About a year ago, I took my nephew to see the first installment of The Hobbit movies with the best of intentions. Sadly, it ended up being a bit of a failure. I assumed that would be the end of my nephew’s foray into the film world of Tolkien, so I was more than a little surprised when my sister informed me Ty wanted to go and see the second one while I was home over Christmas.
“Does he not remember how bored he was? All the eye rolling in my direction?”
“He does. But, he also told me that, in retrospect, he liked it much more than he first realized.”
“He’s 11. How introspective about movies can he really be?”
With a subtitle like “The Desolation of Smaug”, I knew this movie was not going to be enjoyable. This is another blog for another time, but I also tend to be least fond of the middle chapter of trilogies. Save for Godfather II, I can’t think of any others that really stand out as my favorites and, yes, that includes Empire Strikes Back, which is easily my least favorite of the original three Star Wars flicks.
Ty, being both unaware of how the middle portions of trilogies tend to have a lot of filler and how the book “The Hobbit” ends, came into the movie with unusually high hopes. There were some moments that lived up to his expectations. The sequence of dwarves floating down a rapid river in barrels while defending themselves from Orcs was relatively fun. Some of the showdown with the titular Smaug was enjoyable too.
Most of the movie though was padding–like watching a very long string of deleted scenes in the DVD special features section. The movie opens with what you later learn is a flashback to the Inn of the Prancing Pony where presumed dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield and wise wizard Gandalf concoct their plan to take back the mountain. If you haven’t seen Fellowship of the Ring, the Prancing Pony reference has no meaning. In fact, even if you’ve seen the first Hobbit, this scene, which takes place chronologically before the events of the first film, is incredibly jarring and doesn’t exactly help us the audience refresh our memories about what happened in the last film.
It was only when we were driving to the theater that I realized how much refreshing I needed. Ty was having the same problem. I asked him to remind me what happened in the first movie. His response?
“Well you see there was this hobbit…”
(Did I mention I love the sense of humor this kid is developing?)
Less than a week after seeing the second movie, I find myself in the same boat–I can barely remember what transpired beyond what I have already described. I know what didn’t happen though. Smaug did not get desolated. Err..spoiler alert?
For Ty, the lack of dragon killing came as a big surprise. When the movie reached its rather abrupt conclusion as Smaug flies out of his cave to go wreak havoc, Ty audibly yelled “what??” in frustration, as did a number of others in the audience who felt a little jipped with the whiplash pace of the final minutes.
Knowing enough about how movies are made, I had to chide Ty a little about his expectations. “You really think they are going to slay this dragon in the second movie? What would the third movie be about? Walking back home?”
Once I put it that way, he understood, but that didn’t stop him from going on about how dull this movie was. I didn’t disagree with him, but I did give him another lesson in how movie audiences worked as I explained what was going to happen next year:
“Yeah, buddy, it was long and boring and crappy. Just like the first one was long and boring and crappy. But guess what? Now that we’ve invested six hours of our lives in this stupid, boring crap, you know what we’re doing next Christmas right?”
::silence from the 11 year old audience::
“We’re going to go see the third and final long, boring, crappy movie to find out how it ends.”