This past Thursday night, I attended the midnight premiere of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. I had been waiting to see it since the first movie came out about a year ago. I watched every trailer and even some behind-the-scenes footage. As soon as tickets went on sale, I bought my seats for the premiere. After some confusion and switching theaters, I organized to meet with some friends at midnight. We even got awesome novelty 3D glasses!
It was not as packed as I expected. When I saw The Avengers, the theater was full to the brim. Even the first Hobbit movie had a better turnout. Granted, these were at three different theaters, but I was surprised when there were still many seats open in our theater. I was slightly disappointed, because the crowd is my favorite aspect of a midnight premiere. Avengers was a blast surrounded by fans all night. At The Hobbit, all I had were my friends. I enjoyed it nonetheless.
The movie itself was great. It covered the next portion of The Hobbit book, from the trip through Mirkwood until the wrath of Smaug. To my disappointment, and to others’ in the theater, the movie ended in a big cliffhanger as the dragon flew out of Erebor and onto Laketown. Smaug uttered ominous words: “I am Fire. I am Death,” and the screen cut to black. A chorus of “no way!”s arose from the crowd as the credits rolled. But overall, everyone was more than satisfied.
Speaking of Smaug, this movie had the best screen representation of a dragon I have ever seen. The motion-capture CGI for Smaug was amazing, and the 3D gives you a sense of the immense size of the creature. Every detail was considered, from the scales and leathery wings to the way he breathed fire or spoke. Benedict Cumberbatch sounded amazing with his deep and reverberating voice mixed with the roughness of a dragon. A good half to a third of the movie was dedicated to Smaug and the Lonely Mountain. Yet because of that, I felt that the scenes in Mirkwood, specifically with the Elves, were cut short. But at a length of 2 hours and 47 minutes, I can understand why the dragon got more time. My hope is that the extended edition has more scenes in the forest.
What I enjoyed most (after Smaug) was the inclusion of Gandalf’s escapades to the south. In the original book, Gandalf leaves without warning, and later returns at the end of the book. There was only a passing mention of a necromancer, which–to astute readers–was a hint at the second rise of Sauron. In the movie, we see scenes with Gandalf and Radagast (or as I call him, 7th Doctor Wizard) of them confronting the brewing evil. Gandalf discovers that the ringwraiths have risen from their graves, and explores the stronghold of the orcs (Hint). There he discovers, and it is explicitly stated, that this necromancer is actually Sauron returned.
I was not a huge fan of Tauriel though. She was a great character, and a welcome addition, but I felt she was a little out of place. Her relationships with both Legolas and Kili were slightly unnatural, and it almost took me out of the story. Dwarf on Elf? Ugh… But to each their own.
As I left the theater, I was extremely satisfied. It movie was amazing, beautifully shot and filmed. I hope to see it again soon in High Frame Rate. The action and story were superb, and OMFG Smaug! I can’t wait for next December for There and Back Again. Till then, I’ll enjoy my Second Breakfast.
Bonus challenge! Name all 13 dwarves, without help. Good luck.