The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug trailer – reaction

While the three films that made up The Lord of the Rings were all critical and commercial successes, the trilogy that will comprise the prequel films have not been so fortunate. Even before release, many commentators felt that the decision made after principal photography had been completed to restructure the two planned films to three was motivated by a desire to generate ticket sales rather than an artistic need to allow the already slight story full room to breathe. While undeniably successful, with global takings of $1.02 billion, the global take for The Fellowship of the Ring, $871 million, if adjusted for inflation is $1.20 billion, whereas the adjusted global haul of The Return of the King is $1.45 billion. Suddenly Smaug’s golden treasure does not glitter so. Will the second part redeem the failings of the first? The Geek Chocolate team weigh in with their opinions.

Owen Williams – I haven’t even watched the first film, and let me tell you why…

The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was based upon… wait for it… an ACTUAL trilogy. It was meaty. It was involving. It was wide in scope and needed to be told over a series of films in order to fully explore the themes and characters that were in the books. Tolkien created a landscape that justified the mammoth endeavour that Peter Jackson undertook. The Hobbit, by comparison, is something that old JRR whittled out on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

The recent habit of extending a novel into two parts is bad enough (Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games are all perfect examples of abusing the popularity of the source material) but to stretch what amounts to a fairly short novel over three films isn’t just abuse. It’s laughing at the people that go to watch the films, whilst they smile as you punch them repeatedly in the face.

As for the trailer itself: it looks just like the others. Lovely, beautifully shot widescreen panoramas that will, no doubt, look fantastic on the big screen. There will also, no doubt, be lots of walking around and panning shots of Bilbo taking in the majesty that surrounds him, as well as plenty of stuff that wasn’t in the original text. This is called “filler”, to distract from the fact that they’ve padded out a story that could, quite easily, have fitted into a brilliant and stand alone movie.

Brian Robinson – I’m pre-disposed to love this. I had a lot of time for the first film and am in the minority in thinking that Jackson is doing the right thing in including material from the appendices.

Great to see some iconic moments from the book, particularly the barrels. And the elves; in the book, Thranduil and his wood elves are a bit one note but here Jackson, already playing on the enmity the dwarves have for them, looks to be creating some conflict between the elves as to what they should be doing with regards to Erebor and the possible return of the old enemy. This may set things up for the climactic Battle of Five Armies better than the book did.

The film, as usual, looks beautiful, but some of the CG elves look pretty damn ropey. But the final moments, with an extended look at Smaug – who’d have thought they’d do that in the teaser?

Brilliant. Made me giggle. Cannot wait for December.

Les Anderson – First thought was – Is this a Paramount picture? After that, the design looks amazing, better than the first film. Orlando has overdone the guyliner and the action stuff does look a bit computer gamey. I am not a gamer but have seen enough trailers to know what they look like.

I really disliked the first film. It was far too overblown but this looks more interesting as long as the pacing doesn’t flag and they’ve sorted out the shoddy CGI.

Michael Flett – I didn’t have a problem in principle to them including canon material from the appendices, in fact I was delighted that they intended to do so. As two films. Even with that, there isn’t enough material to make three films, and the torture that was the first film amply demonstrated that over a tedious two and a half hours, with just the first chapter of the novel taking forty minutes to unfold, including a musical number. Tedious, bloated and saggy. Why couldn’t Jackson just have made a two hour film and saved all the extras for the DVD, where they would have been enjoyable as enhancements?

Even in this trailer, they are making a point of the new material, but hopefully because they want to say “Look, this one the extra bits aren’t padding, they have a purpose! Look, we have Legolas! You like Legolas! He was the pretty one in the films we made that were actually good!”

I’m actually happier to see Lee Pace as Thranduil, who I adored in Tarsem’s The Fall and Pushing Daisies and Luke Evans, who was the best thing in both The Raven and Immortals, and I’m guessing Bard the Bowman will have a greatly expanded role.

My problem is the look of the film – Lord of the Rings was set in a fantasy world, but it looked real, while here the colours and the landscapes and the architecture all look like a fairy tale. Yes, The Hobbit is more of a children’s book, so I understand, but when they are going to such great lengths to shoehorn it into a continuous sequence with the other films, they need consistency.

Let’s face it, it can’t be worse than An Unexpected Journey… can it?

Adam Dworak – I was always very critical of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. Okay, let’s be honest – I didn’t like them. As a hardcore fan of Tolkien’s writing, I couldn’t stand the way he had stretched and expanded the original trilogy.

Technically, it was a masterpiece, beautifully filmed and wonderfully realistic, but The Hobbit doesn’t even have that. Instead it looks artificial, plastic, dripping with CGI, computer generated goblins chasing computer generated elves through a computer generated forest.

Films used to have a “wow” factor, there used to be a sense of amazement at what the special effects technicians had achieved, a sense of wonder about how they had done it, but now everyth
ing is done by computer that feeling has been lost. Anything that can be imagined can be shown on screen, but none of it ever existed in the real world, it’s no more real than watching a video game.

Why even hire actors when you could just render a tree stump which could give as good a performance as Martin Freeman? He plays Bilbo Baggins in exactly the same way he played Arthur Dent and every other role he’s ever been cast in.

I’m not even going to talk about the ridiculous decision to turn a single short novel into a trilogy. That was just nonsense, indefensible, and I’m sick of talking about it.

I don’t understand Hollywood’s obsession with prequels and sequels, and The Hobbit suffers from it. It is a simple fairy tale about dwarves and elves and wizards and dragons, and the whole history of Middle Earth that Tolkien created is irrelevant to the story that is being told here, it’s not important until the One Ring passes to Frodo, but it’s portrayed here as a prelude to The Lord of the Rings, as though it had no validity without us constantly being reminded that it’s a part of what he sees as his amazing trilogy.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is scheduled for release on December 13th 2013

Follow the link for our full review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug



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