I was very lucky to have watched The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug on the best possible format—the biggest Imax screen in the country at the SM Mall of Asia, in 3D and in HFR, otherwise known as high frame rate or 48 fps.
The biggest achievement of Desolation of Smaug is in the technical arena. It is an absolute masterpiece in that regard. The art direction, set design, special effects, digital effects, make up, editing, sound, camera work, the mastery of all the technology that goes into the art of filmmaking is evident.
If you thought the Imax 3D experience was immersive enough, wait until you experience it in HFR. Because the print is incredibly crisp, defined and clear, you seem to forget the 3D movie effect and think the action is truly happening right in front of you. It truly brings you inside the action like nothing you’ve seen before in the cinema. You’ll feel like a spy following Tolkien’s dwarves, elves, wizards, orcs and hobbit throughout the stunning and wonderfully shot landscape of Middle Earth.
Peter Jackson’s home country of New Zealand appears as Middle Earth, and it is as gorgeous as ever in this format.
I think most people will agree on the impressive work that went into the filmmaking; however, there are likely to be different opinions on how the story went. When I read the five-star review in my favorite movie magazine, Empire, I had higher hopes for the film. I felt the first one was stretched like “butter scraped over too much bread,” as Bilbo would say in The Fellowship of the Ring. This one was better paced, but still felt s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d. The movie, like its predecessor, does not have to be more that two and a half hours long—but it is. Especially considering the obvious: the book The Hobbit is but a fraction of The Fellowship of the Ring (the first book in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy).
I got these figures from Brian Solomon of Forbes magazine:
The Hobbit: 304 pages
The Fellowship of the Ring: 479
The Two Towers: 415
The Return of the King: 347
Clearly, the money-making potential of the franchise is too good an opportunity to pass up. Hence we have the return of Lord of the Rings fangirl favorite Orlando Bloom reprising his role as Legolas—except Legolas was not in The Hobbit. But he’s sure to be a draw.
Also the film introduces a new character, Tauriel, a female elf played by Lost’s Evangeline Lilly who the writers have seen fit to place in some sort of romance triangle with Kili the dwarf and Legolas. Was it all that necessary?
Highlights are the action sequences with the dwarves; a fine performance by Martin Freeman; and Ian McKellen who isn’t on screen enough. And of course, Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).
* * *
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug opened on December 11 in the following formats: regular, HFR, 3D, 3D HFR and 3D HFR Imax (recommended).