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T’Cha Dunlevy Hops on the Smile-Review Wagon in “The Smaug”

In response to T'Cha Dunlevy’s 531‑word review of The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug on Montreal Gazette

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The problem with modern film criticism is that critics often appear content to rely on plot summary in five-hundred word reviews rather than offering legit critique.

T‘Cha Dunlevy describes the plot in “Movie review: The Hobbit—The Desolation of Smaug (with video),” and offers a couple lines of analysis before calling it a day.

Hobbit films are a strange phenomenon in film criticism. The new trend is the smile-review, in which the critic acknowledges that the film made them happy. Smaug is no exception, as Dunlevy notes the film is “far better than the first,” but fails to offer any evidence. The critic actually spends more time critiquing the original film.

Dunlevy lets his audience know what to expect in Smaug (“there will be a pit stop in Lake-town”), but never does he comment on the visuals or performances. It as if the viewing experience is shared (“we feel Smaug’s spectacular might”), which is just a polite way of making basic observations.

Names are dropped and scenes are detailed out, but the only real criticism comes at the end when Dunlevy acknowledges that director Jackson makes the film feel like a stand-alone.

Smaug is a kind and gentle review, but one may prefer a whiff of Smaug breath rather than a second reading.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation