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The Desolation Of Smaug, Based On The Novel “Push” By Sapphire

December 14th, 2013

Like many, I was underwhelmed by the first installment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit film trilogy.* It’s significant that I only saw it once in the theater, and still haven’t bought the Blu-Ray.

I’m similarly with the consensus on part two, The Desolation of Smaug. It’s certainly a step up from An Unexpected Journey, even as it remains a long trek from Jackson’s triumphant take on The Lord of the Rings.

I think that it’s probably time that we stop referring to this as an adaptation of The Hobbit and call it “sorta suggested by” the book. It follows the same general premise of a bunch of dwarves and their reluctant burglar on a quest to recover a dragon’s hoard, but is so far removed from the source material that it’s very nearly an original story that happens to be set in Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

It’s one thing to shoehorn LOTR‘s Legolas the elf into the story, as the novels established him as the son of the Elvenking of The Hobbit. As an immortal, he surely would’ve been around when Thorin and his dwarves came calling.

But the addition of an elven love interest named Tauriel is a bit harder to accept. Certainly, Middle Earth is short on female characters, and as portrayed by Evangeline Lilly, Tauriel kicks all kind of orcish ass. Still, the romantic subplot between her and Kili the dwarf (or is it Fili?) is just…odd.

Another major deviation from the book is that the dwarves are given much more agency. In the original story, they were mostly peril monkeys in need of constant rescuing by Bilbo. Thorin’s claim on the treasure of the Lonely Mountain seemed especially weak considering how little he’d done to win it. But in The Desolation of Smaug, there’s a huge action set piece in which he and his crew lure the dragon into a trap.

Imagine, if you will, a remake of To Kill a Mockingbird in which Bob Ewell hires bounty hunters to track down Atticus Finch and Dill has a hot older cousin who pursues a secretive affair with Boo Radley. That’s the effect of watching The Desolation of Smaug on someone who grew up with the novels.

None of which is to say that I didn’t enjoy it, or that I won’t see it a second time. After all, I’ve only experienced the 2D version. There are still so many options: 3D, IMAX, high-frame rate and D-Box motion seat. There’s a Hobbit for everyone.

*Though now that I look back at my review, I see that my initial reaction was more positive. 

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