There is something about event cinema that is just so appealing and there is no doubt that Peter Jackson’s movies are just that. In this second installment, we are straight into the action. Bilbo is showing the greed and bravado that comes with carrying the ring, the dwarves are tetchy and the orcs are quite monstrous. And New Zealand looks great. It effortlessly frames those amazing views of Gandalf et al atop a mountain ridge. Tourists take note.
The story can be absorbing to the extent that when the characters split off in different directions, you can become so wrapped up in what’s happening to them that you have quite forgotten that there’s another group on their own adventure elsewhere. It is certainly never, ever boring. Be warned though. There is very little of the light relief we might have seen previously, no green and pleasant Shire this time. Some parts are the stuff of nightmare. Appropriately being a 12A rating means that this is not a film for the very young and impressionable, and what some might find horrible can justifiably be included.
The most astounding thing about these movies, is the marrying of live action and computer generated sequences. And the CGI is just great. I mean truly great. If you watched The Lord of The Rings series, then marveled at how in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Golum just seemed so much more advanced and real, wait until you see this. There is one escape scene that is so good that I couldn’t decipher which parts were live action and which parts were coming out of a hard drive. Smaug the dragon emerging from the treasure, stalking his way around the masonry and speaking in a growl provided by Benedict Cumberbatch is just fantastic. It’s a real wow moment when Smaug unfolds his wings to fly. In fact I do wonder if Peter Jackson made a decision to wait to create The Hobbit series, just to give enough time to allow the technology to be sophisticated enough to do Smaug justice.
There is no doubt that the CGI in Jackson’s films is top notch and it has taken a long time for other franchises to catch up with him, but sometimes I was left thinking it was just a bit too much. I love the fact that I am amazed by creations like Smaug, but do we really need to follow a winding shot through a building, purely created by computers, before we can fall on wherever the action is? It seems a bit unnecessary and time consuming, and on occasion I was left thinking that just because they can do something doesn’t mean that they should. Rather than dizzying around the screen with some computer generated sequence, however clever it is, at times I would have preferred to have cut straight to the action. Maybe there’s just something about the ring that makes everybody greedy.