Critics' Corner: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The danger of telling people what you think about a "Lord of the Rings" or "Hobbit" movie is how insanely critical they are about its similarity and faithfulness to the book. I am one of those at all times, with any movie that is based on a book, that I don't mind a little deviation and even some embellishment. Movies and books are two different entities.

Books are better because they allow you to imagine on your own how things look and feel or you get inside the head of your characters to see what they are thinking. Movies are better because they do everything visually for you, but they are also saddled with time constraints and the necessity to keeps things moving and interesting.

"The Desolation of Smaug" has received much criticism prior to being viewed because they elected to stretch one book, "The Hobbit", into three movies. Many wondered if it could be rationalized or if it were even possible to 'stretch' the book. Well, with now five movies and a sixth on the way, the lore of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth seems to be momentous. Peter Jackson did stretch "The Hobbit" into three movies and he did it because the material is so full of possibilities. In fact, instead of making us realize that it were possible, he also proved that doing anything less would have been insufficient. Sure, he spruced it up with some things and characters that weren't in the book, but they only added to the movie.

"The Desolation of Smaug" is another middle movie in a 3-movie set and not unlike "Hunger Games", you should know this going in because the conclusion "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" comes out next Christmas. You're paying for an adventure and it is a great one, but the journey, while long, is made even longer by 12 months of separation. Being a middle movie though, it potentially holds all the best parts. The middle after all holds the build up and realization of the great dangers our characters face. Bilbo Baggins' purpose on the journey becomes more realized and the insurmountable danger that is the dragon Smaug is introduced.

"The Hobbit" is a product of my childhood that holds a special place. As a child and a teenager, the richness of adventure and escapism dripped from the books pages. The characters were so vivid in my mind that I spent many days outside of reading the books, thinking I was still there in Middle Earth. The director, Peter Jackson, is taking what all of us could only imagine and making it real and tangible. While he may have some critics for introducing characters like Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) to begin with, by doing so he brought the Wood Elves to the for-front of the story; something the books didn't do, and we should be thanking him for that.

Peter Jackson's take on "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" is epic movie-making, and if anything is worth the price of admission, popcorn and refreshment, it is.