An excess of elf confidence? The Hobbit: The desolation of Smaug movie review


It’s a snow day in Israel, where one can’t get to school or work, but find time to goof off at the movies – so half the Kosher Kritic family slunk off to use someone else’s heating for a few hours and visited the multiplex.

And it was a few hours indeed, as we went for the bottom numbing nearly three hour The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

We opted for the new super duper ultra Hi Def 3D version called HFR (High Frame Rate), and this was a BIG mistake that I would advise everybody against doing.

I heard about this new film process for the first Hobbit movie, but didn’t check it out then, as it had some really poor buzz. I should have stuck to my guns, and not let curiosity get the better of me.

It’s a fascinating process, where you take a multi million dollar production, and make it look like it’s been recorded on your new camcorder you got for Chanukah. Really, what were they thinking? It looks awful! Less the shimmering magical vistas of middle earth and more a detergent commercial.

Did they not get a hint when it got panned for the last movie? Well, in all fairness to them, evidently I didn’t. You know how great this process is?  Well, you can tell by all the other movies that’s adopted it.


Uh huh, zero. Case closed. I get the feeling we’ll only ever see HFR again one more time, and that’ll be for the 3rd Hobbit flick next year.

Now, this was really a crying shame, as it’s a pretty decent movie.

If you’re a boy, that is.

Now, before you start going hurling accusations for sexism at me, I’m only judging from my experience. My two daughters declined to go, so it was just the erstwhile Kosher Kiritic himself, his two sons and his good lady wife.

And Mrs. Kosher Kritic was not impressed. About an hour in, she was fashioning a makeshift gallows out of an empty popcorn bucket. When the break came she danced for joy and bolted for the door.

As an aside, when the break did happen it was in THE MIDDLE OF A FREAKING SCENE! Really, Israel, I know it’s a long movie, but can’t you hold a liter of diet coke in your bladder for more than 2, 40 minutes.  What is up with that? And can’t you find an appropriate place to make the break?  And maybe, just maybe…have some pity on us and turn the lights up slowly instead of just flicking the light switch on.

What I’m saying is, have some respect for the product your selling and the customers you’re selling it to.

But I digress…back to the movie.

So, assuming you’re a boy, and see it NOT in HFR, it’s a pretty darned entertaining experience.

Rattling along at a nice pace, you didn’t feel the long run time at all.  In fact when it ended on a cliffhanger, I could have kept on sitting and watching the next part right there and then.

Picking up where the last part left off, a bunch of dwarves and that bloke from the English version of ‘The Office’ wearing a big rubber feet are on a quest to reclaim the mountain city of the aforementioned dwarf party from a deadly dragon.

Pursued by a seemingly limitless supply of Orcs, they experience much danger and daring do on their quest.

They bump into the Elfish fairy folk of the woodlands. Orlando Bloom pops up reprising his role from the Lord of the Rings and is joined by Evangeline Lilly from ‘Lost’.

Now, I’ll be frank – the character Evangeline Lilly played in ‘Lost’ just irritated the hell out of me. But not as much as Ms. Lilly did herself whenever I heard her interviewed.

‘What, me? Beautiful?’ she’d fein with obvious false modesty.

‘Get over yourself, darling,’ I’d think to myself on those occasions. So, I was really surprised that she totally won me over with her performance.

Her fight scenes, along with Orlando Bloom were just fantastic! A real blend of grace and high octane action.

The cast is almost all uniformly good, with everybody in the ensemble getting some good screen time. Stephen Fry, the greatest living Englishman, pops up for an enjoyable supporting role as the corrupt and bumblingly inefficient ‘Master’ of Laketown.

Also former Dr Who, Sylvester McCoy, is a lot of fun as the wizard, Radagast the brown, chum of Ian McKellan’s Gandolf the Gray.

The best supporting role goes to the wonderfully menacing Benedict Cumberbatch (the bad guy from this year’s Star Trek movie, and TV’s Sherlock) as the dragon. He voiced this utterly convincing computer generated beastie, and also portrayed him via motion capture. Although how you perform a dragon via motion capture is beyond me. It’s going to be a hoot to watch him do it on the DVD. I hope he had to wear one of those utterly embarrassing skin tight lycra body suites with ping pong balls all over it.

As you’d expect, the special effects are excellent throughout, and there’s a real energy and power in the action set pieces, whether our heroes are fending off giant spiders or attacking the fearsome dragon.

But is is Kosher?

Yes, of course it is. Unless your offended by inter-species romances, as a Hobbit and an Elf make eyes at each other at one point.

It might be a bit scary for younger kids, and there is a lot of sword play and arrows thunking into skulls and bodies all over the place.

In fact, here’s what I learned. If you are an Orc, and are about to dispatch your foe, don’t triumphantly raise you sword into the air and hold it for a second before delivering the death blow.

You’ll almost certainly be hit by an arrow in your noggin before you can swing your blade.

That did seem to happen about 30 or 40 times over the course of 160 minutes.

Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Rated: PG-13
Run Time: 161 minutes
Release Date: 13, December 2013 (USA) 12 December 2013 (Israel)
Kosher Kritic Rating: 4 Matzo Balls (out of 5)

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About the Author
Tzvi Lebetkin: Writer, Adventurer, Private Consulting Detective & Lover. Kosher Kritic & Rabbi from another planet. Available for screenplays, comic books, weddings, divorces and bar mitzvahs.