'Two Towers' and 'Empire Strikes Back' a lot of ground is covered and the characters and story progress somewhat dramatically. Sure, they were 'middle films', but they were all 'about' something, and they reached their own thematic conclusions. With these Hobbit movies, the characters just don't seem to have a lot to do.
    I personally really like An Unexpected Journey, because it was a lot of fun, but I do still see it as overstretched and somewhat pointless. With LOTR Jackson had to cut a lot out to fit it into 3 films, but with The Hobbit it really does feel like they're treading water with every new action sequence, padding out what could have been a very enjoyable double-film just to make another trilogy. Thus, I can imagine this new one probably is, as the reviewer suggests, 'about nothing'.

  • ED | December 7, 2013 5:27 PM

    " Sure, they were 'middle films', but they were all 'about' something, and they reached their own thematic conclusions. With these Hobbit movies, the characters just don't seem to have a lot to do. Thus, I can imagine this new one probably is, as the reviewer suggests, 'about nothing'." Ding, dong, correct.

  • Jackson | December 7, 2013 2:20 PMReply

    I absolutely adored Lord of the Rings, but Peter Jackson took a giant dump on The Hobbit. The first movie was so bad and I'm sure this will suck too.

  • James | December 7, 2013 2:02 PMReply

    What an utter pile of shit this review is.. It's as though the reviewer went into the film having planned what he was going to write already, maybe he should try to have a bit of an open mind and remember that this is only the second part. I'd love to see this 'reviewer' achieve what Peter Jackson has achieved, and i'd love to see his version of The Hobbit seeing as he seems to think this adaptation is so poor. It amazes me how people like this guy are able to get advanced screenings of films. What a complete and utter first class bellend.

    Yes many people will complain that it's the 'writers opinion' and I would be fine with that but why has he written it like his opinion is fact (or anyway that is how it comes across) for example - "In contrast, ‘Smaug’ is about almost absolutely nothing. “The Further Adventures Of Chasing Gemstones That Mean Something Or Other To The Dwarves” might be a better suited subtitle as it is simply designed to keep this behemoth franchise moving forward and nothing more."

  • Handsome Bob | December 7, 2013 1:56 PMReply

    Down with the Floppit! Bravo Señor Perez!

  • CJJ | December 7, 2013 1:26 PMReply

    The main criticism seems to be that it's a middle film, in which case you clearly haven't seen the likes of Two Towers, Empire Strikes Back etc. This isn't the beginning and it isn't the end, you should've just taken it as it is rather than get caught up on the lack of conclusions, which you should've obviously have known that Part 3 will bring. Silly review.

  • cineman | December 8, 2013 3:57 PM

    A middle film should still be able to satisfy on it's own, have it's own emotional journey & themes, without additional bookends

  • Arman | December 7, 2013 1:19 PMReply

    oh i 'love' how other fellow 'critics' pat this one on the back on twitter & laugh at 'crazy lotr loonies'.
    No need to discredit them. they make lots of valid points. but ofc 'critics' know better Oh yeah *rolls eyes*

  • Thomas Babylon | December 7, 2013 1:10 PMReply

    To be ohnest I actually loved the first film od this trilogy of the "Middle Earth Saga". I suspect I will feel the same for the second (to be determined). Mr. Jackson is one of the greatest filmakers of all time, and has done nothing but ohnored Sir Tolkien wirh all these films to date. That being said...this critical review of "Smaug" is extremely confusing to behold. Why??? Well at times he is actually praising the film as much as he is putting it down. Only to side on the negative. Hate to be him.

  • Apocalypse Pooh | December 9, 2013 9:02 AM

    Peter Jackson is the King of Bloat.

  • Alan B | December 9, 2013 5:41 AM

    Yeah, Rodrigo is really into ambiguity, isn't he? "This happened and then this happened and then this happened." He's the second coming of Manny Farber, that's for sure.

  • Oliver Lyttelton | December 7, 2013 1:24 PM

    Yeah, poor him, having to deal with shades of grey. It's a real curse. Fortunately, everyone else in the world thinks that things are either 'rotten' or 'fresh.'

  • Cate | December 7, 2013 1:03 PMReply

    auful review
    Go watch Nolan or 'wonderful & thought provoking' BS like Catching Fire

  • Erik | December 7, 2013 12:43 PMReply

    I'm facepalming at 80% on the comments here, most of them basically complaining about a movie review containing its writer's opinion.

  • Apocalypse Pooh | December 9, 2013 9:04 AM

    And 100% of them trashing a review of a movie they haven't even seen. Ugh...fanbots. They must love how Peter Jackson's ass tastes, seeing as how often find themselves on their knees kissing it.

  • Drew Morton | December 7, 2013 10:27 AMReply

    I love The Lord of the Rings. I love J.R.R. Tolkien. In fact, I love those two things so much that I emblazoned on my flesh with a tattoo.

    That said, the first HOBBIT movie was an underwhelming disappointment and I have almost little interest in seeing the second one. I'm not a huge fan of the book and I think WB/Peter Jackson let the potential for box office glory go to their heads, so they turned a 2 movie series into a bloated trilogy.

    In close, being a fan does not mean you have to accept every.single.interation of the object of fandom as Gospel.

  • Stranger | December 7, 2013 10:22 AMReply

    Had anyone breached the possibility that the critic could be an awful writer AND that the movie is an underwhelming adaptation?

  • gerry | December 7, 2013 7:40 AMReply

    such unbelievably bad writing and thinking. how/why is this guy writing for indiewire?

  • BOGS | December 7, 2013 10:00 AM


  • Godot | December 7, 2013 9:47 AM

    The writing is absolutely fine and better than 90% of most fanboy site (or some of them who can't even write reviews and do video instead), it's just that you're a butthurt fan

  • vin | December 7, 2013 7:34 AMReply

    I get it. Youre so bored with the hobbit movies. You think they're boring nothing happens etc. Jackson makes these for Tolkien fans not blogger douchebags. Acting perpetually cynical in hopes people will think you're intelligent/informed -doesnt make it so. It just makes you a dick. At least you acknowledge that other people less cynical and humorless than you will enjoy it. The first hobbit was beautiful.

  • Josh | December 7, 2013 4:16 AMReply

    I would lightly suggest to all the butt hurt hobbit fans out there, that you haven't seen this movie yet. Thus you have no right to an opinion on it yet and so also have no right to criticise the opinion of the reviewer. Think about it.

  • happydood | December 7, 2013 6:02 PM

    I would lightly suggest to Josh that when you say things like 'butt hurt' people think you haven't admitted to yourself that you're gay.

  • LN | December 7, 2013 3:21 PM

    The most stupid review I have ever read! Yes of course a lot of people here haven't seen the film yet, and that is why we read THE REVIEW, and expect to know more about the filmmaking, the effects and actors' performances. Yet this review, which I had spent my precious time to read, just showed how the writer hates the trilogy and and his opinion about all characters are 'dick', 'asshole' or 'jerk'.
    And just as this man has the right to write a shitty review, we have the right to comment in COMMENT BOX too!

  • FYI | December 7, 2013 9:45 AM

    He liked the first one more than most critics -- they all hated it -- and he seems to like Peter Jackson, fyi.

  • vin | December 7, 2013 7:47 AM

    The basher is this reviewer who obviously doesnt like the Peter Jackson movies to begin with. His cynicism and boredom with these incredible movies is central to his unprofessional teenage review. These films are incredible achievements and this guy is just some ineffectual blogger dick who does nothing. "We" have right to an opinion on this douche. thats what this comment section and the 1st ammendent is for. Who the hell are you to say so. Go blow yourself

  • TWS | December 7, 2013 4:11 AMReply

    Let's put this review in premise/conclusion form. I really want to spell out to you how asinine this movie critic is.

    P1) It's a middle chapter, neither the beginning nor the end. (this has nothing to do with the film)
    P2) It has no plot. (The plot is the most successful fantasy story ever written... so...)
    P3) Every character is a "dick" (They are portrayed almost exactly as Tolkien wrote them... again... it's the best fantasy story ever written).
    P4) The characters don't have depth (Apparently this guy has never read the book, relative to which these characters are a deep sea trench).
    C) The Hobbit is a mediocre book, I mean film, that is considered the best fantasy story of all time.

    Here's the issue, if you hadn't guessed it. Every single solitary criticism this movie critic makes is entirely a criticism of the source material. Let me repeat myself. Every single point of contention that this man brings up is not with the film, but with the source material used to create it. That source material happens to be accepted by virtually all literary authorities as the best, THE BEST, fantasy story ever written... EVER.

    That is all. Have a nice night.

  • Apocalypse Pooh | December 9, 2013 9:07 AM

    TWS is pulling this "premise/conclusion" act in all of the comment sections of the bad reviews for The Hobbit: The Bloating of Smaug. How laughable. Keep tilting at those windwills, fanbot!

  • Mehrine | December 7, 2013 7:16 AM

    "Every single solitary criticism this movie critic makes is entirely a criticism of the source material."

    Absolutely not. It's a criticism of how the source material is handled and put onto screen.
    Jackson didn't just take the source material and tried to translate it faithfully for the screen (which is pretty much what he did with LotR), he changed the dynamic of the story, cut it, added things.

    If you take only the middle part of a great book, it won't make much sense or be very interesting. That's not a criticism of the book, but of what is done with it.

    What you're saying, basically, is that whatever adaptation can only go one way. The book is great, the movie is going to be great. The characters are great in the book, the characters have to be great in the movie.
    Well, when the filmmaker changes what's in the book, you end up with something different from the source material. Can be a good thing, can be a bad thing. Here, it's a bad thing.

    "Let me repeat myself. Every single point of contention that this man brings up is not with the film, but with the source material used to create it."

    LET ME REPEAT MYSELF. No, every point of contention that this man brings up is not with the source material used to create it, but with how it is handled.

    Have a nice day.

  • SANCHAYAN | December 7, 2013 2:35 AMReply

    It seems within matter of minutes the bashers are bashing.. i mean whats ur problem.. if u dont like the movie dont like it .. no need of calling names.. The movie will alwez be cherished by the ones who likes it. I dint like Batman Trilogy but that doesnot mean its a bad trilogy .. and if u r so disinterested in the movie or the franchise then why come and read reviews and comment? ..

    Secondly i have seen certain comments stating on quality .. well mister.. we all can assess quality for ourselves.. dont talk about movie taste and all.. This adaptation is on something which had a part in my childhood.. and u honestly think the reviews come in my way .. part of the book Hobbit was being irrationalized fun . and thats what the movies are for..

  • Steven | December 7, 2013 12:40 AMReply

    Interesting review, dude. However, I can't take you seriously given your word choice. You seem angry rather than critical. I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but yours really just seems like a rant as opposed to a review. The best reviews I've read are those that truly take the time to analyze the film, which can often take more than one viewing. I am disappointed by this review and I encourage you to maintain some sort of professionalism when writing your next piece.

  • Merry | December 7, 2013 12:23 AMReply

    I'd like to state that some complaints here are, in fact, legitimate. I do care about character development greatly as it's always one of my favorite things in stories like this. . However, Thorin's obsession with the Arkenstone, or Bilbo's latching onto the ring aren't sound reasons to dislike the film in any way. These moments are important to the story. And as for the movie only being a lead-up to the third film, I heard the same complaint for Catching Fire in several reviews, and look at how well Catching Fire has been resonating with people, my self included. That, also is not a solid reason for disliking the movie. Just a little complaint I have..

  • Merry Chrismiss | December 9, 2013 5:06 PM

    "look at how well Catching Fire has been resonating with people, my self included"

    Good lord...! I would love to hear just how exactly Catching Fire has been "resonating" with you.

    Is it that fantastic message of uprising that allows you to carry on living in your disgusting dying world, but because you just lived out the fantasy of uprising against your oppressive leaders (captors) the fire of anti-establishment and anger has been totally quelled?

    You sound like a tool. If you really gave a shit about anything you wouldn't be sat around watching films made for 12 year olds and their younger sisters. You'd be out there protesting and making a difference.

    Or was it just because "OMG Jennifer Lawrence should totally win all those awards ever made ever. Because it's not like she is being over-used, over-seen and over-hyped all over everywhere!"

    Bet you can't f***ing wait for X-Men and Spider-Man 2.

  • Apocalypse Pooh | December 9, 2013 9:12 AM

    Bilbo's "ring addiction" has absolutely nothing to do with the story of The Hobbit, it never happens in the book, it took years for the Ring to get a grip on Bilbo, although he lied about finding it. He didn't become a Ring-crack head until much later in life.

  • Marissa Evans | December 6, 2013 11:38 PMReply

    Why are people like you allowed to review films professionally? And I'm not saying this because I want a good review for the film (personally couldn't care less, I'm just curious about taking my kid to see it), but it would be nice to get a review that doesn't sound like a 12 year-old boy venting.

  • Jason | December 6, 2013 11:37 PMReply

    You called the dwarves "hobbits" in this review. I think this articulates the extent to which you decided you'd hate this movie before even watching it. I may not have even noticed you'd made that mistake, if you weren't trying to sound like an edgy, hip blogger with an appealing personality. Try less.

  • Doug Gregor | December 6, 2013 11:36 PMReply

    Not every movie can be as awesome as Anaconda 3 Mr. Perez!

  • Jackster | December 6, 2013 11:24 PMReply

    U are a supreme dick. And you can't tell me off for swearing since you did it many times in your review, unprofessional asshole.

  • Steve Jones | December 6, 2013 11:12 PMReply

    just stop making reviews, your being ridiculous

  • Gary Masters | December 6, 2013 11:03 PMReply

    I was surprised by the last line of this review. The writer seems to be in complete accord with Edmund Wilson who also felt the Lord of the Rings had no place at all in literature. During the course of making Lord of the Rings, the tension was to fit the concepts of film (arcs, and all) or follow Tolkien. Tolkien took risk in story telling that few would dare follow. Some times the arcs won and in a few Tolkien won and while it was a good film, it was not really Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit is slower and still the critic is right. It misses the conventions he wants. But it is Tolkien on film. As with everything - it is our choice as to what we like.

  • TWS | December 7, 2013 4:29 AM

    Everything Perez criticized was an attack on Tolkien's work. If Perez simply doesn't like Tolkien, he should waste his own time watching this film and he shouldn't waste with his biased review.

  • W. F. | December 6, 2013 10:51 PMReply

    Saw it at a recent DGA screening. Totally agree. Thrills aplenty, but they are empty. Not a good stand alone sequel. Just spinning gears until the finale.

  • TWS | December 7, 2013 4:30 AM

    Just like catching fire. What a great movie.

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