Martin Freeman as the Hobbit Bilbo Babkins does his best not to wear the ring in The Desolation of Smaug.

REEL REVIEWS: Smaug is long in the tooth

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug crams a lot of action in for a two hour, 40 minute trip through Middle Earth.

  • Dec. 20, 2013 9:00 a.m.

Everybody’s favourite Hobbit is back with his gang of dwarves and Gandalf the Grey wizard in tow. In The Desolation of Smaug, the middle film of the trilogy, things get darker and more dangerous.

We say, “It’s Smaugtacular!”

TAYLOR: As readers may recall, I’m not a fan of Tolkien’s Ring series, or most things that fall within the fantasy realm. Nevertheless, I put on my objective film critic hat (it’s brown)  and sat through the two hour, 40 minute Desolation of Smaug and I gotta say, despite everything being fine with the film, for the most part I was just bored.

I don’t think fans of the Peter Jackson films will be disappointed. Quite the contrary, there’s more action in this film than in the first. But to me it feels like a movie taking up needless time.

HOWE: I agree to disagree (in some aspects anyway.) I watched the first part again the other night and for the first hour it just drags on, a bit like having a root canal. This time out the action starts in the first 15 minutes. I’ve said it before that these movies look and feel like velvet, but unlike the Rings trilogy, which blew me away, The Hobbit just doesn’t cut it.

Jackson should have cut it to make it one great movie instead of three decent movies.

TAYLOR: There were a few moments of noticeable CGI, mostly during the swashbuckling. The film’s look is shiny and clear. Like the first film, it’s very pretty. Bilbo and the boys spend much of the movie walking, as you’d expect, through an amazing world, from one trial to the next —giant spiders, mysterious strangers, and leery elves— all in an effort to get to the Lonely Mountain and reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom from the sleeping dragon, Smaug.

Thing is, everything along the journey becomes an epic unto itself, thus the length of the series. This is why those who love these films, really love them. They give fans what they want in copious abundance. I think it becomes a bit self-indulgent and I have to dock points for it, I think fairly, because I truly am a fan of long, slow movies. Watching Smaug is like watching Raiders of the Lost Ark twice, which may or may not sound like a good idea.

HOWE: I think you have hit the nail on the head. All that running about would leave me shattered. There are a few plus points in part two: the dwarves are not as annoying this time around, the action is louder, bigger and more exciting, and Martin Freeman is growing into his role as Bilbo.

We should also mention that young children might be frightened by the violence, Smaug himself and the spiders.

—Taylor gives The Desolation of Smaug 3.5 more hours to wrap this thing up out of 5.

— Howe gives it 4 poisoned arrows out of 5.

– Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C.

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