The Last Geek To Comment on The Hobbit 2 Has Her Say
The Last Geek To Comment on The Hobbit 2 Has Her Say (With Thoughts On What Writers Can Learn From PJ’s Mistakes)
Published January 26, 2014 | By Shawna
(Note: Contains very minor spoilers for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
OK, I’m not going to bother with a full review, since I’m sure by now everyone who wants to has either seen it or read other reviews. It took me a while to steel myself to go see it. I was pretty disappointed in the first movie, but liked the actors and the few actual Tolkienish bits. I went into the second movie with lowered expectations, and overall enjoyed it.
The dragon was wicked-cool. Well-rendered, impressive, and Benedict Cumberbatch did a fantastic job with the voice. Martin Freeman is still the best person they could have gotten to play Bilbo, Ian McKellen continues to be awesome, and Richard Armitage once again rose above the material. The bits with Gandalf battling the Necromancer made my inner-teenage-fantasy-geek very happy. We’re not going to talk about what PJ did to Radagast because I don’t want to ruin anyone’s day, least of all my own.
I enjoyed Tauriel as a character too much to resent her non-cannon intrusion, especially as I’ve long since given up hope of PJ’s movies bearing more than a passing resemblance to the books. (What do you know? PJ can have a strong female character without finding some way to undercut her! Maybe he’s capable of learning and growth!)
Ditto the elf-dwarf romantic tension, which I had heard rumor of, was prepared to dislike intensely, and actually found quite sweet. I thought there was a nice, subtly complex triangle set-up there with Legolas. Tauriel is attracted to Legolas but knows she can’t have him. Being a smart girl, she accepts the things she cannot change and is open to moving on with someone (very) different. Legolas doesn’t like her enough that he’s prepared to defy daddy to be with her, but he likes that she likes him, and doesn’t like it when she shows signs of interest in someone else. (Of course it helps that Kili is as cute as a box full of puppies with a couple of kittens on the side.)
The whole digression into Laketown politics made me feel like I had wandered into another movie, but it wasn’t a *bad* movie.
The CGI-enhanced unrealistic elven acrobatics once again set my teeth on edge. The action sequences were still waay too long (I really wished I knew in advance exactly how many minutes I had, so I could get up and stretch my legs and maybe get a snack.) Which leads me to my take-away for writers.
Most (not all) of the action sequences were kinda cool, especially the ones under the Lonely Mountain with the dragon and all the gold sliding around like desert sands. If there had been half as many of them, and they had been half as long, this would have been a darned good movie, especially if PJ also tightened his narrative structure and put the Laketown politics stuff in another movie where it belonged.
Writers, this is why we need to ‘kill our darlings.’ Yes, that passage is beautifully written, and so is that one and the other, but when you put them all together, it’s too much and the reader starts wondering what’s for lunch. I’m talking to myself as much as anyone here. The next time I want to resist an editor’s suggestion to cut that gorgeously written passage for the greater narrative good, I will remember sitting in a movie theater, checking my watch and thinking about whether I wanted Chinese or a hamburger. (For the record, I usually bowed to the editor’s greater experience anyway, but I now feel bad about all the things I muttered under my breath while cutting the text.)