Tuesday, December 17, 2013
One Minute Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Whenever a cinematic trilogy is attempted, it is always the middle of the three that is the most difficult to create. It must act as a cliffhanger, bring depth to the characters and story all while successfully "setting up" the finale to effectively evolve the concept and deliver the utmost in satisfaction and closure to the fan base. There are very few success stories and a plethora of celluloid disasters. Now with the advent of stretching novel series into multiple pictures, the challenge is even greater, and the chance of failure is more significant, especially when it is an effort to turn a single literary work into three cohesive and coherent flicks. Peter Jackson, mastered the art of the trilogy with his brilliant work with the Lord of the Rings series, but, again, that was three books, as opposed to one, using the appendices to flesh out the story and players in a way that was engaging and thoroughly entertaining. Here Jackson is presented with the daunting trial of duplicating that achievement with only the material from a single work, his elaborate imagination, and dogmatic love for Tolkien's best seller. In other words, it requires more filler than a truck load of Chicken McNuggets. The pros of the film are quick to identify, sweeping cinematography, jaw dropping scope, thanks to some of the most magnificent CGI work, likable characters, solid performances, and amazingly choreographed battle sequences. He is also successful in weaving in the mythology of his prior trilogy adding some sleek twists and plot devices that fit perfectly. He achieves bringing depth to the story and fleshing out the cast, but that is where the positives end. The problem, there is so much filler in this go round that the story drags, ala Soap Opera style, and ends up diluting the final product. It simply feels like a commercial attempt at keeping the franchise alive, rather than a true bridge between films. Add into that an ending that is lackluster and almost lazy, and you end up disappointed rather than entertained. It diminishes everything that is right about the picture and leaves you feeling like you just got taken in a proverbial sidewalk shell game. This story could have been told in two movies, but it is evident that would not have provided a big enough paid day. What a painful statement to make about one of my favorite directors. I have to give the points where they are due, but I am almost hesitant to do so. 3 out of 5 Kernels: apparently Smaug is not the only entity here obsessed with how much treasure he could accumulate, Jackson wasn't satisfied with his pile either.