Ellen Million (ellenmillion) wrote,
Ellen Million

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaaaaauuuuug (a review)

In the middle of Fairbanks, was a theater where the Hobbit played.

It is, perhaps, a bit of a stretch to say the middle of Fairbanks, since it is the mostly historical district by the river that is generally agreed to be downtown, but the road with the theater was one of the most traveled in Fairbanks, with a vast selection of fast food across the four lanes of traffic (eight, if one counts the two frontage roads). It wasn't the nicest theater, either - with its noisy arcade and sticky floors, and its concession counter with lines that were staggeringly slow. Once you had finally shuffled to the front of the line (peeling your shoes off the floor at each step), they charged $11.25 for a small soda and a bag full of popcorn that was so caustic with salt it felt like pepper on dry lips.

It was, however, the only theater in town, unless you count the bar with the room that converts to a theater with a few dozen airline seats and half-rate sound. (The food at the latter is vastly better and cheaper, and the addition of beer to the menu recommends it greatly.)

At the theater in the middle of Fairbanks... what is the Hobbit? I suppose this movie needs a little explanation, since it so little resembles the book, having already been stretched from a single book into three lengthy dramas, with the movie as presented for review being the second. There is a Bilbo, and a motley crew of dwarves of copious facial hair (though rather less than I had always imagined, particularly in the case of the youngest of them) on a Quest that does slightly resemble the original tome. And there is a dragon, who makes it into the title of this installment of video entertainment, but he does not make an appearance until nearly the end of the movie, and the actors manage to make his name into several syllables rather than keeping it to a word like the air quality of China, as this reader had always imagined it.

But, it was a good movie. And spoilers do follow, as they usually do in such reviews.

### (Actual review)

My biggest beef with this interpretation of the book is the passage of time. The dwarves go into Mirkwood, wander around for a few minutes, go crazy, get trussed up by spiders, promptly get rescued and then captured by elves, where they spend too short a time to require a bathroom break before being crammed in barrels - OPEN barrels - and shot down a waterpark-waiting-to-happen. The whole journey from start of Mirkwood to the Lonely Mountain appears to take about forty-eight hours. I liked the bits in the novel where they trudged through Mirkwood and lost heart. I liked the part where Bilbo is actually a thief and has to dodge the elves for a week or two. I get that you have to keep things hopping to keep the attention of a modern movie audience, but I also feel like there could have been some nod to the fact that SOME time was passing. I kept wondering where the caffeine drip was, since obviously they never stopped to sleep after their night at Beorn's.

Oh, and the orcs. I can just picture the writer's meeting:

EXEC: Add orcs.

WRITERS: This scene is pretty exciting already, it doesn't actually need orcs.


WRITERS (dryly): Okay, how about we have an elf leap onto dwarf heads and fire arrows into orcs while rushing downstream in bobbing barrels.


WRITERS: *facepalm*

EXEC: Also, we want you to add a romantic sub-plot.

WRITERS: We'll have to add a woman to the cast, unless you want to be really progressive...

EXEC: We're not that progressive. Add a woman! A really bendy woman!

I did like Tauriel. And I agree that the whole movie does set up the Lord of the Rings trilogy much better than the book did. Smaaaauuuuuug was absolutely GORGEOUS, and they definitely did a marvelous job with the CGI.

I was able to suspend my disbelief in the physics of things... except for the gold. Here we go again with the passage of time, because - how long do you think it would take to melt that much gold? Enough gold to not only coat Smaaaauuuuuuug with, but actually fill a hall and flood OVER him into a smooth puddle? Not the few minutes it took our heroes to set the whole thing up, I don't care if you've got a forge lit by dragonfire or not. If it was hot enough to do that, it would have lit the air itself on fire and suffocated everyone in the keep. It takes time to transfer heat, people, and they made a big point about how it started out stone cold*.

I will admit, that gold-plated Smaaaaauuuuuug was certainly pretty. And I'm glad they didn't, at least, pretend it would stick.

In all, a lovely movie. Despite the fact that I desperately had to pee by about hour two and one of my legs had a wicked, wretched cramp that I had no chance of stretching out, and I occasionally wanted to cry foul on the topic of how long it takes to do things, I was riveted to the screen the whole time. I will see the last one on the big screen as well... though I may choose the slightly smaller big screen of the Blue Loon and have a beer and sweet potato fries for considerably less than the soda and popcorn that stripped my wallet.

*Likewise, if it were magical really-fast-heating gold, it would have the same rate of cooling, and would have been completely solidified by the time it got to Smaaaauuuuuggg, such that it would have just hit him with a bunch of lumpy chunks of warm metal, not that pretty, pretty, very liquid gold.
Tags: humor, review

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