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Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug HFR 3D, or Five Reasons Why This Film Couldn't Cure My Frozen Hangover

Warner Bros. Pictures on YouTube

People ask me if I liked TH:TDOS (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, a.k.a. Yes, I Love Acronyms). Let me put it this way: I was obsessed with Elsa after watching Frozen, and I honestly thought watching TDOS would rid me of my Frozen hangover.

Elf Warrior < Ice Queen

I was wrong. After watching the second film in The Hobbit trilogy, I thought to myself, "Yeah, that was okay, I guess", then immediately went on YouTube to watch "Let It Go" for the nth time.

Oh, Elsa. I love you.

Here are five reasons why The Desolation of Smaug failed to cure my Frozen hangover.

Before we begin...
Richard Armitage = Poor Man's Russell Crowe

1. Forced trilogy
The original plan was to split the Tolkien-penned source material into two (like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). However, due to either the studio’s greed or Peter Jackson’s aversion to brevity, we get three films instead of two. Sometimes more isn’t always good. A story should only be split into parts or episodes IF and ONLY IF it will strengthen the narrative. If it’s split so the studio can make more money... I’m not even going to finish that sentence.

But if it's split for more Benedict Cumberbatch, then I guess... carry on?

2. Try-hard prequel
Merriam-Webster defines "prequel" as "a work whose story precedes that of an earlier work". As such, only The Hobbit films would qualify as a prequel. The original source material─Tolkien's 1937 children's book─does not, because even if the story happens before Lord of the Rings, it wasn't written after LOTR, but before it. This discrepancy between the film and the book takes its toll on the story, as the supposedly stand-alone adventure of thirteen Dwarves and one Hobbit is forcibly being tied to the LOTR film trilogy with contrived parallelisms such as forbidden interracial love and being stuck outside a magical door hidden on the side of a mountain face. They should've adapted this as a children's book instead of a fight-filled fantasy flick.

My strongest bet would be a Pixar version.

3. Peter Jackson’s fatigue
Anyone who's spent more than a decade working in a single film universe will feel drained one way or another. Peter Jackson spent so much time in Middle-Earth that he already looks like a proper Dwarf. Even if the Harry Potter film franchise released more films, at least they used four different directors between them. Probably would've been a good idea if Guillermo Del Torro helmed The Hobbit instead, because at least he could've given us something new. Jackson is a great director, don't get me wrong. But the franchise needs fresh creativity, and Jackson's has been drained since Return of the King.

"This franchise sucked the life out of me." -Peter Jackson 

And now, let us move on to the more technical aspects…

But before that...
Luke Evans = Poor Man's Orlando Bloom

4. HFR + Low light = Meh
HFR (high frame rate) 3D is the best way to see 3D, although its popularity still has to catch on. It was mind-blowing in the first film for two reasons: 1) it was fresh; and 2) the first film was visually much brighter. In TDOS, Thorin and Company move deeper and deeper into the mountains, which means lesser and lesser sunlight, which in turn means darker and darker images. Low light isn't really ideal for 3D films, much less for HFR 3D.

Any darker, and this could be mistaken for a Jesus Christ biopic.

5. HFR + CGI = Meh
Because of the crisp, realistic images of HFR 3D, not only will you get Orlando Bloom's magnified mug in full glory; you can also see Gandalf's sagging, wrinkled skin and Stephen Fry's perfectly symmetrical nose. Those aren't the only imperfections you can see, though. You'll also see the difference between the CGI and live-action footage, which actually clash horribly together onscreen.

Case in point: plastic leaves.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. USA/New Zealand. 2013.

Original rating: 7.80 / 10
Beorn's almost unnecessary presence: - 0.05
Forced love angle: - 0.05
Benedict Cumberbatch's voice: + 0.05
Martin Freeman's acting: + 0.05
Stephen Fry's presence: + 0.01
Final rating: 7.91 / 10

You might also want to read the review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

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