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Dec 292014

Part Nine ~ Closing Thoughts and a Mordor Star Rating

In this portion of the Mordor Review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, I will give my concluding thoughts on the film and deliver a final grade and a star rating.

In Part One of Mordor’s Review of The Hobbit: DoS, I gave a brief overview of the film. I touched on many areas of The Hobbit: DOS where I feel it shined and other areas was where I feel it failed. In Part Nine of this review we will offer a quick wrap-up and post a few closing thoughts about the second film in The Hobbit trilogy.

Please go HERE to our Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review Page for all nine parts of the Mordor Review!

Let’s begin Part Nine of our review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug with a quick overview.

The second installment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy was a much more exciting film… and in many ways a much better overall movie for the average movie going audience, but to die hard Tolkien fans it was a hard pill to swallow. The points in which Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro veered from the original source material were hard to take and went far a field of Tolkien in this second film. It’s was not just the addition of material from The Lord of the Rings Appendices (a lot of which does not adhere to Canon anyway) that offended, but the changing of integral parts of the main Hobbit story such as the breaking of the Dwarven Company in Lake-town and the Battle with Smaug in Erebor.

The Tolkien Purist vs The Action Movie Fan…

As I have stated many time in my often overlong review of these films, I have talked about the phenomenon of seeing the films with two minds and two hearts…

One side of me is the Tolkien Purist who wants to see on film what Tolkien wrote… and if not exactly what he wrote in words, then at seeing the narrative stay within the spirit of his word as much as possible: much the way that Peter Jackson did in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. There are still moments in the first trilogy when I cringe at the choices made by the filmmakers (such as Frodo sending Sam home, a burping and farting Gimli, Saruman falling upon the spiked wheel), but the overall essence of Tolkien’s writing is definitely felt in these films. In The Hobbit trilogy there is often a sense that small written passages have become a wild thrill ride more akin to a theme park then to Tolkien’s words.

And yet there is the other side of me that enjoys seeing a great action flick, filled with monsters, mayhem and over the top action that Peter Jackson is so good at bringing to the big screen. He also never forgets to give us the small moments when the characters take in all of the terrible and wonderful things happening to them. When Bilbo nearly reveals the Ring to Gandalf outside the Gate of Mirkwood, when he first begins to realise the power that the Ring holds over him after killing the spider, when Tauriel talks about the beauty of Starlight, and at the ending when Bilbo realizes what they have done as the dragon flies towards Lake-town. These are all the small wonderful character moments that balance the wild and fantastical action sequences in these films. 

The Extended Edition…

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug for the most part is a better film in it’s extended form. There are lots of moments when character is developed and many of the actions sequences make more sense with the additional  footage. In my opinion this is a much better version of the film. Over all it makes much more sense and the narrative thread holds together more coherently. These extended cuts don’t feel like extra scenes, but rather integral scenes the were cut for  the sake of time… (probably at Warner Bros. behest.) The additional cuts in the Bree opening scene, at the house of Beorn, the new Mirkwood scenes and especially the inclusion of Thrain in Dol Guldur, made for a much more satisfying viewing of the film.

My overall feeling about the film improved greatly after seeing the extended edition!

Now for the Final Verdict…

So, how will I grade this film? As the Tolkien Purist? Or as a fan of Peter Jackson’s thrill ride films with a heart? I suppose it will naturally have to be a mix of both!

The Tolkien Purist gives this film a C+ and yet the Action Film Lover gives the movie an A-. So, the final Grade for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is rounded out to a solid B! That’s my Grade and I’m sticking to it! It’s funny, this film gets the same Grade as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, but for exactly the opposite reasons.


Now for my Star Rating… out of Five Stars I’m giving this film a 4 Star rating.

Final Rating ~ 4 STARS 

Well, here is is at last, the final Mordor assessment of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug!

I see Fire…

In closing I would like to say a few words on a personal note. I don’t usually share much of my personal life in my reporting here at Mordor ~ The Land of Shadow.com, but I felt compelled to share this about my own experiences as it relates to this film. This is a difficult memory to share and if you want to end this review now, feel free to skip this last part.

The ending credit songI See Fire’ by Ed Sheeran hit me like a ton of bricks the first time I heard it. It holds a special meaning in my heart, that is related to my own personal experiences. In a way, I knew I was going to have to share this in the last part of my review, and I think on some level it was for this reason that I waited so long to finish it. I have shared some of this before, but felt I needed to post it here… as it relates to the song from The Desolation of Smaug.

In 2006 on January 1st, a terrible thing happened that changed me forever…

Our friends and neighbors were murdered in their home and their house was set on fire on New Years Day. Bryan and Kathy and their two young daughters Stella 9 and little Ruby only 4, were brutally murdered in their basement and then the house was set aflame. We first became aware that something was wrong, when a friend who had stopped by to see them came pounding on our front door, screaming for us to call 911. At that time we had no idea what unspeakable things had been happening to our friends and their children, only feet away from our own front door. I will not share with you the ugly details, they are too terrible to recount… all of the awful things we saw and heard that day… and in the weeks after, left scars deep and abiding. I made a memorial tribute to our friends HERE which I’ve shared here on Mordor before. They were completely blameless in the events that occurred, they were simply enjoying their New Years morning, just as we were in our own home, when a terrible evil walked across their path, deadly and devoid of mercy.

The words in the song by Ed Sheeran felt like a fire in my heart…

And if we should die tonight
Then we should all die together

And if the night is burning
I will cover my eyes
For if the dark returns
Then my brothers will die
And as the sky is falling down
It crashed into this lonely town
And with that shadow upon the ground
I hear my people screaming out

Though the men two did this terrible thing to those we cared for and loved were caught, tried and convicted, there can never be closure or resolution in my heart. I wept the first time I heard this song and again in the dark theater when this song played at the end of the film. I don’t suppose that Peter Jackson or Ed Sheeran can ever know the impact that their  films and songs have on our lives, but I am thankful that this song gave me inopportunity process a little bit more of the overwhelming sadness that I still feel about the loss of our friends.

“One day I’ll remember, remember everything that happened. The good, the bad. Those who survived… and those who did not.”   ~ Bilbo at the battle of the five armies.

Please go HERE to our Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review Page for all nine parts of the Mordor Review!

 December 29, 2014  Posted by at 12:35 pm
  • TheMadTitan

    Hey, thank you for finishing your review, I really enjoy reading your thoughts! This post isn’t going to be focused on the Tolkien parts of the film though (This is PitsOfUtumno if you remember me at all). I was really moved by the last part of your review. Even though it was almost 10 years ago, I can imagine the scars that losing loved ones would leave – I know you’ve probably heard it before, but I am really sorry for your loss. I can see now why you waited so long to finish the review. You seem like a great person, and I really enjoy your website. Stay strong and remember to stay strong every day – it’s what your friends would want.

    On a different note, I am eager to read your thoughts on BOFA! We had similar opinions on DOS, somewhat different on AUJ, so I am excited to sink my teeth into your review of The Battle of the Five Armies!

    Have a good one, 🙂

  • Thanks for this long and deep review! It was interesting to compare different thoughts on film’s scenes.
    Will the review on the 3rd film be deep as much as this? My own feelings on the 3rd part are even more controversial: more fun and action to watch, but disappointing very much for Tolkien’s fan.

  • I like the last film very much, but there are thing that bothered me and just went too far… i will discuss them in detail! You can count on it!

  • Thanks for the kind words Pits of Utumno! I indeed remember you… I was uncomfortable sharing something so personal, but it seemed important to share how I felt watching the film and hearing the music at the end… I felt the need to share my experiences since it was a part of how I interpreted the film in my own life.

    You they tell you time heals all wounds and that is true, but it doesn’t mean you ever forget and there are times when I’m transported back to that moment as if it had just happened.