I just got back from watching the film and I have to admit I have mixed feelings about it. I’m fairly certain I even enjoyed the first one more. It’s still one of the best films of the year, however, and certainly worth your money for its entertainment value. As a huge fan of Tolkien and anything Middle-earth related, it was a joy to watch from a visual perspective and once again to see and become immersed in the stunning scenery and landscapes. I just left the cinema with a few gripes and ultimately unsatisfied for the following reasons:
I didn’t like the start, as I felt it was a step back and slowed the film down. We don’t need to see Gandalf and Thorin talking in Bree and then for it to say '12 months later'. The Hobbit is a fast-paced, adventure tale where one chapter builds onto the next climaxing in the thrilling ending. The first film ended with the dwarves and Bilbo being chased by the orcs, so the second film could have started with that straight away and worked, building on the breathless energy of the chase rather than making us sit through the pointless Bree scene. The audience knows how the last film ended and why the party is heading to the Lonely Mountain – we don’t need reminding.
I thought Mirkwood lacked the atmosphere of Fangorn, while we didn’t get to see too much of the elven woodland kingdom either. The spiders unimpressed and went on a bit long while there was also far too much Legolas time throughout the whole film. Now I love Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn – they were the best three characters for me in the Lord of the Rings but this is the Hobbit – it should focus on Bilbo. It is his story and how he transforms and constantly saves the day. I got bored of watching Legolas – and Tauriel – easily slicing up orcs and firing arrows, while Legolas looked a bit fat in the face and frankly a bit weird.
I was engrossed by the Bilbo and Smaug scenes, they are my favourite parts from the book and I thought the film did it well – just not enough! The final 20 minutes were a bit chaotic, with a lot of action but it was muddled, confusing and in the end pointless. The dwarves go to a lot of bother and faffing around to create a gold statue, which drowns Smaug briefly before he flies away to seek revenge upon Laketown. I guess when you make three films instead of one this is the sort of thing you have to do to fill the time. I’d have liked more Bilbo time rather than the focus on Tauriel and Kili’s little relationship as I just didn’t care about them.
I did like the film, despite my negativity. As I said I thought Smaug was well done, and truly terrifying. The barrel scene down the river was great and Laketown was superb. Bard was excellent and also Beorn.
I hope the final film will be better, how can it not be? The Battle of the Five Armies should be amazing to watch, as well as Bard taking on Smaug and the White Council kicking the Necromancer out of Dol Gildur.
The ultimate difference for me is that I won’t be buying these films on DVD – I just don’t have any great desire to watch them again like I do with the Lord of the Rings.