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Driving and Biking in the Big City

Commuter reviews a true trek: the new Hobbit movie

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Honestly, I didn’t realize there would be three new Hobbit movies. For some reason, I’m not on top of the “Lord of the Rings” news like I was the first time. And, considering “The Hobbit” was only one book, I thought it would be one movie. So, in fact, they’ve fooled me twice.

The good news is that we were two hours into viewing “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” at the first 3D showing in my little ‘burb before I realized Smaug had not made a visual appearance in the action at all. So, I must have been plenty entertained anyway. Thus, this review will be all good and reveal almost no surprises for the folks who will be viewing the movie because they are equally Hobbit-crazed nerds.

The only other disappointment for me is that Smaug did very little flying. Me, I like a flying, fire-breathing dragon. Everything else is all good.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

My favorite part

The movie itself made me feel like a kid again on the log ride at Six Flags, my favorite amusement park ride ever. The 3D put us right there in the barrels with the dwarfs, riding over waterfalls and dropping thousands of feet under water, only to resurface again. I could feel the cool water dousing my face in the hot Texas sun just as it was dwarfing these guys in New Zealand (I mean Middle Earth.)

We saw both rain and snow begin to fall and turn into a full blown weather. Birds and butterflies flew right out into the seating area beside me. And once, I totally jumped to get out of the way of a flying Orc head, lost in battle. Orcs are so much more disturbing when you can almost smell their breath, look at their decaying teeth and see what damage has occurred to their noses and eyes.

The elf vs orc fight scene during the barrel ride is my very favorite scene of the entire movie, perhaps because it highlights Legolas. He is as great of an archer as ever and now – 12 years after we first heard of him at age 23 in “Lord of the Rings” – he’s even more agile. I’d say his moves were equal to Spiderman – new or old.

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUGMy favorite character

Legolas is the hero of the movie for me. Perhaps it’s because Orlando Bloom is reprising his role from the first trilogy and I’m a sucker for remembering old times. It’s nice to see an old face from the first three Ring movies carried over to maintain the thread of the plot and all the legends that make up this finely woven new world with all its history.

His girl elf, Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly from “Lost,” is equally spry and deadly and was my new favorite character. She’s just as beautiful as Lady Galadrial, Cate Blanchett, or Liv Tyler as Arwen. When the light shines through her in her big scene, I, too, believe I’m witnessing magic, just as the dwarves say. By the way, this character was not in the original J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m going to reread “The Hobbit” again because I’m just that much of a weirdo, but I can assure you she’s not there.

This new trilogy is at least equally well cast or better cast as the first three. I certainly adored all of the new characters introduced in today’s movie and have been totally taken with the role of Bilbo as portrayed by Martin Freeman, Watson from the new Masterpiece Sherlock Holmes. He gives us excellent acting as well as comic relief. He is our every man; our small, ordinary folk doing great deeds and keeping darkness at bay. Others:

  • Thranduil, lord of Mirkwood, is beautifully and exotically played by Lee Pace. His desire to shield his Elven world from what’s going on around him is portrayed nicely and a bit on the evil side.
  • The ultimate human hero Bard, Luke Evans, is attractive and interesting, although we don’t get a whiff of his big role in this movie, just groundwork is laid.
  • More humans, especially Bard’s kids.
  • Kili, the sexy dwarf? What? Played by Aidan Turner from “Almost Human.” He’s in the original books but his love triangle with Tauriel and Legalos is totally not. Remember, this was a kid’s book, written by Tolkien. I’d say all the Tolkien books were totally asexual (even rowdy and boyish) until Hollywood had a hand in.

Smaug

When the action and the excellent 3D finally slowed for me, I began to know I’d been had again and to count the minutes until Smaug. When he finally makes an appearance, there are only 41 minutes left of the two hour and 41-minute-long movie.

Smaug is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, also of Masterpiece and Sherlock Holmes. Everyone loves to love Cumberbatch, and he has been getting excellent reviews left and right from his portrayal of Holmes to taking over the second Star Trek as Khan. He does a deep, British, growling version of a dragon, exactly how it sounded in my head even as an elementary school girl in Southeast Texas. Oh wait, maybe not. But it really works for me now.

I missed Gollum in this outing. He’s always a favorite of mine.

I nudged my husband-movie companion when Bilbo named his sword Sting in this one because this was the name of John’s racquet from his competitive racquetball days. (He’s at least a borderline Hobbit nerd.)

My perspective

I’ve probably read these books more than I’ve read and re-read anything else in my life, and I’m a pretty rapacious reader. That said and to give you my perspective on your own Hobbit scale, my favorite book of all four is the second book of the trilogy, Twin Towers.

I read the trilogy first, before I finished elementary school and then again in eighth grade before the re-reading when Peter Jackson first started the original trilogy. Thus, I read The Hobbit last and was disappointed compared to the world I was transported to by the trilogy. I remember the frozen lake vision from Twin Towers so clearly even today. It was the first time a book actually caused me nightmares. I still remember that scene and the scene from my dream vividly.

Bottom line: I can’t wait for the next one. More Smaug! More flying!

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