The Hobbit 2 Review: Smaug is Bored and I Am Desolated

Having sat through the enormous letdown that is, I feel like I have breathed the dwarves' air; lived part of their life and was happy to have done so... for about two hours.

Contains spoilers

I've never toured the Lake District or Venice with a bunch of diminutive roadies. Nor have I felt the urge to, as fun as it might be.

But now I feel I've had that vicarious experience in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and felt utterly bemused by it.

Having sat through the enormous letdown that is The Hobbit 2, I feel like I have breathed the dwarves' air; lived part of their life and was happy to have done so... for about two hours.

The problem is Hobbit 2 goes on a lot longer than that. And it feels like it.

Marred by some dodgy effects, a redundant, tagged-on love triangle between Legolas, alluring She-Elf Tauriel (shoehorned into the movie to tick the love tryst box), and Kili the Dwarf (who looks like lead singer in a Prog Rock band), TH: TDOS is a massive self indulgence from Peter Jackson.

It features some great set pieces, including the stand out battle between dwarves, orcs and elves, all down river... in barrels. In a perfect world, this would have come last, ending the movie on a high note.

In a really perfect world it would be a theme park ride.

It was the only point I smiled in joy at the bravura stunts and choreography. The rest of the time I soaked up the incredible art direction; costumes; weapons; furniture; impressive staircase carved into the rock of a monolith; I liked the score; some of the monsters, and hoped it would have reached the dizzy heights of the original trilogy.

Strange that it all felt a bit too Hawk the Slayer with a budget and decent cast.

In short, a bit meh.

A hard Hobbit to break: Photo: Roger Crow

The third act is highly problematic.

Having encountered the eponymous dragon in the lonely mountain, huge chunks of dialogue are exchanged between Bilbo and Smaug.

Once again Martin Freeman is simply brilliant as the titular hero, lending this sprawling epic a necessary everyman gravitas. I'd happily have watched him pottering about for 10 minutes, instead of just reacting to the onslaught of threats, creatures and assorted ne'er do wells.

But talking dragons? Really? It might have been in the book, but on film it just looks awful, despite fine vocal and mo-cap work by Benedict Cumberbatch.

And that dreadful finale.

I will buy a talking dragon, but gold plating it to try and kill it?

Gold is a soft metal. Poured onto a dragon, whose scales are supposed to be thick and key word 'fireproof', what was it going to do?

Parade around like a shiny living award for best talking dragon in an overblown fantasy epic?

No, it just flies off and prepares to unleash more havoc on a neighbouring town like a Middle Earth bomber about to drop its payload.

Except it cuts off half way through like Jackson ran out of time, packed the film in a can or huge memory stick and thought, 'That'll do'.

Lord of the Rings was a masterpiece. A trilogy blessed with a great script, cast, a solid story and mostly superb effects.

The Hobbit has become its poorer cousin. Epic, entertaining yes, but overblown and leaden, lingering far longer than necessary.

And at the risk of doing the same i'll just say give it a look, and enjoy the river battle, but after that don't be too surprised if you're checking your watch.


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