Tuesday 21 January 2014

From Page to Screen - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Adapted from The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (George Allen & Unwin, 1937)


MARTIN FREEMAN ~ Bilbo Baggins
IAN McKELLEN ~ Gandalf the Grey


What’s it about?
The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug. Bilbo Baggins is in possession of a mysterious and magical ring.

Summary from IMDB.com

How does it hold up?
I loved the first instalment of The Hobbit and I was terrified I wouldn’t get to see this in the cinema. Luckily, my older brother and sister came to the rescue and we saw it and were blown away.

We saw it in DBox, which I’ve never seen before. The film was clearly made for 3D; it was in the movements of the camera and the sweeping scenery and action sequences, but DBox worked with it really well too. Just in case you’re not sure, all DBox means is that the seats move and vibrate during the film. I was a little dubious at first but it was really cool, though it did make me jump a few times... The movements really accentuated the fight scenes and put you in the eyes of the characters as you mimicked their movements. I think that if I were to see it again I might actually go for 3D, just to see if I was right about some of the scenes I thought were engineered for it!

Speaking of scenes and scenery; blood hell! I thought The Unexpected Journey and LotR looked incredible, but that was nothing on The Desolation of Smaug! Peter Jackson has some vision. To be honest, I can summarise the landscapes of this movie in just one word: epic. They are so vivid and alive that they’re practically characters in their own right and if it wouldn’t mean certain death, I’d love to explore them myself. But it’s not just the sets and scenery, the attention to detail in the costumes and props is extraordinary. And it’s all just so much more than I imagined when I read the novel. There’s a scope and a range that I couldn’t picture for myself.

That extends to the characters as well for me. When I read The Hobbit, I felt as if I was reading a novel driven entirely by plot and that the characters were there merely to carry it out. That definitely wasn’t the case in the film. Every character had a character and there were clear connections and relationships between them that I really don’t remember there being in the novel.

I especially loved Tauriel. I didn’t remember her at all from the novel, but she’s incredible. To have a strong, powerful woman in an important position in a fantasy world written so long ago is unusual, and to have her turn away and follow her own beliefs is brilliant. Her connection with Legolas was sweet, but it was her connection with Kili that I loved. That right there it was starts a fan fiction revolution. I also just really like the Elves. I can’t quite decide what it is about them, I just kinds want to be one, if I’m honest.

I have to admit that when I watched The Unexpected Journey in the cinema last year, it was my first proper introduction to Middle Earth. I hadn’t seen the LotR films and hadn’t even considered reading the books so I was pretty unaware of any subtle connections or hat-tips to the trilogy, but I really did in this one. I loved how in the few times Bilbo used the Ring, we began to see it affect him. I also thought the effects of it were shown visually through the grey blurring as well. Very clever.

I thoroughly loved The Desolation of Smaug. Put it this way, I got home and bought the Lord of the Rings trilogy to read. Yeah, I have impossible goals. Bring on There and Back Again.

Rating: 9/10

Book or film?
For the first time since Stardust, I choose the film. I struggled with the novel and nothing about the film lagged and I loved that there was so much more character relationship in the film. So yes, film.


1 comment:

  1. Agree with pretty much everything - scenery was amazing, the elves are always cool, Tauriel and Kili were adorable! But I loved Smaug, he was so very impressive :D


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