40% Tolkien + 60% Jackson = The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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It was about time I went to see Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I won’t review the content of the movie in any detail, but I would like to share my thoughts about how this film should be approached. I’ve been a Tolkien fan since my teenage years and he’s works showed me the way to the fantasy genre for which I’d be eternaly grateful. So I expect that many fans like me will perceive this movie as a disfigured monster version of the written story. Still, I tried to see it as Jackson’s The Hobbit, not Tolkien’s. The two works represent different media, they come from different times, and have partly different target audiences. The children’s book was written before Tolkien had any idea of the majestic trilogy to follow and Jackson had already did his Lord of the Rings trilogy and I believe he tried to make the prequels resemble it, in tone and scope.

It’s more like Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy is “based on” the 1937 children’s book in the sense that the characters have the same names and visit the same places in somewhat the same order (though new characters and places are also added). Their basic motivations are also the same. But beyond that, there is hardly anything that isn’t greatly exagerated and elaborated, mostly so as to allow for a much darker tone and MUCH more fantasy action.

Entire new subplots are freely created and added to the story. The Elf Tauriel and her unlikely flirt with one of the Dwarfs is clearly meant to add a love story. The survival of ALL the protagonists despite their endless meetings with death doesn’t just strain credibilityy.

So, viewed as an independent work, it is a great movie.

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5 thoughts on “40% Tolkien + 60% Jackson = The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

  1. I saw The Hobbit: Part Two for the third time today, and it held up pretty well. Some of my gripes receded a bit with this viewing. I don’t know if I was just feeling less critical today or if it was just because I knew what to expect, but the relationship between Tauriel and Killi flowed better for me this time, and the CGI wasn’t too distractingly bad. Speaking of Smaug, I love how reptilian he is in this — how snake-like, actually. I think his creators studied snakes while making him, how their scales move over flesh and bones, and the effect is eerie. About Cumberlatch and Freeman, I do think it’s hilarious that Bilbo is Smaug’s Watson. Thankfully Peter Jackson refrained from tossing in an “It’s elementary, my dear Bilbo” in there.

    (Reposted from an earlier blog)

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