It’s a double 3D blu ray review of two of the Hobbit films! Why? Eh, they’re essentially the same thing so splitting it up seemed senseless. As senseless as turning the Hobbit into three insanely long films!
Okay, I’m not a Hobbit film hater. I know a lot of people hate on Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films and I was sort of one for awhile, but I recently got my hands on Unexpected Journey and Desolation of Smaug on 3D Blu-ray and while I hadn’t seen Smaug prior to getting the blu-ray, I had seen Journey in the theater and it was underwhelming, to say the least. The things I remembered from it were an overly long and unbelievable battle in the goblin mines and the shit all over Radagast’s face. However, on a second viewing I knew what to expect. More importantly, I was able to fast forward through the overly long dwarf song. Jeebus that thing goes on forever. Another major annoyance is the fact that the heroes are saved twice by Gandalf. I don’t remember the book very well, but it was a pretty piss poor plot device to have Gandalf go away for awhile and then show up to save everyone’s ass.
Aside from these issues, the movie was enjoyable for what it was. I guess knowing what to expect and being able to fast forward a bit really helps Unexpected Journey out.
Desolation of Smaug was much better than Journey. While it had some things I really disliked (more on that in a second), overall it was a much stronger chapter. The action was better, the characters weren’t as annoying (well most of them, that is), and there was nothing as bad as the goblin battle.
The barrel ride through the rapids seemed a little over the top yet fun, but then was kind of ruined by a dwarf bouncing around multiple times in his barrel and then using it as armor and then somehow getting into an extra empty barrel. Also there’s some bullshit elf/dwarf love triangle with Legolas that’s a total waste of screen time. Oh and Legolas is kind of an asshole. It might be due to the fact that he experienced a character arc in Lord of the Rings and since this is essentially a prequel, we’re back to square one with the character.
One nitpick that seems glaringly obvious is that the movie is called Desolation of Smaug, but it stops before he does any desolation. It’s like watching Star Wars and not having any wars in it. Dumb.
Despite my issues, I liked Desolation of Smaug quite a bit.
The 3D on these films is great. The movies were filmed in 3D (yay!) and many of the shots show off some nice depth. Some of the best 3D shots feature the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand… I mean Middle Earth. It also makes the stupid goblin battle a bit more tolerable by emphasizing the dangers of falling… which are completely absent for our CGI heroes.
There weren’t a ton of pop outs, however Desolation featured a few decent ones, particularly some large bees that show up.
As nice as the 3D was, it wasn’t very necessary to enjoy the experience. You could watch these flicks either way without the 3D really affecting your experience all that much, except perhaps in the long scenic shots.
The Final Judgement
The two Hobbit films under review here are fun, but are flawed. They’re so long that they could prevent casual 3D viewing (when you watch a 3D movie you pretty much have to look at the screen the whole time because of the glasses), but would better hold up in a 2D flat casual viewing where you can do other stuff like clean the house as you watched.
If you have a 3D display Unexpected Journey and Desolation of Smaug are worthy purchases, but I don’t think they’d win anyone over into buying a 3D TV (like that happens much now anyway… sigh).