The appeal of the Grand Adventure is clear and incontestable: the epic scale; the sense of mystery and adventure; the thrill of discovering what challenge, adversary, or ally awaits around the next bend. Thing is, the whole point of the exercise is to reach an ultimate goal, and that’s where Peter Jackson’s HOBBIT movies — both of them, to date — have been having problems. Picking up where the previous film, AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, left off, THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG, seeks to continue the J.R.R. Tolkien tale of a band of dwarfs, key among them Thorin (Richard Armitage) and Kili (Aidan Turner) — aided and abetted by the hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) — as they challenge the fearsome dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) and attempt to reclaim their kingdom, but gets so lost in its tangents, side-histories, and ancillary characters that it manages to botch even the key confrontation promised in the title.
Once again, the Cinefantastique Online trio of Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons diverge widely in their opinions of how well this second installment manages to deliver its ambitious tale, leading to an energetic and thought-provoking discussion. Click on the player to hear the show.
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG gets new elves and rampaging orcs… Steel yourself for more MAN OF STEEL… Let’s go looking for the ALIEN UPRISING…
From the luxurious Cinefantastique Online studios in NYC, Dan Persons brings you up-to-date on what’s happening in the world of genre media.
The internet is abuzz thanks to the release of the new trailer for THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG, the second installment in Peter Jackson’s prequel trilogy to THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Fans, understandably disappointed with THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, are picking the trailer over, looking for signs of hope: it’s loaded with action, suggesting that the excitement factor will be multiplied, now that the exposition-heavy first installment is out of the way. Legolas (Orlando Bloom) is back, and you actually see more of Smaug the Dragon in this trailer than you did in the previous feature film – a rather intimidating, reptilian head with glowing eyes, snaking around a corner as Bilbo searches for cover.
The imagery is beautiful, but there is a distinctly CGI texture, as if we were watching a really good videogame. The shot of Bilbo hiding in a tree (at 1:10) is a bit too transparent in its use of computer-generated imagery; the setting the the giant spider glimpsed in the background are great, but the Hobbit looks like a cartoon.
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG will undoubtedly be another huge success, but if the dragon is dispatched by the conclusion, the third installment risks being a bit anticlimactic.