As entertaining as it is irritating
Just like its title, The Hobbit Part II: The Desolation of Smaug is way too long. While it boasts of impressive visuals and well-choreographed action, the film is crippled by the decisions of greedy executives who decided to split a short novel into three 150-minute movies. As a result, you have a sequel devoid of a beginning and an end, leaving nothing but nostalgia and goodwill to fool us into thinking there ever was one.
I enjoyed the film just as much as I hated it. But we would have gotten an amazing adaptation had they stuck with just one or two. I can imagine Smaug as a representation of consumers who possess all the riches Bilbo and the dwarves (in this case, the studios and producers) seek to claim. And right after failing to put down the dragon, they can do nothing but stare at it and mutter “what have we done?”
Indeed, what they’ve done so far has tarnished the good name of Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings trilogy. It’s a blatant attempt to squeeze more money out of the audience without high regard for quality like before. Director Peter Jackson might still be around but he has so far only salvaged what could’ve been a disaster. Had the director not been passionate about the source material I can already imagine The Hobbit as a nightmare of a franchise. If studios continue this trend of putting cliff-hangers in anticipation for the next chapter, people might not be willing to come back. So at least they should’ve made changes on that. Then again, it’s almost impossible to pull off when the source novel is shorter than any LOTR book and they decide to expand the plot to almost 500 minutes.
For every good thing there is a setback. Martin Freeman’s portrayal of Bilbo is still exceptional. The return of Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Thranduil (Lee Pace) and the inclusion of Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and Bard (Luke Evans) certainly helped the film. Yet after being with them for 10 minutes there’s a sudden realization that you’ve connected with them more than any of the dwarves in their 300 minutes of appearance. And the talkative Smaug (voiced by Ben Cumberbatch), well he’s just as entertaining as he is ridiculous.
It frustrates me that because of the greed of a few higher-ups, the people are forced to put up with tons of extended minutes that were very unnecessary. If you cut Part II by an hour, you would’ve gotten a B+ film, because there are still a lot of great moments in it. The river sequence at the middle was exceptional, but they always lose momentum in every good scene because of so much walking and talking.
I’m not saying it’s a bad film, because it isn’t really a film. It’s an advertisement for Part III, but way different from how Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 served as an ad for The Avengers 2. People who haven’t seen it can go ahead, just come in with lowered expectations and a higher level of patience.