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Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby Sinestro27 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 7:17 pm

The ultimate punch line of this review is at the end; "Oh well, at least we got a couple of good sets from this movie that I hated.". Lol. Seems weird to me, if I dislike a movie, I don't drop a couple hundred bucks on some merchandise. That would be ridiculous...
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby onions » Tue Dec 17, 2013 8:12 pm

i think it's safe to say that we're not against action movies or movies from the sci-fi genre. but it doesn't matter if it's an action movie with wizards and sorcery and battles. a stupid movie is a stupid movie, no matter how much action is thrown in.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby Darth Jokar » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:07 pm

Geez ya so negative. I thought movie was good. Yes Peter Jackson is a douchbag for turning what should've been 2 movies into 3. But it's a movie. It's purpose to entertain.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby dWhisper » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:29 pm

The Atlantic: Desolation of Smaug is Bad Fan Fiction
NPR: Bilbo's Back, With More Baggage Than Ever
Rolling Stone gives the movie 2 1/2 Stars

I know, my problem is a total lack of imagination and just wanting to see the book, word for word. That's why I said that I wanted to see a lot more dwarf singing, and didn't say this:

Books are a different medium, and have to tell stories a different way. But at the same time, the best adaptations honor the book and the stories behind it. The worst just cannibalize the source to do something that borderlines on (or sometimes just skips straight to) insulting fans of the source.


If you think what Peter Jackson is doing with these three movies is about his artistic goals and imagination, and not about money and trying to build his own golden treasure horde, you're kidding yourself. Let me be clear, there's nothing wrong with a directory trying to cash in, the very idea of "selling out" is absurd in a medium where you're getting paid for your work. Is his "imagination" at work in the movies? Sure. But the reason for most of the changes is to make it more popcorn feature.

The Marvel cinematic features are probably the best example of something based on a (comic) book and turned into excellent movies. They changed the source and showed imagination, but managed to stay true to the soul of the characters behind it. And we're talking about movies that are just as impossible as what The Hobbit gives us, with action that was as over the top... yet put more purpose and plot behind it.

The Battle of New York in The Avengers was probably as long, featured floating alien monsters and a giant flying snake... thing. Yet because it fit into the overarching story, had a good plot and characterization around it, and had build-up, it all worked.

And there are plenty of movies, based on books or other source material, that work, make changes and updates, and incredibly enjoyable. I mean, the first Pirates of the Caribbean film was based on an amusement part ride. The Godfather was based on a book. 2001 was written at the same time the book was. Shawshank Redemption, based on a Stephen King short story, deviated from the story and is the top rated story. The original Lord of the Rings trilogy deviated from the book, but still told a great movie.

And there are plenty of original movies that are action heavy, but manage to still be good. The Matrix is a great example. But what made it good wasn't all the CGI and action, it was the story behind it. The second film took the original Matrix, added more action, CGI, and a dance number... and it just stunk. Great effects do not equal great movie (and I said that Smaug looked great in there), otherwise Final Fantasy would have been the greatest movie ever made. If action sequences alone could turn a good movie great, The Lone Ranger would be remembered fondly.

For those fans who want to see a good fantasy movie, with good action sequence and stories... I'd suggest just watching the original trilogy. Just like I'd suggest watching the Star Wars OT over the PT, despite the PT having big budgets and in-depth CGI.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby CloneEmperor » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:49 pm

Sinestro27 wrote:A whole bunch of angry stuff that basically boils down to "How dare you have a negative opinion about something"
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby banthafodder » Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:43 pm

Like Ace, I have not read the books so I did not have a lot of preconceptions on how the film should be. I quite enjoyed the action scenes and most of the movie. Where it did fall flat was at the end with no resolutions to anything as others have stated. Smaug went from a very intrigueing character when conversing with Bilbo to an easily distracted, squirrel, sorry where was I, puppy at the end. With no real ending to the movie it just left a bad taste in my mouth, or maybe it was the stale popcorn, that made me forget about how enjoyable some of the other scenes were.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby lowlead » Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:40 am

I'm late 30s now, but way back in my middle and high school days it was a tradition of mine to start with The Hobbit around Thanksgiving, and read through the Rings trilogy by Christmas (please, spare me the slow reader comments :D) I did this for several years, and it was one of my favorite ways to enjoy the holiday season. What's great is, those exact same books are right at my fingertips should I elect to dive back into Middle Earth.

With regard to PJs version, I certainly agree with a lot of what was said in the above posts: Elf-Dwarf love? Thank you, no. Yes, Peter, we get it, Legolas is an amazing athlete. Laws of physics are a little different in Middle Earth, eh? Heck, there were even moments in the LOTR movies that bugged me. HOWEVER....

None of the nitpicks mentioned here and elsewhere annoyed me to the extent that it made the 2, soon to be 3, films un-watchable - like certain OTHER prequels. And I think that is my personal litmus test: I'll watch The Hobbit and LOTR movies many times over, I cannot say the same for the SW prequels - can't even sit through them.

I happen to like every appendix piece Jackson elected to include. After all, The Hobbit only existed in a vacuum for a limited time. Once Tolkien published the LOTR, then the Silmarillion posthumously by Christopher, the whole narrative of The Hobbit suddenly became a few small chapters in an enormous body of work. So three Hobbit films suit me just fine, as it was a perfect opportunity to deliver to the screen all things Dwarvish, and I'm glad they'll make millions. So what's next? A Silmarillion Quintology? Cool, let's see it.

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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby dWhisper » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:23 am

banthafodder wrote:Like Ace, I have not read the books so I did not have a lot of preconceptions on how the film should be. I quite enjoyed the action scenes and most of the movie. Where it did fall flat was at the end with no resolutions to anything as others have stated. Smaug went from a very intrigueing character when conversing with Bilbo to an easily distracted, squirrel, sorry where was I, puppy at the end. With no real ending to the movie it just left a bad taste in my mouth, or maybe it was the stale popcorn, that made me forget about how enjoyable some of the other scenes were.


One note I didn't really cover in this, but did in my review of the first film... I only read The Hobbit once, for a college class, and didn't have all that many pre-conceptions of what the movie should be. That is, past what I know the tone of the book to be, and the tone of the Lord of the Rings (which i've only read parts of). But there's a mythos around the books, and an intention of the writer, that was central to all of the books, especially The Hobbit.

That tone and intention are important, especially if you look at what influenced Tolkien's writing around the hobbit. He'd been an officer in World War 1 and had been involved in the horrors of trench warfare first hand, losing most of his friends from school in the process. After that, he watched the depression unfold and the rise of fascism.

The underlying theme in The Hobbit is the reluctant hero. Bilbo is effectively tricked to get him out of the Shire, driven by the promise of adventure. In the movie, Gandalf basically armed him with Sting when it came up, instead of Bilbo finding it and deciding to join the fight. There is a close parallel between that moment and the moment where Frodo decides to take the ring to Mordor at the Council... reluctance, but making the decision for himself.

At its core, The Hobbit is a light-hearted children's tale that's about fantastical things like elves, goblins, and trolls. It's about a broken people (The Dwarves), the price of greed, and coming together. It was entirely possible to take those things, or the spirit of those things, and turn them into a good movie that didn't rely on what I will still maintain is overly-ridiculous action to go from scene to scene.

An aside though about the updates to it, yes, Tolkien did expand and build on it. He even tried to update it but the complaint that came back as soon as anyone review it was "just wasn't the Hobbit." Trying to take that original story and give it the tone of the later books simply didn't work, because it boiled away the essence of that.

That's the biggest issue I have with these movies. It's not that it just boils away the essence of the book (though it certainly does), it's that it does the same thing to the Lord of the Rings movies that came before it. The action in those movies was crazy and there were moments of it being over the top (pretty much anything with Legolas), but those are tiny flaws in a much larger and better thing.

The Battle of Helm's Deep was probably as long as the entire... thing... with Smaug, yet we were enthralled by it. PJ made some pretty big changes there too... what with the elves and all, but it served to spice the dish instead of cover it up. By contrast, none of the action in Desolation came off as part of anything bigger or better. It was just there to show off CGI, fancy pictures, and, as Faefrost said, we got probably the perfect D&D movie. I mean, one of the heroes even got shot in the knee with an arrow! The Hobbit inspired pretty much all of fantasy that came after it, and all of the modern high fantasy we see anymore in books or movies... I should have been more than just emulating the emptiest of what the genre is now.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby Inzane » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:58 am

Sinestro27 wrote: Who in the hell wants to se all that crap?!?! How dare he!!!

LOL. When did action become a bad thing again? I missed when that happened.

Let go a little, people. Dream a little. Imagine just a bit, sit back at the movies, and be grateful you're even watching a multi million dollar production

it must suck hating on all the stuff that you grew up loving.

if you hate one big action sequence after another,


^^ I sure hope you don't apply that same logic to try and defend Transformers 2. :facepalm:
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby Mandalorian Candidat » Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:12 am

dWhisper wrote:As for the other guy, Luke Evans... I haven't really seen anything else he's been in, or at least I don't remember him. Clash of the Titans was so bad I shut it off. I didn't even realize they made a new Three Musketeers movie (really, didn't that Disney version end those once-and-for-all), and I haven't watched Fast & Furious 6 yet. He's also apparently tied to the remake of The Crow, a remake of a terrible movie with a great soundtrack responsible for all the goth kids produced in the 90s. Maybe Orlando Bloom would have been a better cast...


I was really bored last night and decided to put on Netflix. There was a movie called The Raven based on Edgar Allen Poe's works--sort of a Sleepy Hollow/Tim Burton-esque B-movie. Luke Evans is a inspector with the Baltimore PD tracking down a killer who has been using themes from Poe's stories to kill off his victims. Really overdone (chewing the scenery) and a tepid thriller. I had never heard of this actor before, which doesn't mean much because many of the LotR actors were decent but just not well known in American cinema at the time, but he didn't leave an impression on me.

I did like the "My name is Inigo Montoya" line. He almost could have done that in the Raven movie.


Bummer to hear about this movie. I was excited to watch it but hearing about the prolonged action sequences is sounding like a turn off. Many of the past summer movies had way too much long and drawn out fight scenes that bored me. Man of Steel and The Wolverine come to mind. If the movie only goes up to the part where Smaug leaves the mountain, then what besides the Battle of the Five Armies is going to be in the final movie? Even Return of the King had to have parts of The Two Towers in it to keep the movie from being short, if you consider 2.5-3.5 hours as short.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby dWhisper » Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:58 am

They've basically set up Smaug attacking Lake Town as a much bigger deal than it was in the book, as well as a big escape and survival scene for Bard. He was locked in prison at the end of the movie, the black arrow that will down Smaug is hidden in a boat somewhere by his son, and... well, that was about it. The dwarves have technically taken the mountain, so there's that as well, and there could be the animosity part as well.

But mostly, what's left is "this shouldn't have been three movies."
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby FirstCircle » Wed Dec 18, 2013 1:18 pm

DISCLAIMER: This is a bloated and long post, so for that, I apologize. Here we go...

My opinion on these Hobbit films might make me a weirdo in this case... for two reasons.

1) I generally am not fond of mainstream action films. I like action, but I prefer it just a tad smarter. The Bourne series is a tad smarter... and it is, admittedly, ridiculous, but has scenes that are more realistic just because of a few details... example: first movie, he's in the Swiss embassy, he disables several embassy workers and runs up the stairs. How does he figure out how to escape? He grabs a walkie talkie and snatches a map off the wall. Of course the firefight at the end, culminating in the "human body ride" to the bottom of the basement is groan inducing.

2) I felt that there was absolutely no reason, at this point, to make any Hobbit film... period. The salient material was covered (sometimes clunkily and awkwardly, in regards to pacing) in the first trilogy. While I don't think the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy is perfect, I think it's outstandingly good. No movie is perfect, it can't be... there are too many people involved for such a large venture to be flawless.

It would have been great (and Jackson wanted to do this) to make a Hobbit film and then do the trilogy, but that just wasn't realistic due to, understandable, studio constraints. I thought the end result covered all of the bases.

Ergo, I just really couldn't care if this new Hobbit trifecta obliterates the source material or not. To be honest, I'm perfectly fine with this being an excuse to smash in stuff from compendiums and appendices, as well fabricate characters. Why not? The Hobbit is a short book. It's a fun adventure. If you haven't really read it, it's fantastical and awe inspiring. There are life-and-death situations, but then things move on. This is entirely different from LotR, where everything is overshadowed by doom. There is little hope. And it's all about the fate of the world. The Hobbit is just about the fate of characters in it. It's anti-climactic to go back to it. What little material there is has already been done, so why not create fun filler?

I would be totally cool with unnecessary references to the Necromancer and whatnot if it was entertaining. After all, why else would anyone plop their butt down in a seat to watch this? It's because everyone doing so is a fan of the OT. They just want to see more on-screen representations of the world.

Do I like these movies? No. I would be fine with lots of creative license, but these are just awful. I can shut my brain off to try to enjoy a romp, but when contradicting aspects keep raping my face, it's just impossible to enjoy myself.

Didn't we already establish that elves can't get drunk in The Two Towers? -"It's a drinking game?"

As Nick already mentioned what's up with Smaug sniffling out Bilbo and the ring, then losing track of him and the dwarves he could already smell?

As a matter of a fact, just how did Smaug know that Thorin had a band of dwarves coming to sneak in and reclaim Erebor?

Why would Smaug torch everything in sight, and be tricked into lighting the forges, then not continue to torch the wee thieves that he already knew were coming while they're running around in front of him? "Oh no, let me smash down this wall and give you guys time to do something to harm me." Why not just torch 'em until they look dead then bang your way in?

After the barrel chase the dwarves claim they need weapons, because they'll be sitting ducks on their way to the Lonely Mountain. What about the weapons you just had from disarming hordes of orcs? If it was that easy, why would they ever need to worry about weapons? They just ambush a few, disarm, then kill, and use newly acquired weapons to massacre everything in their path. Why were they weaponless after that anyway? Oh, the plot needed an excuse to get the Hobbits to sneak into Laketown.

This is also a problem because of the action. Of course this is a problem because of the oft-loved PG-13 rating. The first film was abominable, the violence was cartoony and completely unbelievable, it looked like someone playing a difficult section of a video game. The second was pretty violent, but over the top, therefore kind of cartoony, therefore passable as PG-13 as long as there was no blood. The OT should never have been allowed as PG-13, they pulled some strings to get that one passed. Realistically, there's no way we could see any kind of sword and shield violence look really good in these films, because Jackson already spent that card for the first 3 films. Therefore, it must look somewhat silly.

That being said, part of the action is okay with me. Even the barrel romp doesn't drive me nuts (I'm suspending my disbelief) until the fat Hobbit rolls off and pulverizes everything in his path, then stops, pops out his arms replete with weapons, then proceeds to spin like a top annihilating everything in his path (disbelief shattered) until he gets back into the river. Ugh.

But let's get to the most glaring problem.

It's hard to like any of these characters. The only likeable characters are the side characters. Tauriel is the most amiable and genuinely likeable character out of the bunch. She has a clear sense of right and wrong (she'll even break her country's laws to do the right thing) she take a risk for others entirely for selfless reasons and she'll risk life and limb to hunt someone down in the hope of healing him in time ( even if it is partially for seflish reasons).

Balin is very likeable, as is the pretty dwarf (KIlli?) and the silly hat dward (Bofur?). Thorin is just a jerk. As are most of the dwarves. Bilbo isn't even really likeable, because he's not doing anything because it's fulfilling his sense of duty or honor, or even for any kind of sense of the sheer joy of challenge, he just doesn't want to be ashamed for being a schlep. He wants to prove to Thorin that he belongs there. He doesn't seem to like the dwarves. There is only a tenuous connection with them. That's broken when Smaug talks about the corruption and Thorin's pissy clamouring for the Arkenstone after he gets out.

And another inconsistency. In the first film, Thorin says he doesn't belong. Then Bilbo comes to Thorin's rescue, then he says he belongs. So now, Bilbo is skulking in Smaug's layer and Throrin doesn't want to help a thief. WHAT?

I understand most of your criticisms. I agree with many.

This is better than the first film, but it's hard not to just tear it apart after the fact.

I can enjoy a silly action movie, but for something that just teeters toward complete absurdity, I'd rather watch the latest Fast & Furious installment, because, as ridiculous as they are, those films don't take themselves seriously.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby dWhisper » Wed Dec 18, 2013 2:06 pm

Ugh, thanks a lot. I'd forgotten that Bombor in a barrel thing. The real question I had when he jumped back in the water is "how did his barrel get repaired" after he punched holes in it.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby FirstCircle » Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:33 pm

If memory serves, the barrel the "Fat Joke Dwarf" inhabited was destroyed by the time he jumped back into water. I think he jumped into a spare.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby scandell » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:05 pm

I also very much hated this installment of the films. Ugh. Legolos' shining blue electric eyes were bothersome...and his overly-confident nimbleness and footwork really take me right of feeling the danger.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby FirstCircle » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:44 pm

The over-the-top elvishness doesn't really bother me. In a way, I kind of like it. I know, I know.

Bear with me...

Tolkein describes elves as these otherworldly beings that imbue everything around them with some kind of positive magic. When they step, they don't leave footprints, not because they're amazing at tracking and counter-insurgency, it's because they're magic... and they magically can be noiseless and walk on snow, blah, blah... A lot of you may hate that. I can understand why, but I kinda like it.

So in the barrel chase, it's in keeping with the elves ability to step on the dwarves heads to maneuver, it just get obnoxious when it happens over and over, because it's a gag... don't abuse the gag. Maybe it could have been done once for a hearty chuckle, but that's it.

Most of the "elvishness" that people hate in the OT I think is in keeping with the books. Legolas swinging up onto a horse or a Mumakil is kind of what I imagined when I read the books. The end result is just kind of silly looking and I think it could have been done a little better, but the spirit of it is fine. Now, sliding down the stairs on the shield and then skipping it as a wake board death device is just horrific.

What's actually worse is Gimli as a bumbling, bombastic piece of undersized comic relief. In the novels, like all the non-Hobbit members of the fellowship, he is an ultra badass and slaughters orcs left and right. In the book, the death count competition makes sense, because they are both so good at killing, their abilites are on par with one another. In the OT, he's just a strong idiot who I'd rather see dead.

While I did eventually find much of the action tiring, I kind of liked the hot elf-on-orc action. The action in this was better than in the first flick, it's the storytelling that is completely missing. I don't mind Legolas being over the top, it's just that he shouldn't be there at all, especially with that much screen time. I would rather have had some other elven character... maybe one from the myriad appedices... why not? It's better than risking a violation of the continuity created in the first 3 films about Middle Earth.

I just couldn't help but notice that Orlando Bloom now looks like a man. He looked like a tall boy in the OT, now he looks like a filled out dude. You can't fix everything in post.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby dWhisper » Thu Dec 19, 2013 6:54 am

The action with the elves didn't bug me because of the action, per se, more the fact that the action was too often unbelievable (like the arrow through two separate orc skulls). As for the elves, the big knock in The Hobbit is that they are nowhere near the elves that as they appeared in the story outside of martial prowess. Elves in his books were basically a synonym for angels or pre-fallen man from the Adam/Eve myth.

They were effectively perfect... which I'll admit makes for a very boring character. They were somewhat boring back then, and that's why the changes in Lord of the Rings actually improved on them. While still generally superior and respected, they also were smug and aloof, and that still fit the characterization. Legolas was described as one of the greatest warriors in the books, even among the elves, so that much doesn't fit. But when that action stops being believable, it's gone from being a great warrior to just having a lot of magic or something like that, and it cheapens the character.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby Mister Ed » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:20 pm

Sinestro27 wrote:If however, you're more like my wife and I, and you don't mind Jackson embellishing a bit, if you love tons of action and wizardry and swordplay, if you love seeing locales like Laketown ripped straight from the book in terms of feel and appearance, if you have an imagination and can let go and enjoy a FANTASY movie, then you might just have a good time. See it in IMAX 3D if you can.

Oh and remember, 75% positive reviews from critics and an 87% positive score from movie watchers says this guy is WRONG. Who can you trust more: Millions of people, or twenty obtuse nerds on a LEGO website? Hmmmmm.....

I'll end it now so that you may commence the inevitable and irrelevant "Jackson Lover" comments. I know guys, I'm such a loser. I actually liked something.


I love how you attempt to set up your opinion as unassailably "right". OF COURSE anybody that disagrees with you is wrong, and an "obtuse nerd". It goes without saying! (Not that that stopped you from saying it.)

I'm inclined to take any opinion followed by some kind of statement that predicts disagreement, and acts like such disagreement will be proof positive of the wrongness of it with a HUGE grain of salt.

Guess what? I enjoyed the first Hobbit movie. Quite a lot. Yet I still think it failed miserably as an attempt to adapt The Hobbit to the big screen. It was an exciting and enjoyable fantasy flick, with a few scenes that successfully evoked parts of the book I enjoyed as a child (and an adult), but far too many other scenes that departed wildly, for no readily apparent reason (if the intent was to adapt The Hobbit vs. just making an exciting Fantasy flick) from the tone and/or events of the book. Word for word adaptation is not what is called for. The LotR movies sure didn't have that. But if you want me to take a film seriously as an adaptation of a book, it needs to be more recognizable than the first Hobbit film was, in all but a few exceedingly well handled places.
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Re: Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Postby naugem » Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:33 pm

Probably too late to join the discussion, but I thought I'd share my opinion anyway.

First a little background: I read the LotR books before the movies came out. I thought the books were OK (too slow and descriptive for my taste), and liked the films better. I haven't read The Hobbit.

I didn't like the first Hobbit film, not because it deviated from the book, but because it was obviously a children's tale, that looked like the LotR movies but didn't play like them. The whole battle with the Goblins was nauseating, it was like watching The Phantom Menace all over again. Ditto the dwarves singing while washing the dishes.

So my problem was one of expectations. Not having read The Hobbit, I was expecting something similar to the LotR movies. My bad.

But I think I wasn't alone, because The Desolation of Smaug is more similar in tone to the LotR movies than to the first Hobbit film. The tone is more serious, there are more deaths and the danger feels more palpable.

Most people complain about the changes to the source material. My main problem with the film is that Jackson didn't dare to make more changes to it, and to make the tale fit better (in tone) with the LotR trilogy. It's like he wanted to change the tone of the film, but still keep the core tale intact, so he added more characters and fights, but when the dwarves are involved, silly things happen because they're the core of the children's tale, and Jackson didn't dare kill any of them before the book says he should (if at all).

So I think the main problems with the film are there because they wanted to make a trilogy that both purists and LotR-movie fans would enjoy, and they ended up with something that doesn't fulfill either group expectations.

All that being said, I did enjoy The Desolation of Smaug, which I can't say about An Unexpected Journey. I liked Tauriel, Legolas and Bard and the focus on them (maybe the dwarves are more interesting in the book?). The parts that made my eyes roll mostly had to do with the dwarves, either by them doing childish things (Bombur in the barrel), or by them surviving unscathed against all odds (battle against Smaug).
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