Monday, December 30, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

2013, US/New Zealand, directed by Peter Jackson

Though I still had a good deal of trouble telling the various dwarves apart -- especially since, despite the running time, there's still not enough room to give them all something really distinctive to do -- this is a considerable improvement of the first entry in this jerry-rigged trilogy. I'm generally not a big fan of any storyline involving the elvish characters, but here they contribute to a number of the more memorable set pieces, particularly the semi-comic barrel-racing fight, and, in a quieter register, the through-the-cell-bars conversation between one of the dwarves and the new character Tauriel, a character moment of a kind that Jackson did so well in the original trilogy, but notable more by its absence in these Hobbit films. Both as a bit of CGI wizardry and as a nice structural counterpart to the first film's meeting with Gollum, the extended encounter between Bilbo and Smaug is well handled, too, even if it's not clear why Smaug's patience extends as long as it does. It's the old Bond movie question: why doesn't the villain just off Bond instead of indulging in conversation?

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States