I watched The Desolation of Smaug today and overall I really enjoyed it, but rather than a review I decided to give a few quite notes on how to improve a one of the scenes, just in case there is still room in the extended version.
For the first improvement I’ll try to pain a picture. Imagine the barrel scene, a massive CG carnival ride, and about halfway through it moves from a marginally absurd action scene to completely absurd. At this point Bomber’s barrel bounces out of the water and begins to Ping-Pong between orcs like a pinball machine. So far we’re still in the way the movie actually went. At the end he sticks his arms and legs out of the barrel, and we cut away to the shire.
At this point you see elderly Bilbo telling the story to Frodo, who say’s something like, “There’s no way that happened. It makes no sense,” and Bilbo answers that he couldn’t see very well because he was in the water so he’s filling in the details from his imagination.
This may seem a bit jarring, but really no more so than having the movie turn into a cartoon in the middle for no real reason and this gives him a lot more room to have the comic relief and largely absurd moments. After all whether we’re to believe this really happened or not the book was meant to be written by Bilbo so we can assume he may exaggerate a bit to make things more interesting.
Other than that the only thing I might suggest if I were to be given the chance would be to trim a few minutes here and there. As someone who actually really enjoyed the beginning of An unexpected Journey and was never bored there were a few moments in this movie where things which should have been far more exciting simply went on too long. Most notably to me the scenes with Smaug. He looked great and most of the scenes were good, but there were a few too many scenes of feet hitting the ground and fire just barely missing them to the point where it started to lose its impact.
Mostly though it just needs to address the lack of physics in large parts of the movie so that I can stop asking how all the dwarfs didn’t die in situations that should have killed anyone except a cartoon character.