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The dwarves see the ruins of Dale – the Desolation of Smaug.
Source: RichardArmitageNet.

 

Ok so that might be a slight exaggeration but on Saturday I finally saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It seems that working for a living is not conducive to visiting the cinema on the day a film is released. When I saw An Unexpected Journey last year I came out of the cinema feeling rather overly emotional. This time I wasn’t moved to tears but that doesn’t mean I was unaffected by it.

 

I watched the film in glorious HFR and I can’t tell you what relief I felt when the Warner Brothers logo appeared. I felt like I was melting into the screen as my eyes settled into the beautiful world of Middle-earth. The 3D trailers shown before it were dire at best and I’ll never understand how anyone can enjoy watching standard 3D. If Spiderman is going to swing through the air then I would at least hope to see him swing smoothly rather than some bizarre stuttering effect where it feels like I’m watching each individual frame frozen for a split second as it flits past the lens of the projector. Also, in each of the trailers it appeared as if the 3D was just there because it could be. It didn’t add anything to the image and, if anything, seemed to be an excuse to blur everything that wasn’t in the foreground. In the end I had to look away because it strained my eyes. The HFR was, as I said, a relief.

 

This time around it didn’t take me any time to adjust to the HFR because it just felt so natural. I once again felt the urge I experienced last year and wanted to get out of my seat and step into Middle-earth. The 3D, so obvious and in your face in the trailers, seemed simply to enhance the beauty and spectacle. By the end of the film I’d forgotten I was watching in 3D and the harsh reality of the cinema lights and the real world were not at all welcome.

 

To me, this kind of cinema experience is what it’s all about. The escapism, the sense that you’ve been somewhere else for three hours, the slightly trippy feeling when you step back outside, all add to the sheer enjoyment of watching a truly wonderful film.

 

There were moments in the film that made me want to clap and shout with joy and there were moments that filled me with foreboding. I nearly shouted out when I spotted Peter Jackson at the very beginning mainly because I was so pleased with myself for having actually seen him. I usually miss stuff like that! I also wanted to applaud when Bombur showed us that he may be the tubbiest dwarf but he ain’t half got some moves on him! I’m not scared of spiders but even I had to look away a couple of times because they just looked a little too real! And, some pretty little bees flew out of the screen but because bees and wasps really do terrify me, I had to look away again.

 

Thorin reveals his identity in Lake Town. Source: RichardArmitageNet.

 

But what of Thorin? Still fierce, still drawing my eye and still beautifully acted by Richard Armitage. The memories of him I will take away are too numerous to mention but include him eating in the Prancing Pony, his speech in Lake Town, him with Thranduil, the stamping of his boot as he stopped the key from falling, the wheelbarrow surfing, his goading of Smaug and so much more.

 

Ah yes, Smaug. The intelligent and charming fire-breathing winged beast. Well, Smaug blew me away. Figuratively, not literally. What Benedict Cumberbatch can’t do with his voice is not worth doing quite frankly!

 

The beauty of the film is the thing that will live with me the longest. The awe-inspiring New Zealand landscape was breathtaking but so was everything else. The rooftops of Bree, the squalor of Lake Town, the magnificence and grandeur of Erebor – they all left me wanting to see more.

 

So why the desolation of my mind? When I left the cinema I wandered around the shops in a bit of a daze. Everywhere I went I imagined I could still hear it: the gentle thrum of Middle-earth still buzzing in my mind. I could hear the different languages, the Black Speech of the Orcs, Khuzdul and Elvish. It was as if I was on the edge of a rift between two worlds. Or maybe I’ve just been watching too much Doctor Who …

 

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I’m not going to say a lot about this but I can’t let it pass without saying something.

 

I just returned home after seeing Thor: The Dark World and am struggling to remove the smile from my face. Some time ago I admitted that I’d developed an admiration for Tom Hiddleston despite remaining impervious to the charms of Loki, the God of Mischief. I couldn’t get past the hair – I’ve never been keen on men with long hair.

 

Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Thor: The Dark World. Source.

 

I watched the trailers for this latest Thor film and decided that I definitely wanted to see it because, apart from anything else, it looked like a damn good film. In preparation I obtained copies of Thor and Avengers Assemble; if I was going to immerse myself in this Marvel world I wanted to know more about it. I loved the films and while I thought Tom Hiddleston gave a brilliant performance as Loki I was still having issues with the hair.

 

So today I took my rather over-excited self into town to the cinema. I forewent the sugar overload of the pic’n’mix and settled for popcorn. I now remember why I don’t eat it – sore mouth! I settled down in my seat and waited. The endless stream of adverts and trailers for films I have no desire to see was greatly improved by a trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It looked fantastic on the big screen; something else to get excited about. And then it started.

 

I don’t intend to give anything away as I would hate to spoil it for anyone else so I will try to be vague. This film blew me away with its beauty (Asgard is stunning), humour (there is so much), surprises (plenty) and heart-rending storylines. I defy you not to gasp and laugh out loud – I did. I also defy you not to weep or at least suffer from a little dust in your eye. I love that a lot of the action takes place in London and that, as can often happen, the English appear not to have been ridiculously stereotyped. And I also love Loki.

 

Yes … you read that right. I have succumbed to the charms of the mischievous one, the shape-shifter, the frost giant. If he demanded that I kneel I would gladly do so … well ok, I’d probably kneel whether he demanded it or not but we won’t go there. Suffice it to say I finally understand what all the fuss is about and testament to this fact was me sitting in the car on the way home singing along loudly to Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, which coincidentally happened to be playing on the radio, and changing the lyrics to “Get Loki”. The God of Mischief would have been proud of me!

 

There was one moment in the film that had me quite literally sitting there with my tongue hanging out. I just about managed to avoid drooling into my popcorn. I don’t remember the last time I was quite so affected by a naked torso. And no, it wasn’t Loki’s. I think it’s fair to say that I would kneel for Thor too!

 

Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Thor: The Dark World. Source.

 

Anyway, I wholeheartedly recommend this film. For me, and remember I’m only a shallow viewer of films, it was enormously entertaining, visually spectacular and so good I’d like to see it again. All the performances were outstanding but the double act of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston is truly wonderful. I really hope we get to see it again.

 

Go see it! And stay until the very very end of the credits, you’ll kick yourself if you don’t.

 

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Source: richardarmitagenet.com

Middle-earth. Source: richardarmitagenet.com

 

I never read The Hobbit as a child … it was so far off my radar I wasn’t even aware it existed. I was raised on a diet of Arthur Ransome‘s Swallows and Amazons and a book called The Chipmunks of Willow Wood by Elleston Trevor. I don’t think I read any fantasy fiction until I discovered Terry Pratchett when I was at university. Aged 40, I still haven’t read any Tolkien but that may change before too long.

 

In a failed attempt to curb my impatience for The Hobbit, I recently re-watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I saw the films when they were first released and loved the first one before getting somewhat bogged down in the other two. Second-time round, and most probably as a result of a growing interest in Middle-earth nurtured by Peter Jackson’s video logs and the impending Hobbit-fest, I was completely enthralled by them.

 

And so to The Hobbit … never before have I spent so long anticipating the release of a film, or, for that matter, taken such an interest in the making of it. I admit, my initial fascination was with Richard Armitage but as time went on I genuinely became eager to see it for everything else it promised. Yesterday I was anxious, excited too, but worried that it wouldn’t live up to my impossibly high expectations, that I would struggle with the 3D, or that I would find myself looking at my watch.

 

So, I settled down with a big bag of pic’n’mix and a coke, waited for the lights to dim and for an instruction to don the 3D glasses.

 

3D glasses finally balancing precariously on my nose (always awkward when there’s already a pair of normal glasses there), two trailers were shown in normal 3D. The first, I couldn’t watch. I don’t know what it was for but I couldn’t focus on the screen and could feel it messing with my head. I looked away and waited for it to finish. This was reminiscent of my only other experience of 3D which caused a massive migraine. The second trailer, for Man of Steel, was fine, but I assume that was something to do with the speed of the action, as in it was slow. I remained confident in the assurances I’d heard that 48 fps would reduce the risk of migraine.

 

Then, The Hobbit started and right from the moment the Warner Brothers logo appeared on the screen it felt different. Yes, the first few minutes seemed a bit strange, but my eyes just seemed to relax into it and it became normal. Normal, but different! My eyes felt relaxed the entire time, I didn’t want to take the glasses off, I didn’t want to look away, and, most importantly, I didn’t have a headache!

 

I’ve seen reports saying the 48 fps makes the actors’ makeup obvious and the sets look like sets but I have to disagree. I’m no expert, but I was so immersed in Middle-earth it just seemed real to me. The 3D wasn’t about things jumping out at you, it was about giving the film depth and that, for me, is what worked so well. I began to wonder what would happen if I got out of my seat and stepped forward. I felt certain that if I did, I would walk into the true reality of this fantasy world and experience it for myself. It looked beautiful, familiar because of Lord of the Rings, but jaw-droppingly and breathtakingly stunning.

 

As for the actors … what actors? You mean, they’re not really dwarves, wizards, hobbits and such-like? Seriously though, I wouldn’t want to single out any one performance for being outstanding because I think they all were. I was struck by the individuality of the dwarves, each with their little foibles and nuances. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t especially struck with Thorin who was regal, princely, fierce and inspiring. I’d happily follow him on any quest! But, despite my obvious bias I loved each and every character. The advantage of not having read the book is that I had no preconceived idea about what they should look like or how they should behave, so I could accept Peter Jackson’s vision without any complaints.

 

Richard Armitage as the regal and fierce Thorin Oakenshield. Source: richardarmitagenet.com

Richard Armitage as the regal and fierce Thorin Oakenshield.
Source: richardarmitagenet.com

 

There were a couple of scenes that I’d heard Richard Armitage mention as being ones that had particularly moved him and watching them, I could understand why. I, like him, was moved to tears. In fact, when I left the cinema, I was sorely tempted to run back to my car and sob I felt so emotional, but alas, Christmas shopping beckoned.

 

The end of the film arrived all too quickly. I hadn’t once wondered about the time or yawned or wished it would hurry up and finish. I didn’t want it to end. Walking out, I could quite happily have walked straight back in and watched more, or simply watched it again. How I’m supposed to wait a whole year for the next one is beyond me!

 

I will go back to see it again. The 3D is something I won’t experience at home for a very long time so I want the opportunity to re-immerse myself in that world before I’m left with a 2D DVD as my only memento of what is honestly the best film I have ever seen.

 

At some point in the 2 hours and 46 minutes I was watching the film, I lost my heart. Not to a princely dwarf as you might expect (although he can have it any time he wishes), but to a whole world … Middle-earth.

 

 

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