The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: A Very Short Review

By Brenda W. Clough

hobbit2 The besetting difficulty with the trilogy form is the middle volume. Or, in the case of The Hobbit, it’s the middle film. To inclue the new reader or viewer, yet without boring the returning fan. To be deprived of all the kickoff incidents and developing conflicts, but be denied the conclusions. To be cruelly limited by the need for some kind of unity, in the characters one can introduce, or shove off into oblivion. Pacing is difficult, plot tends to sag — it is hard!

So they did their best with The Desolation of Smaug, but this movie is flawed. To get around the sag issue (fatal in movies, far more so than in books) they loaded it with action sequences. As a result the work is about half an hour too long. I am charmed to see all the dwarves and hobbits again. Orlando Bloom in a long blond wig is easy on the eye, and you will like that dragon! But there’s plot and pacing problems that would otherwise be intolerable. I adored the first movie. This one is meh.

And it is hard to form a true judgment of the work, without the third part. It is possible that, once we have all three movies in hand, that they will cohere into a steely unity that will make us all fall to our knees in awe. But not yet. Oh, and it’s not worth springing for IMAX and the 3-D high-resolution showing.  That money is better invested with Gravity, where the 3-D and big screen really give you value.
My newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out exclusively from Book View Café.

I also have stories in Book View Café’s two steampunk anthologies, The Shadow Conspiracy and The Shadow Conspiracy II, as well as in BVC’s many other anthologies, including our latest, Beyond Grimm.


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4 Responses to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: A Very Short Review

  1. I’d say 45 minutes too long, too much foreshadowing of LotR and not even hot dwarves need a love interest. Plus too many action sequences that read as a) justification for 3D and b) sales tools for the inevitable theme park rollercoaster ride.

  2. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t bear much resemblance to the book. And I’m still not sure how someone who could compress LOTR into three movies — and if they’d cut some of those horde of orc fight scenes they’d have got even more of the story into those movies — found it necessary to stretch The Hobbit, which is not a long book, into three movies.

  3. Yes, the entire thing does scream thrill ride. Although any movie that can get the term ‘hot dwarf’ into the language is worth while — Kili is (as Esther Friesner would say) nomulent!
    What I object to is the loss of perfectly sensible and terrifying Tolkien, and subbing in boring and not-entirely-rational chases. How much more scary it was, when Bilbo had to tiptoe down the tunnel alone, and sneak back with one cup. And when he persuaded the others to hide in the tunnel and close the door, just in time.
    And — are there no service corridors? Servant staircases? SMALL SPACES? The entirety of Erebor seems to have been designed for vacation rental to dragons. Thorin & Co. should have been able to duck into corridors too small for any reptile.

  4. Dan O. says:

    Nice review Brenda. If you enjoyed the first, you’ll love this one and you’ll get your money’s worth, but if you were just very so-so with the first, you may feel the same about this one, while also feeling like there’s something good coming up around the bend with this last movie.