4 (un)necessary evils in The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug

I watched The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug last night and for the most part, I really liked it. Maybe not as much as the first one, but it was a good movie. I say that up front because you may have assumed from the title that I didn’t like the movie and that this post is going to hate on it, but that’s not the case.

Just so you know, I will not give any specific spoilers of the movie (“there was fighting” should not be considered a spoiler). I will make references to the book, which was written about 80 years ago and is a little past the spoiler range.

You know it's an epic movie, when the poster for the Hobbit doesn't even have the hobbit on it.

You know it’s an epic movie when the poster for the Hobbit doesn’t even have the hobbit on it.

4. It rushed things

This is understandable, I know. Although I’ve heard many people say that this relatively short book should be easily made into one movie, there are a lot of long, drawn out scenes that would take quite a long time to show onscreen if everything was done strictly by the book. A sentence like, “They wandered for days” could make for a long, boring couple of minutes/hours. The editors have to pick and choose what they want to put in the movie and some things they need to pass over quickly. Still, there was some scenes that I was really looking forward to that got about five minutes of screen time. Which leads to the next point.

Beorn? Big guy, turns into a bear, yada yada, next scene!

Beorn? Big guy, turns into a bear, troubled past, yada yada, next scene!

3. They added whole sub-plots

This one is a bit harder for me as a big fan of the book. I can understand cutting things to save time but then why add whole scenes and characters that are not in the book at all? It rankles me.

I understand, to a point, and ironically, the reason they need to add material is because they’ve cut or rushed parts of the story (not because the movies are too short by any means, although I think that when it comes to Tolkien-based movies, the longer, the better). The book has its own rhythm and if you were just to cut or rush parts, some of it would just seem like a frantic rushing from scene to scene with no development. So, they inject development into places the movie needs it because it has a slightly different flow from the book.

But still . . . holy cow, there are a lot of intertwining sub-plots. Almost every character gets their own little tangent.

This chick gets about as much screen time as Bilbo.

This chick gets about as much screen time as Bilbo.

2. Fighting . . . and more fighting

The book, The Hobbit, had a fair number of action scenes, although not a high body count beyond the fight with the spiders and the Battle of the Five Armies. The movies, however, have a higher body count than some war movies.

I get it. It’s a movie and it’s a lot more exciting seeing cinematic fighting and insane elf moves than just watching Bilbo trudge through Mirkwood thinking about how he wished he was back in his own house by the fire (not for the last time!). And I honestly enjoyed the fight scenes, for the most part. The fighting outlasted my interest by about five minutes, which in a 3-hour movie, is not that bad, I guess.

Watching it 3D, you're guaranteed at least a dozen arrows right through the heart.

Watching it 3D, you’re guaranteed at least a dozen arrows right through the heart.

1. Characters know way more than they should

This is something that bugs me in other movies too, but especially so in this one, since it happens several times. A character will look at someone and say something like, “Ah, I see by your expression that you are planning on going to the Lonely Mountain to regain your lost kingdom” or “You’re wearing a belt. You must be in the party of Thorin Oakenshield.” What? Characters display almost preternatural levels of intuition and knowledge. This especially bugs me because it occurs in places where the plot of the book revolves around those characters not knowing some very key information. And in the movie, they know it in a second.

(Deep breath) Fine, it’s a movie. They don’t have time to . . . well, for character development, it . . .

No, forget it. This is not a necessary evil. This is something that I really didn’t like about the movie.

I know all: I have a paperback copy of The Hobbit under my throne.

I am all-knowing: I have a paperback copy of the book under my throne.

I realize that this post has been incredibly vague with specifics in some parts. So, go watch the movie (if you haven’t already) and let me know if you agree with me. If you disagree, we’ll fight it out with bow and arrows while riding down a river in barrels.

(BONUS TIP: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, but are planning to, watch for a quick, walk-through cameo by Peter Jackson in the very first shot.)

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About David Stewart

I am a writer of anything quirky and weird. I love most genres of fiction and in each there are stories that I would consider "my kind of story". View all posts by David Stewart

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