The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

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You know what made the Lord of the Rings great? The immense scope of the story and the way that the humanity of the characters drew you into an otherwise unbelievable world. JRR Tolkien is arguably the father of the high fantasy genre, and his works on Middle-earth have inspired generations of authors.

When the Lord of the Rings movies came out, you know what made them great? The attention to detail, The use of “bigatures” and forced perspective instead of computer graphics wherever possible to add a sense of organic realism, the way they took from the three rather long books and the appendices to form three cohesive and self contained movies with obvious story arches. Yes, they moved things around, like Boromir’s fate and Frodo and Sam meeting up with Shelob. Yes, they changed the character of Faramir, and added Arwen into scenes in the actual story (the love story between her and Aragorn was only in the appendecies of the books). But they did these things to pace the story better for the medium of film and also – in the case of Arwen and Aragorn to appeal to a wider audience.
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The choices they made seemed logical, and seemed to be well though out. And when you think of the epic scope of the Lord of the Rings over 1200 pages The fact that they were able to keep the trilogy of books contained in a trilogy of movies was a magnificent feat.

BUT this post isn’t about the Lord of the Rings, it’s about the Hobbit. A book written by JRR Tolkein about 20 years prior to the Lord of the Rings, and it is a lighter and much shorter story. I could write more on Tolkein and his creation of Middle-earth and the way Lord of the Rings became an outlet for his PTSD after serving in World War I, but I’m supposed to be reviewing the Hobbit.

If you compare the books of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, they are quite different. The Hobbit a lighter story, and an easier read, with silly names, and a fun adventures. There isn’t the great doom of an ever strengthening enemy. It is also a significantly shorter book than the Two Towers – the shortest volume of the Lord of the Rings.

So why did they turn this little novel for children into three movies? Why did they make nearly everything CG? Why did they go over the top cartoony with some of the Dwarves, add in the most rediculous love triangle, and forget pretty much everything they did to make the Lord of the Rings movies as good and as timeless as they are?

I don’t know.

And anyways, I’m really only supposed to be reviewing the final installment in the trilogy that really should have been only one movie.

CAUTION: Spoilers.

———-

The movie starts with Smaug dieing. Why did they do that? They could have put that in the second movie and given it a sense of closure. They knew that simply “The Hobbit” would be enough to have the seat filling in theatres everywhere regardless of when Smaug dies.

For example, I didn’t want to see this movie because of how disappointed I was with the first two. But I knew I was going to see it anyways, because I love Middle-earth, and Howard Shore’s musical scores in ALL the movies. And if I’m honest with myself, I was hoping the series would redeem itself.

So yeah, Smaug dies, then Thorin starts to get gold fever, and the armies come. The rest of the movie is fighting. New characters are introduced including a ginger dwarf who is completely and unnecessarily CG in all but maybe one shot. There was very little character development of any of the characters and the only breaks in the fighting gave exposition into the story of Sauron and had no bearing on the Hobbit except to remind us of how good the Lord of the Rings are in comparison.

CG everything is crap. I remember being blown away by the interaction between Gollum and especially Sam, there’s none of that in this movie. Where’s Andy Serkis in a gimp suit when you need him? It felt like actors on a green screen interacting with nothing.

The way the film was shot started to give me vertigo after a while and I saw it in 2D and I usually have guts of steel.

I have never understood trying to build suspense using characters we all know are going to survive! “Oh noes! Gandalf! Waaaaait a minute! Didn’t you go to Bilbo’s birthday party and then later battle a Balrog and then bring in reinfrocements at sunrise to the Battle at Helm’s deep?” “Oh noes! Legolas! Waaait a minute! what are you doing helping these Dwarves, doesn’t that go against your character at this point in your life? And aren’t you a member of the Fellowship? In, like, 80 years? Yeah… I’m not worried about your well being right now. Move along.”

There really isn’t much plot to this movie, the motivations of the different armies to go to war are not well indicated. The movie is a mess. But when it’s done, Bilbo goes back to the Shire and I wish I was there with him.

Just days after I saw this final film from Middle-earth (probably the last new Tolkein work adapted to film I will see in my lifetime) I sat down with some of my fam-jam, ate Lembas Bread and embarked on a journey with my old pal Frodo.

If Peter Jackson proved anything with his prequel trilogy it’s that awesome films should not be followed up with a prequel trilogy. You can’t get back the magic.

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