Why "The Desolation of Smaug" is the Only Hobbit Film Worth Watching
In today’s world, so riddled with chaos amongst people and a pandemic looming over humanity for yet another year, what better way to escape the realm of reality than through the medium of film and down the genre path of fantasy?! Thus, the rabbit hole into J.R.R. Tolkien’s work starts today with The Hobbit – a trilogy preceding The Lord of the Rings trilogy (as some of you may know), yet a trilogy that falls far behind its predecessor, The Lord of the Rings, in almost every way. So today I’m here to share my opinion and some light on why The Desolation of Smaug (the second installment of The Hobbit trilogy), is the only Hobbit worth re-watching, or perhaps even watching – cutting your viewing time down from about nine hours, to three. And to the short attention span folk, you are most welcome!
The reason The Desolation of Smaug is superior to the first installation The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and the final installation The Battle of the Five Armies, is quite simple really, in that it is the only film of this trilogy that has more character range and subsequently, more exploration of Middle Earth, we are introduced to the graceful yet lethal fighting style of Elves, and it gives its first winks to The Lord of the Rings with remarks such as “that’s my wee lad Gimli!”. Whereas the first Hobbit focuses on 2 people, a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, a Wizard named Gandalf the Grey, a dozen Dwarfs and of course, Orcs. But what is so bad about that you might ask? Oh I don’t know… the fact that that’s too much focus on the same group of souls for three whole hours? I need range, and I want to learn more about the environment, world, and setting this story is taking place in! Much unlike The Lord of the Rings, where you are introduced to many types of “people” and characters within the three hours that make up the first installment of that trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey spends too much time on the same lot, and I grew tired of them, quickly. And, I should add, the fact that the Dwarfs of Erebor are so irritable, greedy, and close-minded, does not work in their favour of winning the hearts, attention, and respect of the viewers.
But after said unexpected journey, the audience takes a history lesson and trip down memory lane with The Desolation of Smaug and subsequently, are led deeper into the realms of Middle Earth. Now, this is where things finally start to get exciting! A sad thing to say when you need to wait until the second film to say such things, when once again its predecessor (The Lord of the Rings or LOTR for short) already has you feeling that from the first film. With The Desolation of Smaug we are led further afield and introduced to new foes like giant Spiders of Mirkwood, a Skin-Changer, the Wizard Radagast the Brown, the true antagonist being a Necromancer of Dol Guldur, the Elves (finally) with a special highlight on key character Legolas from LOTR (which immediately gives this film brownie points), and the world of Men via the people of Lake-town (which also establishes a link to LOTR with specific reference to The Two Towers and the people of Rohan, their ill King Théoden and his vile advisor Wormtongue, who parallel the idiot duo of the King and advisor of Lake-town). Oh, and last but not least of course, the Dragon, Smaug. What’s more, The Desolation of Smaug is where the audience first learns about the history and bad blood between Elves and Dwarfs – yet another key factor in LOTR and therefore another reason this second Hobbit film is so much more important and interesting, than the first. As you can probably see, this brief introduction alone to The Desolation of Smaug, plainly showcases how much more is involved in the second Hobbit film compared to the first, which undoubtedly makes this film superior to its predecessor in that we learn so much more, are frightened by so much more, are intrigued by so much more, and now have far more complexity with reference to the relationships between and amongst all these characters! But wait, if the case is that layer by layer more detail and players are added to the films, would that not mean that the final installation The Battle of the Five Armies should be the best of all three films? Sadly, no!
The Battle of the Five Armies despite being the last film of The Hobbit trilogy is worse or at least runner up to the worst film in this trilogy. First reason being… no one can confirm who or what makes up the five armies. My guess? Dwarfs, Elves, Men, Orcs, and perhaps… Wizards? But that then leaves out the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, who is vital to the entire progression of the plot and is clearly the title of the trilogy, so surely he and his “kind” must be a player in the war that ensues in The Battle of the Five Armies. But then some people might say, “but he is only one Hobbit, so surely he cannot account for an army of his own.” And truth be told he very well could be a part of the Dwarf army as his “unexpected journey” begins and ends with them, but who can say for sure? And if that is the case, then the Wizard Gandalf the Grey could then be a part of the Dwarf army as well, but that then means he is not a part of the Elf army, with regard to the Kings and Witch-Queen inner circle. As you can see, there is much confusion, over a vital part of the plot that actually is the title of the film – which makes me shake my head because why would you want an audience to be confused over something that is the biggest part of the film? It is pure nonsense. So, taking this all into consideration, how could one possibly believe that the last Hobbit film is the best Hobbit film? The answer simply is, you cannot! And even though viewers are introduced to more characters (specifically more elvin Kings and the Elf Witch-Queen Galadriel) who are vital characters in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the plot and character of some characters (cough Dwarfs... cough cough), plus the ending to the film does not really entrench my attention to the screen and story the way The Lord of the Rings films do or, the way The Desolation of Smaug at least does. And although the more links that are established between The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit means more appreciation from LOTR fans, it simply cannot be said for The Battle of the Five Armies, despite the fact more original characters are present in this film – and that sentence alone speaks volumes! So, my word of advice? Skip the first and third film of The Hobbit trilogy altogether when you're looking to dive into a fantasy world that pulls you right from your own realm of reality… but don’t have the almost ten hours needed to embark on the journey that is, The Lord of the Rings.
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