Monday night, I went with a bunch of friends to see the second Hobbit film (Desolation of Smaug).
Despite the fact that it was a 10:35pm showing, and that we got home at 2 in the morning, and that I got sick the next day (I'm much better now - thanks for asking!) - it was definitely worth it all.
I've seen a lot of reviews that are saying that this film was better than the first one - and I entirely concur. (Note - I'm not going to try to write a review myself - this is going to be more of a ramble, interspersed with possible fangirling. We'll see...)
Desolation of Smaug somehow had a faster pace than An Unexpected Journey, the first Hobbit movie. It was more compact, more tightly woven. Bilbo was finally getting on his feet as an adventurer - not as nervous about everything, you know? He's not just getting in everyone's way anymore. He's got a sword with a name (the ultimate thing in Fantasy) and he saves his dwarf friends rather impressively. He becomes a true Main Character - he is what the entire story hinges upon. Just like Frodo had better get that Ring to Mordor, it is up to Bilbo to do his burgling and get that Arkenstone. (This isn't the best comparison, by the way. Frodo is obviously on a more important mission, and the motives of The Fellowship can't really be questioned. The motives of Thorin and Co., on the other hand, occasionally can.)
Another huge plus was that almost every single battle had elves in it, which just made it that much more awesome. (I am a big fan of elves - particularly because I am related to one. We are almost certain that my sister has elf-blood in her.) I haven't seen a LOTR movie since last summer, and I always forget just how AWESOME Legolas is until I see him fight again. I must say he makes the battles SO great to watch with all his awesome elf moves. He is clearly up there with my favorite characters. Note that he's not just an excellent archer, but also a spectacular swordsman:
Speaking of elves, they added a new character, not invented by Tolkien. I very rarely say this, so take note of this momentous occasion: I entirely approve. There - I've approved of a change to the original book. What has become of me!?
But c'mon, Legolas deserves a girlfriend, doncha think?
Seriously though, Tauriel is a spectacular character. I really like her. She's a strong elf warrior, but she also is compassionate and has quite a head on her shoulders. She can assess a situation and see where she is most needed.
There's somewhat of a love triangle going on (don't want to give too many spoilers, though), but I really think that it's nothing of consequence. It's just Tauriel being sensible. She sees Legolas can fend for himself, and knows where she is most needed.
Okay, enough about elves.
Time for the dragon.
Spooky looking dragon + Benedict Cumberbatch's voice. Oh, it was perfect. So perfect.
And SO CREEPY.
When Smaug said "I am fire. I AM DEATH!" it gave me goosebumps, it was so creepy. And because it was 3D, sometimes his nose would just be all up in your face and you could see his teeth and...
Well, if I were Bilbo, I would probably have plain out fainted. Seriously.
Talking about the 3D, once someone cut off an orc head, and it came flying at the screen. It made me jump rather high in my seat. There was a part where a bee buzzed up almost to my nose (well, not really, it just looked like it), and I thought, "If I were scared of bees I would be crying right now." Thankfully, I'm not scared of bees. That much.
Okay, back to Smaug. One thing that I didn't get was - why did Bilbo take off the ring so soon? In the book (if I remember rightly), Bilbo remains invisible for quite a bit of his conversation with Smaug. I sort of liked it better when Smaug couldn't exactly see who Bilbo was. (I also haven't read the book since the first movie came out, so my memory's a little rusty.)
So I know that a lot of the movie isn't from the book. There's a lot of added stuff. But I heard somewhere that a bunch of it - all the scenes with Gandalf and the Necromancer and Dol Guldur - are actually from Silmarillion, and this makes me not mind the changes so much. I've never read the Silmarillion, so I can't really judge for myself, but I like consoling myself with the fact that some of the non-Hobbit stuff is at least not completely non-Tolkien.
If any of you have read the Silmarillion - and seen the Hobbit movie(s) - what did you think? Were there a lot of added scenes that weren't pure Tolkien?
I suppose I just have to go and read the Silmarillion myself!
Oh gosh, I just realized I forgot to talk about Bard:
He's a cool fellow, in that he's not on the dwarves' side, but he's not evil either. He just a single dad who wants to support his family, and doesn't want anyone to do anything stupid that would wake up the dragon. He also has a black arrow hidden in his rafters (ahem not in the book ahem). He also has super adorable kids who call him Da. :-)
One whole year to wait until the ending... can I do it? I'm counting on Return of the King at Ravinia Fest this summer to hold me over until There and Back Again.
Have you seen the Hobbit movie(s)? What did you think?