Yesterday morning we went to see The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug 3D HFR. The reviews I've seen have been all over the place. Those who loved the LotR trilogy, and the first Hobbit movie loved this one. Those who love the book tend to be upset by the movie. They don't appreciate the deviations made by Peter Jackson.
I get that.
It's hard to see something that you love, and have loved for years taken by someone else and changed, and shown in a way that doesn't match what you've imagined every time you think about it. Peter Jackson was never going to get that right.
For the rest of us, who are willing to accept that the Hobbit movies are different in so many ways from the book, because it has to be, you'll probably enjoy it. The dividing line between the children's story that is The Hobbit, and the epic that is the Lord of the Rings is a hard one to bridge given how different they are in tone, but I think Peter Jackson pulls it off.
As with The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey, I never noticed the length of the movie. Getting to see even more of Middle Earth, from Bree to Laketown, Erebor and the Woodland Realm, Dol Gildur and Mirkwood. As far as I'm concerned, just getting to see the scenes of life in these locals was worth the price of admission.
The addition of Legolas and Tauriel mostly felt like unnecessary filler. I didn't dislike it, and the eyecandy was nice, but it didn't really add anything worth having to the movie. Do we really need an elf-dwarf-elf love triangle? No, we don't. Couldn't we just have some mutual respect and friendship develop, as between Gimli and Legolas?
The scenes in Laketown with Bard and the Master were fantastic. Stephen Fry and Luke Evens really brought the characters to life, and the sets and extras made Laketown feel real. Corrupt, hard living, but real.
The real star of the show was Smaug. I'd been wondering how well I was going to like him, given how picky I am about what dragons look like. I needn't have worried. While Peter Jackson went with the wings being a part of the forelegs, Smaug looked not only great for a dragon, but like one that truly fit in with everything else we've seen in Middle-Earth.
Overall I give The Desolation of Smaug 4/5 dragons. It wasn't perfect, but there was a lot that I loved, and waiting a year for the final chapter is going to be rough...