Picoreview: The Desolation of Smaug

Picoreview: The Desolation of Smaug: It is my personal hope that there will be a 2 hour Director’s Cut of The Hobbit that only has, you know. The stuff in the book.

We re-watched An Unexpected Journey last night, which is frankly a long, long movie in which almost nothing happens. Smaug possibly, if you look at it sideways, has more happen, but (major structural spoilers ahoy)

they cut the movie in the wrong fucking place. I mean, as in, they left me genuinely pissed off at the end. The movie’s title is the desolation of Smaug. They spend the whole movie building up to Smaug (in fact, it took so long that I was actually beginning to wonder if we were really going to *see* him in this movie), we finally get him, and you know, to my mind, the desolation of Smaug means we’re gonna get to see him do some desolating.

And they fucking cut it before he razes Laketown.


Smaug himself was very good. I’m exceedingly picky about dragons, and while I prefer mine to have four legs and two wings, I’m willing to concede that Tolkien’s vision was different and by those lights, Smaug is hands down the best CGI dragon I’ve ever seen. He remains in scale (why, gentle readers, do dwarves, who are a short people, build such high fucking ceilings?), he’s nicely voiced, I like the shape of his pupil, and there’s a genuinely beautiful moment with him covered in molten gold.

It was nice to see Legolas again, I guess. I was happier to see Legolas’s human half-brotherBard, whom I enjoyed, and the guy playing Legolas & Bard’s father is awesome levels of wood-elf crazy, totally for the win. (No, they have not really made them brothers. It’s just they look enough alike that when I first saw the trailers I kept thinking that couldn’t actually be Bard because he looked too much like an elf. Like Legolas, specifically. So in my head canon, half brothers.)

I loved the wholly invented Tauriel. I loved Kili. Ted tells me that Kili dies at the end of THE HOBBIT, which I do not remember (I remember very little from the book, which I read once 30 years ago), and I’m like KILI DIES? SO BASICALLY THERE WILL BE NOTHING IN THE LAST MOVIE THAT I LIKE?

And honestly, right now I’m pissed off enough about being cheated out of the Laketown scene that I’m disinclined to see the final movie anyway.

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4 thoughts on “Picoreview: The Desolation of Smaug

  1. The Desolation of Smaug in the book refers to an area they travel through to get to the Lonely Mountain rather than an act commited by Smaug during the story.

    So, technically Smaug doesn’t have to do anything for the title to be valid. They just have to travel from the Long Lake to the Lonely Mountain. Kind of lucky Smaug turns up at all.

    Not saying that they did a good job, just that they can get away with it on a technicality. Perhaps “On the Doorstep” might have been a more accurate title. Not quite as catchy though.

  2. I’m picky about my dragons as well, but I think that the movie design is less Tolkien’s vision than modern designers; at least since Vermithrax Pejorative the tendency seems to have been towards wyvern-like dracoforms, probably because anatomists decry six-limbed vertebrates (earning my ire in the process; a quirk of the Cambrian explosion should not be held as a universal law in fantasy worlds).

    All the dragon images I’ve seen that were drawn by Tolkien himself have four legs. I think the major issue you might have with his dragons (in books rather than drawings) is that many of them lack wings (I believe Ancalagon was the first winged dragon, and he was rather late in the Wars); they’re more orm-ish.

    1. In that case, Smaug was Not Right, but he was still a very good dragon. And Tolkien’s could clearly fly whether he drew them with wings or not, since Smaug did… :)

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