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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

My gut tells me that Peter Jackson could’ve made this work as a single 3-hour film. Maybe even 5-hours, over two installments, could have flown—especially if directed by Guillermo del Toro as originally planned. But as a three-part, 9-hour Gargantua? I’m attempting to not repeat everything I complained about last year with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”—but I just might fail. After all, when it comes to “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”, you’ll have to pardon my strong feeling of deja vu. In other words, same shit-different year. They’ve stretched this thing out like taffy that’s been pulled so far that it’s web-like. And I’ve been told I’m supposed to like this one better. Frankly, I can’t wait until December, so that I can get this mega-bloated enterprise out of my hair for good.

Forget about me supplying any detailed plot elements—because no one needs it. You pretty much know what’s in store for you, right? There are dwarves and there are giants. No Gollum this time around, but we have a massive CGI dragon(the aforementioned Mr. Smaug). And I’m officially sick and tired of having to say “Benedict Cumberbatch” these past twelve months. “Star Trek Into Darkness”, “12 Years a Slave”, “August: Osage County”, “The Hobbit”(voice of Smaug)—isn’t there anyone else to hire? He’s this year’s Jessica Chastain. By the way, it takes about a couple of hours for the big dragon to show up, but the magic was gone for me long before that point. In fact, it officially vanished in December of 2003. Oh, you get a pretty good downstream water chase and an encounter with giant spiders in “The Desolation of Smaug”, but you have to slog through quite a bit to get there. The film looks good(and expensive)and the Howard Shore music queues you on how to feel in all the pre-programmed spots. It’s not painful, it’s just(insert picture of Mark Leonard shrugging his shoulders). Call me a pessimist, but my hopes are rock-bottom for 2014’s “The Hobbit: There and Back Again”. But I do dig that title. Finally, some truth in advertising!

I’ve been told that I should expect a certain lack of closure here, because it is the “middle section” of a trilogy. There’s just one problem though…it’s not a damn trilogy! I’ve never read “The Hobbit”, but clearly J.R.R. Tolkien must be turning in his grave, right? Three nearly 3-hour movies for 270 pages? Are one film per chapter adaptations of novels all that far off? Per page? Martin Freeman is back, of course, as Bilbo Baggins and Ian McKellan is Gandalf the Grey. Orlando Bloom’s Legolas is finally back after a decade, and I think I saw Cate Blanchett in here somewhere as Galadriel. Or was that the last one? I don’t know. All joking aside, Peter Jackson has definitely lost his edge. And it began with his bursting-at-the-seams “King Kong” remake in 2005. Or wait a minute, possibly it was two years before that on “The Return of the King”. Did you ever think we would reach a point when the 179-minute “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” seemed lean and spare? Baffling. The original “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy began with what I believe was a creative, artistic impulse. “The Hobbit”, however, is like an endlessly paying off slot machine. Don’t exempt Jackson—everyone saw dollar signs with this. And their move has worked, so who the heck am I to say? For now, I guess I’ll see you in 12 months. Just one more to go.     Grade:  C 

next review up: “Lone Survivor”

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