How To Explain The Hobbit To A Non-Nerd

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Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit The Desolation Of Smaug December 2013

(Photo: IMDb)

I can't say that I was particularly looking forward to The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. It comes out today (or last night at  midnight if you're a total badass), but it wasn't one of the screeners that we were exactly fighting over in the office.

I'm not anti- the franchise in general, I just wasn't all that impressed by the last one, An Unexpected Journey. It was great if you love watching people beat video games with improbable feats of strength and coincidences all bundled up in a nauseating film speed, throbbing Technicolor, and literal piles of money…but not so great if you love movies. Or engaging plot lines. Or rewarding stories.

But anyway, I did indeed go to the screening for the second movie, however grudgingly, and slumped myself down in my seat in preparation for two hours and forty-one minutes of exactly the same thing as before. Sigh. But you guys! I was wrong, because it was so great! It was still a video game of sorts, but instead of watching someone else beat each level, you were the actual avatar, and things were happening to you. And for once, I actually think it was an appropriate use of 3D, and I'd actually recommend that you see it that way. Things come flying at you, and jump out, and there's gasping and pearl-clutching and everything. It's pretty legit.

And I want everyone to enjoy it, but I know there's a good chance of that not happening, considering how many people spent the last movie either asleep or with their heads between their knees trying not to vomit. So little even happened in the last film that it's hard to keep track of what this merry band of travelers is up to at the start of The Desolation Of Smaug.

So as a favor to all those non-nerds out there who don't have the book memorized, I'm gonna break this into layman's terms for you, so you know what's going on, and how to explain it to your non-nerd friends in a way that makes them want to see the movie. Because they should! You should! We all should!

Here goes.

This movie wants to confuse you right away, so it starts with a scene that takes place before the first movie. It's between king dwarf and white wizard. Except Thorin isn't actually the king yet, and Gandalf isn't actually white yet. He's still gray. I KNOW IT'S CONFUSING BUT STAY WITH ME. Thorin needs a jewel called the Arkenstone to reclaim his throne and become the King of Erebor, but a silly old dragon named Smaug stole it back when he destroyed their home and burned their ancestors to death. So they need to steal it back, and since hobbits are widely known to be the best stealers, Wizard talks King Dwarf into enlisting Bilbo Baggins to join their party.

[Insert twelve months and first movie here.]

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