DAY 2 – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

by 12daysofmovies


So you’re saying that, since we found this massive mountain full of precious metals, our entire system of currency is basically worthless? There will be massive inflation and we’ll have to establish a system of central banks to issue currency and control the value of money, basically putting us on the track towards a modern market economic system? NOOOO!!!!! WHY DID WE COME HERE???

Smaug is a talking dragon.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the second sequel of a trilogy of prequels of a trilogy of movies based on a trilogy books, and somewhere in this recursive nightmare of threes and pres and sequential ordering mythos and numbering hierarchies is a movie and this is the movie that we’re going to be talking about. As Arcade Fire would put it, it’s a reflection of a reflection of a reflection of a reflection of a

Firstly, and importantly, I saw The Hobbit: The Desolation Smaug in 3D, so that’s three dimensions of the second part of the trilogy that is the prequel to a series of three movies that is the 


At some point before the movie, some text came up on the screen instructing the audience (which, coincidentally, consisted of three people) to put on their three dimensional 3D glasses, and then, some trailers played. One was for a movie called Maleficent, which is the 3D re-imagining of the wonderfully 2D Disney Classic, Sleeping Beauty. It stars Angelina Jolie and that girl who is related to that other girl. It was difficult not to notice the shittiness of this 3D experience. All the framing forced the viewer to pick something to look at, as all the shots were wide, full of things moving all over the place, and absolutely everything, no matter what plane it was on (foreground, middle ground, background) was in full, impossible focus. I remember thinking, “The Hobbit won’t be like this. Peter Jackson really takes 3D seriously. The whole movie was created for this medium.” And luckily, I was right. In the beginning of the Hobbit: Desolation Smaug, a conversation between Dumbledore and a Dwarf King takes place, and lo and behold, there was nice, shallow depth of field. The stuff in the background, though obviously “further away” in the 3D illusion, was out of focus, which means it was easy to focus on Ian McKellan’s giant, beautiful, beardy face. 

I did not see the first Hobbit, but I did see the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, even though I never really did figure out what was happening in those movies. But I remember a sword called Sting, and in The Hobbe: DesoSmaug, we find out why it’s called that: It’s because a talking spider said “ow that stings” when the sword was being jabbed repeatedly into its face by Bilbo. Using this naming system, it’s safe to assume that Bilbo got his name when he was being jabbed repeatedly into the face of his mother, and she said ow, that really bilbos. 

In this movie is a lot of racism, as Elves are pretty racist, and the bear man in the beginning is pretty racist (all against dwarves, who are small and “greedy” (I guess we can figure out who they are supposed to allegorically represent (again, Sensitive!))), but what reunites them all is an overarching hatred of orcs, the ugly, muscular creatures who, if I recall from the first (second?) trilogy, make each other out of dirt at the bottom of a big tower, which is, you know, at least probably environmentally low-impact. 

The problem with Orcs as villains is that they are really, really not good at fighting. They are, at their cores, just experts at sneering. They sneer magnificently. What they don’t do is even so much as threaten any of our protagonists (and there are a lot). They just kinda jump from off frame, looking pretty cool with a weapon in their hand and stuff, and then unceremoniously get killed by an arrow or an axe or something, and fall down and litter the ground from whence they came. Which is, you know, annoying for our protagonists, but, not really, you know, that big of a deal. All of the violence in this movie was stylized and extremely sanitized, no good guys ever get killed. There’s not much blood or gore, so it was really pushing for that PG-13 rating. 

Let’s get back to Smaug. Smaug is a smug-ass one-percenter. He sleeps buried in gold. This is obviously some sort of metaphor. At some point, everybody is turning out their pockets just to afford a shitty boat ride into a shitty town, and then they get into this mountain with Smaug, and there is just fucking money EVERYWHERE. It’s like, really, there’s this much money just in this tower? And we’re out there riding in barrels with fish? Jesus, Smaug! Just like, give us some gold so we can sit on a bench on the boat next time, for chrissakes, I mean, I get it, you’re the “mountain king” and this is your “hall” but

Sorry, the 3D got me really immersed in the movie. 

Speaking of immersion, it’s funny how much further this concept gets pushed in the realm of cinema every single year. We really want people to forget that these elves and fucking hobbits aren’t real, some companies are even working on the technology to pump hobbit smell into theaters. I mean, is this really necessary? Hyperreality has already become so much of our lives. Advertising depicts a sexier, more fun life than we could ever have. Video games give us more freedom than we could ever hope for. 3D movies show us beautiful CGI landscapes and dungeons with amazing, extreme colors and atmospheres. When Peter Jackson’s 3D cameras were pointed towards some real, non-CGI mountain or stream, which happened occasionally during the film, not only was it extremely obvious, but, I couldn’t help but think, “well, that’s a little disappointing. That looks just like real life. There’s nothing beautiful or exciting about that at all.”


Random notes:

1) TheHob: DeSmaug runs about 161 minutes. THAT’S AN HOUR PLUS A HUNDRED MINUTES.

2) I didn’t notice anything pertaining to the supposed higher frame rate of these movies. Is that still a thing?


4) Liv Tyler is also in this movie, I think. Actually, I have no idea. I thought it was her. 

5) Ian McKellen is, probably, the best living actor. Just watch him as King Lear. Now that’s righteous.