By Brenda W. Clough
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.