December 20, 2013

How Could The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Be Better

    We have traveled back to Middle-Earth for the fifth time. This time, Jackson goes to show that he is finally losing his magic. Cumberbatch was amazing, Smaug was amazingly created, and the music made me shiver, but what went wrong?

Spoiler Warning!

1.   The CGI

    This film goes to prove that Jackson is just using The Hobbit film franchise as his big CGI play box. I wouldn't compare The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings if Peter Jackson didn't stop throwing references in. With that, I get to compare, and how different the two films are special effects wise. Besides Esgorath (a.k.a Lake-Town) and the opening chase sequence, everything was CGI'd. Peter Jackson doesn't know how to make a traditional film anymore. I felt that this was a bad mix of what we saw in The Lord of the Rings, and King Kong. The CGI was horrible in many scenes. The barrel escape action sequence was some of the worst CGI in the film and took me out of the experience every time I had to watch Legolas slide on an orc or jump on dwarf head. The best CGI was of course Smaug, but that lasted for twenty minutes.

2.   Don't Spread the Story Thin

    A lot happens in the book so I can see how there could be three movies, but Jackson doesn't give the audience good breaks. The three major events in the book are Gollum, Smaug, and the Battle of the Five Armies. The first film gave us Gollum, the second Smaug, the third will eventually lead to the Battle of the Five Armies, but are three films really necessary? Jackson over analyzes every chapter and brings in unneeded characters when we have thirteen dwarfs and a hobbit to develop. What other characters do you have to develop besides, maybe, Bard from Lake-Town? The story and characters were spread thin to make way to additions rather than Jackson's usual subtractions. The Hobbit is one book, made into three films primarily for nostalgia and profit. Nostalgia because Peter Jackson might not get a chance to create The Silmarillion, and profit because that's all the studio cares about. Jackson decides to add subplots that don't pay off and characters that don't serve the overall story. I don't need to know what's going on with Gandalf all the time. I don't care about Legolas and Tauriel and the strange love triangle they have. I care about Bilbo Baggins and the thirteen dwarfs. Six of the thirteen are developed while the others linger about. I felt no connection with Bilbo, because Jackson had so many things going on that when I did start feeling something, I was disconnected to watch the story of how Gandalf gets captured by Sauron. The story of the dwarfs and the hobbit was enough to satisfy me. Jackson only had to build upon their relationship and what they're going through. This could have easily been an amazing look into the hearts and minds of these characters.

3.   Don't Give Us Backstories and Comparisons to The Lord of the Rings

    We already have something connecting The Lord of the Rings to The Hobbit and it's called the One-Ring. Even without the Ring, we have Bilbo, Elrond, and Gandalf. Any other characters related to LOTR were unnecessary. We already know Sauron's backstory, so why muddle it up with the Necromancer and Gandalf? Why was Legolas in this film? For backstory on the character? It wasn't for story or character building, that's for sure. There are even subtle references to LOTR like Gloin mentioning his son Gimli in one of the greatest shoe horned lines of dialogue in this film, or Gandalf going to the grave sites of the Nazgul. Just stick with the story you're given and don't stray from that story. 

4.   Give Us Better Dialogue

    I thought Peter Jackson was a master at writing dialogue, but his film proved otherwise. The dialogue was pretty bad. The back and forth between Legolas and Tauriel was horribly written. The two actors had no chemistry. Every line of dialogue was awkward and slowed the story down. The best dialogue came either between Thorin and Bilbo or Bilbo and Smaug.  It seemed that the writers half-assed their way through the first and second acts so they could just write the third act. Besides multiple stories happening all at once, the Smaug sequence was superb in action and dialogue.

5.   Too Many Characters. Give Us More By Giving Less

    Useless characters: Legolas, Tauriel, Sauron, anyone from Lake-Town besides Bard, Radagast the Brown, Gandalf, Beorn, half of the thirteen dwarfs.

    The story is about Bilbo and the dwarfs and many of the dwarfs are overshadowed by subplots of unneeded characters. Some dwarfs were kept out entirely. Jackson's approach with new characters like Legolas and Bard was disappointing. It might have been pure habit for Jackson, but Bard was written more like an Aragorn character. We already have our Aragorn-like hero for this film and his name is Thorin Oakenshield. Even Thorin was taken out of the picture most of the film. I didn't feel any connection with the main characters and the story was overcrowded. I felt that Jackson threw characters in that would favor audiences more than the story, like Tauriel. The Hobbit book has no female characters, so it seemed either Jackson or the studio crammed females in for the sake of the female audience.

   This film reminds me of movie trailers. It showed too much. Sure, there were some great parts to it, but Gandalf and his quest, and the love-triangle between Legolas, Tauriel, and Kili were useless. This also brought my respect for Peter Jackson down quite a bit since Evangeline Lilly said she didn't want to be put into a love triangle and the filmmakers did it anyway without her knowledge. Sure, the filmmakers have the final say, but respect wishes. The love triangle was unnecessary. Love triangles are only necessary in dramas and romances, not in fantasy adventure films.

   The majority of people seeing this film would have been fine watching Bilbo and the thirteen dwarfs adventure from Mirkwood to the Lonely Mountain. If Jackson gave the dwarfs depth and created a character piece surrounding Bilbo, this film might have worked.

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