The desolation of slog

Since “American Hustle” was sold out, my friend and I went today to see “The Desolation of Smaug”, the second film in Peter Jackson’s new Hobbit trilogy.

The first thing you need to understand is that this film is about seventeen hours long. I’m counting in subjective time. In actual clock time it’s a little shorter.

Yet in all that time, nothing actually happens. The genius of Peter Jackson is that even though nothing is actually happening, we still get to see lots of monsters, and fights, and water rushing, and plenty of really lovely views of New Zealand. I mean, um, Middle Earth.

All nicely intercut with endless scenes of dwarves walking. These scenes are very good for children, because they go on for so long that kids will have plenty of time to escape into their own heads and make up games to pass the time. For example, during one of those endless walking scenes, I was able to count the individual hairs on the head of the person sitting directly in front of me.


Another thing that’s kid friendly about this film is the way it portrays Orcs. Now, those of you who have a passing familiarity with Tolkien might be under the misconception that Orcs are fearsome creatures, savage and malevolent warriors with no purpose in life other than to be perfect and efficient killing machines.

But I learned from this film that no dwarf or hobbit can ever be killed by an Orc. In battle after battle, the cute and cuddly little guys manage to avoid any casualties. Ever. The dwarves even have time for funny and adorable antics in battle that somehow always result in the mighty and musclebound Orcs getting mowed down by the dozen.

It’s all very magical and sweet, if you like that sort of thing. I kept expecting Walt Disney himself to come out in a cameo and invite us to the gift shop afterwards.

There is even a love story of sorts. When an appealing and proud young soldier is wounded in battle, a hot chick with pointy ears from some alien race — who is nearly twice as tall as he is — comes to his rescue, fighting off bad guys with bow and arrow to save her tiny lover. Eventually I realized that I was watching early tests for “Avatar”, so I knew that sooner or later there would be flying dragons.

Speaking of dragons, another thing I learned from this movie is that dwarves and hobbits also cannot be harmed by three hundred foot tall fire breathing dragons. Ever. This is something I had not known.

It’s amazing how much you can learn at the movies.

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