Hobbits, dragons, wizards and dwarves. The second part of the silver screen adaptation of JRR Tolkien's epic fantasy novel, The Hobbit, premiered at Star Cineplex in Dhaka recently. Armed with premiere passes and barely contained excitement, a group of adventurers journeyed to the theatre on an epic quest of The Movie Review.
Peter Jackson definitely knows how to translate a high-fantasy novel into a movie with appropriate proportions. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the few books-to-movie adaptations that haven't completely alienated readers, trying hard to live up to the expectations of Tolkien geeks as well as movie-goers. When it came to The Hobbit, though, that bar was always going to be higher, because the book is probably the first time most readers were exposed to the magic of Tolkien.
That probably explains why a 310-page book is being stretched over three movie instalments.
The Desolation of Smaug picks up where An Unexpected Journey left off. Bilbo Baggins, now armed with the One Ring (of course, he still doesn't know what it is), is still relatively tall next to the company of dwarves on their quest to reach the gates of Erabor, and after overcoming the obstacles that Middle Earth spewed out at them, he's thinking that they must be quite close to finishing up.
Two hours and forty minutes is apparently not long enough, as everything from hungry giant spiders to condescending elves to gold hoarding dragons (not to mention plenty of orcs) stand between the vengeful dwarves and their hobbit friend as they try to retrieve the Arkenstone.
Plenty of fighting sequences and beautiful settings amount to a terrific 3D experience. Here and there, the scenes appear a little exaggerated, and it is obvious they play no purpose other than to enhance the 3D-ness of the movie. Who can blame them, though? As long as it is enjoyable and you don't mind a shrieking, teeth baring giant spider jumping at you from the screen, I don't think anyone will complain much.
Adaptation-wise, the fans of the book will not be terribly disappointed. There are additions, obviously, as well as some creative re-imagining, but as a whole the movie accurately translates words to a movie reel. One problem that springs up from splicing one book into three movies is that major characters are left to the sidelines as others take the centre stage. Gandalf, everyone's favourite Tolkien-era wizard, has a smaller role to play in this movie than the previous one, mostly serving as the gel between this movie and the LOTR trilogy. This is how a long drawn out, extremely late and very expensive prequel to a movie that has brought in millions, is made. Cash cow, much?
It IS quite entertaining to watch, and a David versus Goliath story could be all you need at the beginning of the year to boost your spirits and provide inspiration to do more. Just ignore the cliffhanger ending and read the book before the third and final instalment in The Hobbit trilogy lands.