Thursday, December 19, 2013
"The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug": Bilbo doesn't quite checkmate the "Sicilian Dragon" and asks "What have we done?"
First, after the journey with the full “Lord of the Rings” trilogy from Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema, a “prequel” franchise of films based loosely on the earlier “The Hobbit” seems anti-climactic. We know what will happen later so the pre-history seems a bit gratuitous. But now we have 3-D and even more film technology, so why not enjoy the ride.
The second prequel film, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” starts when Gandalf (Ian McKellen) contracts with Thorn (Richard Armitage) to recover the “Arkenstone”, in an atmospheric scene in a Middle Earth bawdy bar. (It reminds me of the opening of “The Social Network”, as if there were “thirsty scholars” in this world.) There are political problems to solve, to get the dwarves on board, and Bilbo (Martin Freeman) is actually respected as a burglar.
A journey through this version of Earth in an alternate universe follows. It moves more quickly than the previous film. The scene where Bilbo outwits the giant spider is fascinating, but the best sequences start ninety minutes into the film, when the team arrives at the “Lake-Town” which looks like an Elizabethean town on canals. It’s quite a place. Maybe there is something like it still in Southeast Asia on this Earth. The guys then journey into the mountains, and Bilbo, possessing the magic ring, finds the tunnel into the mountain where the dragon lives in an old mine filled with Middle Earth’s money supply.
At the end, after the Snaug dragon escapes a river of molten gold, but Bilbo’s last line is, “What have we done?” The end credits will play a Best Song candidate, “See the Fire”.
The dwarves needed to play a Yugoslav attack against this dragon, not a Maroczy Bind. Chessplayers will get that.
Is Middle Earth a depiction of pre-history? Is it in an alternate universe? Is it on an Earth-like planet 40 light years away? At least it has our Sun and Moon, which are rare in this combination.
I still think Hollywood needs to get serious and make Clive Barker’s fantasy “Imajica” with its five reconciled dominions (but the First is Heaven, which gets returned to the real world when man beats God).
Here’s the Facbook link
I saw this at the AMC Courthouse tonight in Arlington, with the reclining seats, and it almost sold out on a weeknight.
Pictures: Mine (Arbuckle Mountains, OK); very light snow. .