May 31, 2014

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Peter Jackson, 2013
The second film in the Hobbit trilogy catches up to Bilbo Baggins and his Dwarven companions as they inch closer to Erebor which has been guarded by the legendary dragon Smaug for some time.

The second installment in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy bears quite a bit of resemblance to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and there is nothing wrong with that. Jackson has a great track record of providing great style with great story, albeit it mostly CGI'd. The alternate universe depicted in Desolation is a much less forgiving one than the first in the series. Enlarged insects. The dwarves find themselves running into old enemies. The orcs build strength. There is an ominous build-up of dark energy. Bilbo is finding himself falling victim to his new-found ring's powers. Even the landscape itself is a much more bleak one. Absent of the vibrant colors shown in the first film, this one is decorated with cobwebs and gray tones. Unlike the first film, there isn't a lot of time for all-night feasts in pubs. The clock is ticking. While Smaug has a more mythical presence in the first film, he is certainly a physical presence in this one. The enormous digitized beast does not disappoint.

Now with fifteen hours of film created, is there anything more thoroughly entrancing than Jackson's wide-screen depiction Middle Earth? Of course people could say Star Wars, or Star Trek, maybe the Harry Potter films or any other franchise with hours and hours of material. But they just don't feel as detailed. While some of the other franchises may have a more complex story-line, an argument can be made that they fall short visually. Jackson has put the Tolkien-created world on film in a way that when you sit down and start watching, depending on your viewing environment (and you aren't watching it on your iPhone with no headphones), you are IN his world. Those three hours fly by. You don't want it to be over. They are always a feast for the eyes. Candy for the cortex. Merrymaking for the mind. You can't blame the guy for building himself his own Hobbit house in New Zealand. He did that, right?