I took my eldest two to the local cinema to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug yesterday afternoon. We all really enjoyed it and had lots to talk about on the car journey on the way home. I won't give away any spoilers here, but this is a brief review of the latest epic in the Lord of the Rings cycle...
I am not usually one for new fangled technology and watching a film at the cinema in anything other than vanilla 2d is something of a departure for me. I have seen other films in 3d but have not yet been impressed. Due to ticket availability yesterday (all the other showings were sold out for groupings larger than two) I could not get to see the film in 2d and had to settle for the super high def 3d version (and the extra entrance fee that entails). The 3d effect really popped, especially when titles and subtitles apeared on the screen. Most scenes were well rendered, but fast action scenes and scenes with lots of foreground clutter were quite blurry. That said, wearing the special glasses aside, I was actually quite engrossed by the film without the effects grating on me - a plus for the new 3d stuff in my eyes (no pun intended). Maybe I am a convert to 3d now? This was the special super high-def version though, so maybe the normal 3d version would be pants in comparison?
Onto the film. I am quite a Tolkien afficionado and like my Tolkien pure (like my RE Howard etc too) but I have made exceptions for this series of films. There are several breaks from the original storyline, but by and large they seem to work. There were only a couple of scenes that grated a bit (sexual inuendo in Tolkien - No, not or me) but the story on-the-whole seemed to gel well. The introduction of the non-canon female elf ranger Tauriel actually enhanced some things, but did take away a bit of the awesomeness of Legolas in my opinion - if all elves are this good then why was Legolas so special? My daughter really liked the new character though, so I think it is one for the womenfolk - Tolkien's works can be rather spartan when it comes to strong female characters.
The baddies also get a good showing, with another great orc hero involved in the plot, and the Gundabad orcs are very well done. The fight scenes involving the orcs had just the right amount of comedic lightness to make them fantasy violence rather than being too real and gruesome (which is better for the kids). We also get to see more of the Necromancer and of course the mighty Smaug. All done very well.
We were all disappointed (in a good way) with the ending, but that is only because we were left on a bit of a cliff-hanger and all wanted to know what happens next.
I thoroughly recommend the film. We all found it better than the previous outing, which was a good film too, and are now all looking forward to the final installment.