The Hobbit: The Desolation of Money

It’s a good sign when a film’s poster contains multiple characters that were not in the source material.

It’s no secret that I despised The Hobbit Part 1, and I wasn’t looking forward to watching Part 2. In fact, I waited until it aired on HBO, because there was no way in hell I was shelling out my hard earned cash on this travesty. And as impossible as it sounds, Part 2 is actually worse than Part 1. Somehow, Peter Jackson managed to pull it off.
To be fair, I will admit that the beginning of the movie was pretty good. The dwarves and Bilbo enter Mirkwood Forest, get lost, are waylaid by spiders, and eventually are rescued. This hewed fairly close to the source material, and ended up being the highlight of the movie. Similarly, the only good scene in Part 1 was the Riddles in the Dark scene, which again, was the only scene that stuck to the source material. Hey, Peterson Jackson, guess what? Following the source material for the whole fucking thing would have been a good idea.

Alas, Jackson fucked shit up even worse than he did the first time around. After the party of heroes escapes the spiders, the movie begins to veer off course pretty wildly. Sure, the basic framework of the book is still there, but the movie is filled to the brim with unnecessary additions like needless dialogue, needless subplots, needless CGI, and needless characters.

He looks CGI, too.

Case in point: Legolas, yes, that’s right, motherfucking Orlando Bloom, shows up in Part 2. He’s one of the elves living in Mirkwood Forest. He wasn’t in the book, and he has absolutely no business being in this film. Jackson tried to justify it by saying that in Tolkien’s books, the elf king was his father, so of course he would be around. Maybe so, but if he wasn’t mentioned in The Hobbit, then he didn’t do anything important, and therefore should not have had any screentime.
Now, if it was just Legolas showing up to kill some orcs, fine, whatever, I could have accepted that. But the subplot in which he’s involved is so mind-bogglingly stupid, it turns out worse than a 12-year-old girl’s fan-fiction. Legolas, one of the dwarves (Sneezy, I think), and some new Elf Bitch invented for the movie get immediately involved in a love triangle. Yes, that’s right, folks. Your beloved, nearly 70-year-old fantasy/adventure book, now has a subplot worthy of any series on the CW. Sneezy and Elf Bitch pine for one another, and Legolas broods in the background, jealous, but too angsty to say anything.
And it’s totally weird that Bloom is heavier than he was in the Lord of the Rings films. He isn’t fat, but he’s certainly rounded out in the years between films. So, if you watch The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in chronological order, Bloom will de-bulk. Did he go on a diet? Did he stop taking HGH? Did he start doing coke? Who knows? Maybe they should make another film explaining all this!

Stealthy escape scene not exciting enough for you? Don’t worry, the 47th battle scene will happen in just a few moments.

Like Part 1, Part 2 fails horribly because of Jackson’s insistence that everything become an epic battle. In the book, the dwarves escape from the elves hidden in barrels going down a river. Well, apparently that’s not exciting enough for Jackson. So, he makes sure to tack on a 15 minute battle sequence to the river escape. Orcs appear out of nowhere to kill the dwarves, and the elves show up just in time to save them. CGI combatants jump around shooting CGI arrows, swinging CGI swords, and falling into a CGI river. It’s absolutely disgusting how pointless the scene is, and how it does nothing but stretch the running time on an already threadbare film.
Speaking of CGI, the thing I hated most about Part 1 (well, most is debatable since I hated pretty much everything about it) was that the orcs were all CGI instead of humans in costumes. Part 2 makes the bizarre decision to have half the orcs as CGI and half as humans in costume. The humans in costume look great, and are a welcome relief amongst the sea of shitty CGI. However, they tend to stand out even more because so many of them are obviously fake, mixed in with the real ones. It would have been better for Jackson to just pick one (CGI or costumes) and go with it. He should have at least been consistent. The fact that he couldn’t shows he is a weak director.

Peter Jackson’s profits from this trilogy.

The final sequence, Bilbo interacting with Smaug the dragon, should have been epic. It should have built slowly, with mounting tension, as they play a game of cat and mouse. For a time, they did that, and the scene was engaging. Unfortunately, Jackson once again added yet another action sequence where the dwarves somehow figure out a way to rapidly manufacture liquid gold (*faceplam*) and douse Smaug with it in an attempt to kill him. Obviously, it doesn’t kill him, because that never happened in the book.
The movie finally blunders to a close, and now we all await Part 3. I didn’t think it was possible for this film to be so terrible. There are maybe 45 minutes of actual story in a 3 hour film. The rest of it is pointless garbage, only present to sustain a three-picture contract between the movie studio and Jackson, so both can make as much money as possible. Their quest for money created a greater cinematic desolation than Smaug ever could.
Verdict: Shitty

11 Responses to “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Money”

  1. 1 Dober
    December 15, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I just came home after watching the third Hobbit to find your review to Smaug.

    No spoiler: You will have to invent a new rating for the third film because it is that horrible. Can’t wait for the review. This is coming from a guy who actually kinda liked the 2nd film.

    But topic!
    I share your problem with the unnecessary subplots and the fake looking CGI which is funny. The last part of the film features some of the best looking CGI in the film – the actual dragon. It looks epic and I would say its animations (movement and face) are the best there are to date. The whole budget must have flown into the animations of this dragon.

    I liked the “Lord of the rings atmosphere” of the 2nd film. I think it is well directed and paced roughly up until the third act. You didn’t even write about the plot about the “master of laketown” and his fucking idiot henchman Alfrid. This ruined the most of the film for me. Unfortunately the ridiculous over the top action scenes and the dumb humor dragged this movie also down – at least for me.

    All in all I would give it an “average” but still like it more that the 1st.

    • December 16, 2014 at 12:22 pm

      After the onslaught of CGI battles, I found the Laketown stuff to be a reprieve. It wasn’t well written or acted, but at least it wasn’t another CGI battle. Yes, I agree that they did a great job with Smaug. Most of the CGI budget must have gone into him. The dragon should look good, and at least that part didn’t disappoint.

  2. December 18, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Desolation of Smaug is the first ever film, in my whole bleeding entire life, where I’ve actually nodded off in the cinema when I went to see it. Lord almighty was it bad and the pacing was terrible. The whole barrel thing? FFS.

  3. December 18, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    The entire Erebor sequence, IMO, should have lasted about 30 minutes, tops. The drawn out “fight” between the dwarves and Smaug was utterly stupid – especially considering that about fifteen minutes earlier they’s been stumped by a locked stone door (duh!). I’m a fan of these movies (I have to be, I’m too nerdy not to be) but I think Jackson’s decision to throw in a whole bunch of extra stuff, and take the focus off Bilbo (the most egregious problem I have with this trilogy) is a sign of a director over whom oversight is no longer a factor.

  4. 5 THE Hal E. Burton 9000
    December 27, 2014 at 2:40 am

    I’m not surprised, sadly.

    Too many good, even great, directors seem to forget the magic they once had and they attempt to recapture it with some overblown, cliche-fest of an “epic” to no avail.

    That being said, at least one upside is there will be an inevitable stripped-down, circa three-hour fan edit of all three of The Hobbit movies that may be good, perhaps bordering on being as great as LotR at times.

    I should be more upset by these Hobbit movies than most of the reboot/sequel/franchise fever of roughly the last ten years considering how good LotR was. LotR did have some flaws, though. The Two Towers really had no business being full length and could have easily been split onto the other films without batting an eye. (Sorry for the pun, it could not helped.) Return of the King is one of the biggest teases of a movie ever with so many fake endings you start to think it’s either self-parody or Peter Jackson is a huge fan of Clue. Too many of the shots either lingered too long on a subject or were too close-up for no good reason other than “it lookz kewl, bro,” but thankfully not to the degree of Michael Bay or even Paul Greengrass. The whole scene of the stabbing and fall of Saruman should not have been cut. Also, what could be the biggest plot hole in movie history that everyone seems to acknowledge, the gang could have simply taken the Ring on the back of one of those eagle gods to be dropped off at Mount Doom to end all the bloodshed in literally one fell swoop yet failed to do so. Those border on nitpicking, but they were easy enough for me to remember without much recollection and I have not seen LotR all the way through since 2007.

    Regardless, it feels like all those flaws in LotR were all magnified ten-fold in The Hobbit. It really sucks that Guillermo del Toro dropped out. He was most perfect for The Hobbit, the material feels like it was specifically written for his style of directing, which makes Jackson’s eventual, directorial involvement seem unconvincing as it is inappropriate. The Hobbit was clearly intended to be a duology and you really can feel it, especially the first third of Part 1, just over half of Part 2, and, after the first five minutes or so, much of Part 3.

    For me however, the biggest over-arching problem, one that is becoming inescapable with all these tent-pole movies (that is a real industry term), is what I have dubbed “Harry Potter” syndrome.

    One, adapt from source material that contains highly fantastical elements that are generally not meant to actually be seen, just “imagined,” including the most basic visuals, sounds, etc., therefore making a good adaptation almost impossible since what you imagined in your mind as written is never going to be the same, or even close to similar, to someone else imagining the same idea. (Hope that made sense.)

    Two, the main protagonist is no longer someone the audience is intended to empathize with and relate to; that character is now a “blank slate” with no internal depth on any level or even a character arc of their own whose sole purpose is so the audience can fully project their feelings and personal identity onto them. I could go on with that one point alone for days about why that is a very bad thing beyond the making of bad films, but I will save that for another time and place. It is as if the main character has been stripped from a video game, so the movie now becomes a video game that you cannot “play” and are instead forced to watch endless, terrible cut scenes in lieu of interactivity, unless they later produce a licensed game of the movie, which usually sucks save for Goldeneye and The World is Not Enough on Nintendo 64, Sunsoft’s Batman (1989) on NES, Aladdin on Sega Genesis, Treyarch’s Spider-Man 2 on home consoles (not PC/Mac or mobile), and Argonaut’s / Eurocom’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on PlayStation 2 (ironic, I know).

    Three, the most potentially interesting character, oftentimes more than one oddly, is made to be secondary in sacrifice to the overall plot arc and/or main protagonist’s character arc (even if there is neither).

    Four, an over-abundance of action sequences every ten-to-fifteen minutes peppered with quick cuts, shakycam, etc., that end up actually grinding the film to a halt rather than keeping a brisk pace, which appear to be patented for the placation of ADD/ADHD sufferers and non-English speakers (who not-so-coincidentally happen to be the ever-growing primary, target audience of these tent-poles) who do not have be bothered with subtitles or the pesky budget line item for dubbing casts.

    Five, the over-use and reliance on digital effects, and not just dodgy CGI but also bad digital sound effects and terrible sound design and editing, too often takes one out of a film and makes me wonder if Hollywood is only exists in part to keep all these “digital artists” out of the unemployment line.

    Six, a witless, hackneyed screenplay that’s either questionably dark and bleak in tone without any greater meaning in relation to the plot or characters and/or the humor is so lowest-common-denominator and uninspired that I hope and pray in vain for the resurrection of the kind of comedy of 1980’s-era Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray (his selling out to the hipster bitcoin makes me so sad), John Landis, Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, the late Harold Ramis, the late John Hughes, the late John Candy, etc. so that the Judd Apatow / Todd Phillips / Ehren Kruger / Kevin Williamson / Chuck Lorre generation of hacks could return to the abyss to never again see the light of day.

    Finally, seven, music blows. Another rant I could go on for days about, being part of the bigger problem of mainstream / pop music being for the birds and there being no such thing as “pop music” anymore as it has been defined since the 1950’s. But for music scores in particular, I think an old quote from Danny Elfman is suitable here: ‘I detest contemporary scoring and dubbing in cinema. Film music as an art took a deep plunge when Dolby stereo hit. Stereo has the capacity to make orchestral music sound big and beautiful and more expansive, but it also can make sound effects sound four times as big. That began the era of sound effects over music. It’s easier to let sound effects be big and just jump out and do everything than it is to let music do the same thing.’

    Outside of The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel, Disney/Marvel (for the most part, excluding the first Thor), Raimi’s Spider-Man pre-Spider-Man 3, the first two X-Men movies, and X-Men First Class, “Harry Potter” syndrome has persisted for the last fifteen years in most every single franchise with no end in sight (Twilight, all the attempts to clone Twilight, Transformers, all the attempts to clone Transformers, Hunger Games, Amazing Twilight-man, Fast/Furious, on and on and on, etc.).

    • January 8, 2015 at 3:27 pm

      I can’t say I disagree with you. Most of your points are spot-on. I think your “Harry Potter syndrome” is true of any book adapted to film. Everything is up to the reader’s imagination, and once it hits the screen, the reader sees what someone else imagined, and it is usually a disappointment. I have to say, though, they did a great job adapting Harry Potter. They did actual adaptations (i.e. streamlining the story so it will work in a visual medium) of the books. This is unlike The Hobbit, where it’s just a non-stop shitfest that has very little to do with the book.

  5. 7 downsyndromextreme@aol.com
    January 14, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    thanks was wondering why noone was complaining about legolas/lostlady

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December 2014


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