This Hob­bit is hob­bling

J.R.R. Tolkien fans will surely geek out on the lat­est in­stall­ment but one of the Reel Guys couldn’t care less about the film

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Scene -

Richard: Mark, de­spite the sense of mild con­fu­sion I felt as I tried to piece the story to­gether, I re­ally en­joyed The Hob­bit: The Des­o­la­tion of Smaug. It took a lot of back­story to get to the fifth film based on Mid­dle-earth and its in­hab­i­tants and it will help if you know your Shire from your Sau­ron or your Skin Chang­ers.

But hav­ing said that, Peter Jack­son has crafted a great ac­tion ad­ven­ture with the same con­sis­tency of tone, style and spirit that runs through the LOTR and Hob­bit movies. They feel like story shards chipped off the same block. Mark: Richard, there are two kinds of peo­ple in this world — those who ad­mire and en­joy the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, and those who are re­pelled by his neo-me­dieval, Druidic non­sense.

You can guess which camp I fall into. I sat through the Rings tril­ogy un­der great duress, and skipped the first Hob­bit en­tirely. So the only ques­tion was how much I would loathe this pic­ture. The good news is: not that much. True, the en­tire movie and ev­ery­one in it needs a hair­cut, but the set pieces worked, es­pe­cially the bar­rel es­cape down the river and the en­tire dragon se­quence. But the movie felt so long I could have flown to Tokyo for din­ner and got­ten back in time for the end cred­its. RC: I think fans will find the length just about right… non­fans, maybe not so much. This one worked for me. There’s a Richard At­ten­bor­ough old school epic­ness about it. It is about good and evil with­out trou­bling nuance or an­ti­heroes.

Per­haps be­cause English­man Tolkien penned these ac­tion ad­ven­ture sto­ries dur­ing the Sec­ond World War when evil was clear-cut, his books are ripe with al­le­gory but straight­for­ward in their ap­proach to moral­ity and good vs. evil. MB: A good point, but maybe it’s pre­cisely that se­ri­ous, hec­tor­ing tone that al­ways turned me off. Evan­ge­line Lilly, on the other hand, did not turn me off — quite the op­po­site.

She re­ally holds the screen even if her ears need cos­metic surgery. But the end­ing — a cliffhang­ing cheat, if you ask me — elicited a col­lec­tive groan from the au­di­ence and made the ex­pe­ri­ence feel in­com­plete. Did you like the dark look of the pic­ture? RC: I did like the look. It’s darker in tone than the Hob­bit books for sure, but I thought it suited Peter Jack­son’s take on the story. I also liked the Walk­ing Dead style bat­tle scenes — lots of ar­rows in heads. MB: I kept hop­ing for some­one to show up with a gun and put them all out of my mis­ery.

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