The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug [3D/HFR/IMAX]

Like the first instalment, this movie suffered from poor pacing and extraneous scenes. It could definitely been have at least 1/3 shorter and that could have made it more impactful and memorable. Nonetheless, it was still stunning movie, gorgeously rendered and directed. I am still a believer in the HFR technology, and over here, it was actually less distracting than before. In addition, the 3D was less obtrusive here, although some scenes were clearly created just to show it off with no real benefits to the story; and IMAX is always excellent especially to fully appreciate the grandeur of Peter Jackson's world. The biggest problem with "The Hobbit" trilogy that separates it from LOTR is that the main cast is too big, what with all the dwarves. This results in insufficient screen time for the main leads: Bilbao, Thorin and Gandalf, and insufficient audience empathy to care deeply for their quest. Unlike destroying the ring to save the world, what will re-establishing Thorin as King do? Without all these clearly defined goals, the audience emotional attachment will definitely be less. Similarly, Thorin's characterisation is sorely lacking to give him the Heroic gravitas like Aragon (sadly, Richard Armitage also lacked the screen presence and charisma of Viggo Mortensen) or the anti-hero broodiness, which is so in vouge these days, to engage the audience. In this instalment, Martin Freeman's Bilbao has a much lesser role to play, and the ring is becoming a very convenient deux ex machina. Gandalf, as always, is such a mystery. He, like Dumbledore, knows so much but says so little that it is getting frustrating. Thankfully we have Ian McKellen in this role who brings with him such cheeky seriousness that you know you just want to trust him (and that he knows best). 3 new main characters were introduced and to varying success. Orlando Bloom's Legolas is a welcome, and reprising this iconic role definitely suits Bloom and it is fun to see how Legolas changed to the Elf that we know of in LTOR; Evangeline Lily's new character Thauriel is really not needed in terms of story advancement, perhaps it will lead into Legolas' character development, but the C/D/E-plot that Jackson and company has shoved down our throat is wholly un-necessary, and bordering on boring and unrealistic (no offence to the actors involved who are surely trying their darnest to sell it); lastly we have Bard as played by Luke Evans, and from my understanding he is to play a bigger role in Part III which was clearly eluded to and foreshadowed here, and at least he has already been much more interesting a character to root and understand about than sully Thorin. Like most middle instalments of trilogies, this is definitely going somewhere but is not there yet, so the feeling is the same. But unlike "The Two Towers" this does not make me wish that Part III is out now, but when it is out, I will still definitely be there to see how the tale ends and tie in with LOTR. And that is what Jackson has going in for him. Even Howard Shore's score is also less effective here.

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