Friday, December 13, 2013

First impressions from Desolation of Smaug

Keep in mind – this is not a review about how good or not the movie is – it is my impressions about it a.k.a. how much I enjoyed it . 

One thing that I really like about those films is the attention to details ! Each location was very well done and each newly introduce character was joy to watch ! The movie was very dynamic and there were so many things happening . The scenery was beautiful , beautiful as always !

One thing this film nailed completely is the characters ! Great , great casting !
So many cool characters in one movie should be illegal ! I mean – the cast was amazing! Everyone was great !  Smaug was magnificent !

I really liked the movie but it felt not enough ! I was very exhausted by the end and still wanted more . I wanted to spend more time in Mirkwood , and more time in Lake Town ! More time everywhere! I could watch 9 hours version of Desolation of Smaug and I am not joking ;) ! It won’t be very practical though :P

Now I think I cannot go on without spoilers so here they come !


 When I left the movie theater I felt very conflicted . I knew that there will be changes and some sort of confrontation between the dwarves and the dragon but the way it was actually made left me with confused feelings. But I will get to that later .

One general remark – the film felt for me like a piece from something bigger. It has a lot of action , as I said , but it also kind of prepare us for the events coming up in the third movie.  I want to see that final film before I can fully comment on some of the creative choices made in the movie.
I am not sure if DoS can stand on its own. I guess one can watch it knowing nothing of Middle-earth but I am sure that kind of person would feel a little unsatisfied at the end .

Thorin and Gandalf @ Bree

I enjoyed that scene. It explained better the story of the Arkenstone and why it’s important and adds more motivation to some characters’ actions later in the film. It was a character driven scene and did add layers to both Gandalf and Thorin and … it was just such a treat !


Beorn’s house was wonderful ! The enormous bees sure make impression . The breakfast scene , kind of reminded me of the book in a way nothing else fully did .  I wanted more of it ! But I guess we gonna get more in the extended edition . I liked Beorn talking about how he doesn’t like dwarves but not liking orcs even more . He is really special character !


Mirkwood was one of my favorite places from the book and I was so looking forward to that ! It also went on pretty fast but it was really gloomy and moody and with good sinister atmosphere .


Again kind of shorter than I thought but totally cool scene . The spiders were creepy and obviously very hungry . The most interesting for me was to watch Bilbo’s evolving “relationship” with the One Ring. It was nice to see how the ring starts to  influence the hobbit and to see Bilbo realizing how attached he is getting to this small thing. It's arguable if he got attached to it too quickly or not – but  it was very well played moment and I liked it .


I love Thranduil ! I love Lee Pace as Tranduil . The elven king was so haughty ,  cold and distant but all so elvish in this manners that I was bound to like him . One can suddenly tell he has been on this world a long time .  He feels so different from Elrond .

The Elves 
I just adore all surrounding the wood elves ! Unfortunately Bilbo found a way to get the dwarves out a little bit too fast so we couldn’t see enough partying elves drinking wine but I will keep that part for my imagination , haha. ;)
The way Legolas and Tauriel were introduce was cool , different from the book , but more fitting to the feel and pace of the film so it was alright .

Tauriel and Kili

I have few complains here.  I think it was nice that Tauriel and Kili formed a connection but I would much rather prefer their relationship to be in the area of  mutual sympathy or understanding or sth like that. There is too much history and differences between elves and dwarves to make such an instant “attraction” believable for me . This is my personal opinion. You might say that it was the attraction that made any sympathy possible but , nevertheless , the suggestions to any love related feelings seemed forced to me .
I would have cut down their dialog by a few lines to make their scenes more concise.

Tauriel is a cool character , she and Legolas are great team but for the moment I feel their storyline hasn’t find its real strong reason to be there yet and I guess it will be developed in the next film . I think Tauriel will be bringing more of the compassion and understanding towards other peoples that Thranduil seems to lack so much .


I enjoyed him being in the film more than I thought I would . I loved the moment when he commented on the pictures of Gloin’s wife and son ! I really laughed so much ! Pure fan service and I loved it . Of course you can always count on Legolas to perform some fun and cool stunt and he didn’t disappoint this time neither.

I would have preferred if Legolas was left out of this “love triangle” and was presented just like Tauriel’s  good friend but … alas , it is what it is .


I adore Bilbo ! I love Martin Freeman as Bilbo !!! Absolutely ! He is great ! What else can I say ! I love all his little emotions , movements , reactions ! He got few glorious moments and for me he always is the heart of the story . Please bring more Bilbo !


Honestly speaking , I didn’t like Thorin so much in the book as I like him in the film . I blame Richard Armitage for this . I will be so sad in the third movie , you can’t imagine ! in DoS Thorin  starts to change but still remains this great leader figure ! Most of his decisions are not entirely noble but he is such a charismatic character that I can’t not like him !


Great fun ! No wonder this is almost everyone’s favorite scene ! Full of great moments !

Dol Guldur

Gandalf going where he shouldn’t go ( as usual )  – totally awesome ! I liked these scenes a lot ! So creepy and epic ! I like the link they created for the LOTR .

Bard and Lake town

I absolutely loved Bard and I loved Lake town with all it’s coldness and wetness. Lots of cool moments here as well !  I feel too tired now to mention them all .

The final attack of the orcs and healing wonded Kili was kind of ok ... I mean it was helping building up the tension , got few cool moment and all . But ... I am not so convince about certain things about these scenes . I would have cut some elements out . But nevermind that . Lets move on


Towards the end of the film , the big changes came so I needed some time adjusting to that . The scene with Bilbo and Smaug was great , I see why they made Bilbo take of the ring in this case and it was all great fun . That dragon got some vanity issues , for sure ! :P
They used few of my favorite lines from the book so I was so happy ! Just the scene was very well played ! :D I love that Dragon !

But later things got more and more far from my expectations . Everything was visually great , cool , intense , the dragon was AMAZING and so on . It even ended almost the way I thought it will end – with Smaug flying to Lake Town. I will lie if I say I did not enjoy it  but …. I was kind of pulled out of the story that I know . It was like another story ,  all started being too different and it brought a strange new feeling to the events. The enormous gold dwarf facing  Smaug as a symbol of so many things - of the return of the dwarves to their kingdom , of their will and determination and so on ,  was really cool thing not only visually but also as an idea . The gold bath as well was metaphorically interesting and visually amazing ( not maybe very clever to put hot things on fire-breathing dragon but that's ok , trying to drawn him in gold liquid was quite proper if nor very effective way to deal with Smaug ;) ) .
The whole interaction between the dragon and the dwarves was fun . But the story finally got that one big turn that made the movie something distinguishably independent from the book . 
I realized how much my mind is condition to see the story to go in one particular way and how much I have hoped it would . I don’t hate the changes , I am kind of pondering over them . I am assimilating them . Like I have just read a secret chapter to the story that makes me wonder how things will turn out from now on . Now that my first “shock “ from that final changes has passed , more I remember about them , more I enjoy them , because I am letting go of my expectations . This is not the Hobbit I read , but it’s a Hobbit I am enjoying to see . It has a strong connection to the book , but it has a life of it’s own and I am loving both versions .
From a movie point of you , I understand that they wanted to have something more exciting for an ending and they wanted to add a confrontation between the dwarves and the dragon .  Since in the movie version the dwarves seem more involved in the events ( in the book it's mostly Bilbo doing all the job ) , it makes sense for them to try to defeat the dragon . But does it really ? What did this change bring to the story ? 
Even there were this grand finale , the movie really remained unfinished . I got such a frustration after the end, even if I knew is gonna end up that way ! Just the whole story remained on this cliffhanger ! 

In conclusion I can say that I loved the film because it was beautiful , fun , entertaining , trilling , full of great characters and wonderful location . Now that I know all it’s deviations and changes I want to see it again so I can better enjoy it for it’s own merits .
It’s not what I expected and some of the choiced Peter Jackson made are maybe not the choices I would have made but still it’s a good film and I did enjoy it ! I still have my doubts about certain things and I am waiting for the third movie to see how are they going to bring all things together . DoS is definately a very hard film to make because of endless storyline problems and I am sure many discussions will start about if the problems were well resolved or not . Honestly I haven't made up my mind about it myself. I need to watch it again , that much is clear !

Despite all little flaws , I do love those Hobbit & LOTR movies and I always will ! I admire the people who made them and I am thankful to all cast and crew for bringing so much magic into my life by creating a Middle-earth full of wonder , authenticity and beauty .


  1. It definitely could have been cut-down by 20 or so minutes, but for what it's worth, I had fun with this movie. Good review Vivi.

  2. Thank you for this detailed commentary!
    In my opinion, every element of the film, which you mentioned, was just as cool as you stated. There were so many details to enjoy - the drunken elves in the cellar, Lake Town's awesome scenery, Bard, the prehistory in Bree... and everything else the film had to offer! All the elements of the film were amazingly done, and I can't complain about much, apart from a few action scenes, which seemed over the top, like the barrel-fight-scene and a little bit of the Smaug-vs-dwarfs scene.
    But in my honest opinion, the film lacked structure. You mentioned it as well - it does not feel like a stand-alone film. There is no definite beginning, mid-escalation, climax, nor end. That was an inexcusable flaw in my opinion, from which all it's other flaws stem, but let's leave it at that.
    Another thing that I disliked was that some scenes and shots felt rushed, compared to others. It was obvious that the scenes with Smaug had been done with great diligence, and they were absolutely brilliant. But what about smaller scenes, like the one with Turiel healing Kili? That scene sucked so much, I can't believe it made it into the final cut, and I kept wondering if they run out of time to edit, so they just threw in the master shot and hoped people would like it anyway.
    And as much as I enjoyed the visual journey through middle earth and all the great sets, costumes, real and CG scenery, I felt that we didn't need half of it. I would have rather had more left to my imagination and less untimely pauses in the action. In general, the rhythm of the film didn't seem to flow, and I blame the lack of a three-act-structure. Or four-act-structure. The lack of structure. I would "fix" the film by cutting half of it. In fact, ever since I saw it, I have been thinking how to cut it down to 1:20 hr and make it more to my personal liking.
    As for the changes - some where very fan-indulgent, others were even more fan-indulgent, and others were just over-the-top and not very sure who they were supposed to indulge. I liked the fan service, while it was reasonable. Examples of what I enjoyed - the Bree scene, the scene with Tranduil and Legolas questioning the orc warrior, the Tauriel/Kili thing, whatever it was (even though I agree, it should have been kept at tamer levels - that could be fixed by removing Kili's delirious lines when he was sick, by the way), Bard's smuggling the dwarfs into Lake Town, into his own house... through the toilet :), Bilbo taking off the ring when he spoke with Smaug - that was absolutely brilliant! And of course the whole Lonely-mountain fight scene in the mines - I loved seeing more of the scenery there, despite the whole battle being over the top as per usual.
    Things that were a bit too indulgent for me were Gandalf's battle with the Necromancer - I just feel that seeing it destroyed the wonder of it. The whole story of the Lake Town's Master - did we really need 30 minutes of that guy and his Grimma-unibrow-servant? The barrel scene's extended action - too much...
    But my greatest disappointment with the film was that the best relationships and conflicts of the story were not explored better. In my opinion, Thorin's descend into gold-crazed-madness is one of the best parts of this story, and the script had enough material to depict it, yet all of the scenes where Thorin alienated the others felt rushed and were not accented upon. Same with the Thorin's relationship to Bilbo - the lines were there, but the accent of the movie was always somewhere else - never on the human conflict.
    Enough critique! Those were my own, very personal feelings about this film. I'm not saying I'm right, but that's what I think.

    PS: I would definitely watch the film again for the cast - they were all absolutely amazing! And Smaug was the greatest, most magnificent movie-dragon of all time!

    1. In the future maybe there will be a special DVD/Blue/Velvet/Rainbow-Ray option for people to cut down the films to the lengths their desire than maybe you can have your 1.20 minutes version , no problem :P . I want my 9 hours version as well but for this I need to call the actors for 2-3 years extra shooting ! Ok , stupid jokes , aside , I agree with some of the things you say , but for example I like seeing things ( in adaptations I mean ) . That’s what the movie is for . If I want to imagine them , I would read the books . But I know you mean sth else – you mean that sometimes not revealing everything creates better atmosphere than seeing it all . But since I wanted to see Dol Goldur , the Necromancer and all that , I was happy it was there . As for the Barrels – yes , it was too much maybe but it was fun , so I like it and I don’t mind it and I would not cut it away . I accept that some things in movies are there just to bring enjoyment even if they are not very relevant to the story. The travel is as important as the destination ( for me ) .

      As for the relationships in the film - I too want to see more of them for sure and I hope in the third film when there is less going around and almost no new characters to introduce, there will be more time for character development.
      I really don’t care how epic that final battle is going to be if it steals from the character’s storyline . But I think Peter knows that we love the characters a lot and he will be focusing on them more .

      As for the film structure – it suffers from middle-film syndrome for sure but the problems is mainly in the source material . The nature of the events in the Hobbit are very episodical – there is one adventure here , another there , one character here , another there … and so on . Great for a children book , because you can read one chapter to your kid every night , but not so great for a film .

      For example , for the sake of the movie’s structure , one can completely delete Beorn from the whole story and the story won’t suffer at all . But we all love Beorn from the book and we want to see him ! We want to see all those adventures that are in the book . The task to make a movie that has an open end and a very episodical structure is really not easy – there are still new characters to introduce and you can’t skip any step from the adventure. I think that to make things more fluid they added these orc pack who hunts them ( keeping the new storyline they invented in the last film ) and also they made things more urgent . The dwarves don’t spend many days locked in the cells of the elves – Bilbo finds a way out very quickly . Also when the dwarves are in Lake town , they are in hurry – that feeing that time is running out , that constant danger is surrounding them is an attempt to create a more fluid story . There is not much time for them to have a character moments because at this stage of the journey , there is simple no time . This movie was almost doomed to be made of fragments and lack climax but I think they did try to improve that as much as they can ( or at least according to their taste ) . Of course you have the right to not like it being too full of events . Peter Jackson likes his films long – and since I love Middle-earth , I don’t mind that .