And thus we are released from Peter Jackson’s grip around JRR Tolkein’s throat. I’m kidding, he did well… for the most part. Though towards the end, it kind of seemed like he lost control of what he was doing and we ended up with a glorified mess of fake hair, poorly done CG, and strangely comical action scenes.
It’s almost hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong with The Hobbit, when really, the same people are involved (PJ, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Sir Ian Mckellen, Orlando Bloom, etc.) and we’re in the same universe that we loved so much. So why is it that the Hobbit was just, in its entirety, a colossal disappointment? We’ll get to that later. But first, let’s talk about Battle of Five Armies.
We start off right where we left things in Desolation of Smaug. Half of the team (fellowship?) is stuck in the doomed Esgaroth (Lake-town), half of the team – including Thorin and Bilbo – is stuck on the mountain. Smaug sweeps in and sets fire to everything, and there’s literally nothing anyone can do about it. Except for Bard. Bard knows exactly what to do. He leaps through the hordes of screaming people on fire, and shoots the big ass arrow right into the spot where Smaug does not want an arrow to be shot. Smaug is dead.
But of course, the danger isn’t over. In fact, it comes from within. Thorin starts to suffer the effects of “dragon sickness”, a deranged obsession with his newly attained treasure, which eventually leads him to start suspecting his fellow dwarvesmen of stealing his beloved Arkenstone. He’s almost right – Bilbo has it. He has since the last movie.
With Smaug gone, and the treasure “up for grabs”, Azog, the angry white orc with a knife for an arm, comes back with a thirst for the treasures under the mountain. Thranduil, the angry elf with a fabulous steed, comes marching, demanding his share of the wealth. What about Bard? He just fought a dragon, for Christ’s sake. He needs that gold. But with Thorin sitting on his money pile, hissing at anyone that gets close, nobody’s getting anything and everybody’s getting angry.
Bilbo, stuck between a rock and a hard place, does the hardest thing he’s had to do since he left the Shire. He betrays Thorin. He sneaks out of the Mountain, and delivers the Arkenstone to Thranduil, Bard, and Gandalf, hoping it would be used to stave off the impending war. However, his plan backfires, and Thorin declares war. Things become a bloody mess when Dáin – Thorin’s cousin – arrives with his army of stubborn dwarves, and Azog arrives with his army of ugly orcs.
Helmets clash, blood is spilt, and all comes to an end with the line of Durin.
While it still failed to deliver in some aspects, BOFA was with no doubt the stronger – if not the best – film out of the trilogy. It somehow managed to reclaim some of the quintessential Lord of the Rings quality that made the previous films so good. Whether it was the screaming charges into battle, the horns rattling your bones as they blare, it truly felt like this is exactly what was missing in the previous movies. Well, for the first hour or so, then you’re left wondering why you’re feeling bored again.
There was definitely more action in this entire movie than there was in the entire trilogy. No more singing, no more walking. Shit went down. Watching Gandalf and the good guys kick some orc ass was fantastic, but TWO hours of it? No thank you. It felt like they took the climax of what could’ve been a single feature film, and stretched it out for over 2 hours.
As a standalone movie, it doesn’t deliver in terms of emotional gratification. Since most of the movie is spent in battle, and we only get glimpses in tender characters moments, reaching the climax feels hollow. My recommendation would be to watch the previous films as recently as possible, so it’s still fresh in your mind, otherwise this movie’s just going to feel like none of these characters really deserved what happened.
Tauriel and Kili’s romance is no doubt a lovely – albiet, strange and almost unnecessary – addition to the trilogy. We spend so much time on Tauriel and Kili pining for each other in the last movie, that it seems as though their screen time is overshadowing Bilbo and Thorin’s relationship – which in my opinion, is a lot more important. It irritates me that Tauriel (who isn’t even in the book) plays such a huge part in the movie’s climax. Was the original material not enough? That just smells like BS to me.
However, there were still golden moments that made this my favourite our of the three. My favourite part of BOFA was obviously the confrontation between the White Council and the Necromancer. Watching Saruman, Elrond, and Galadriel kick some Ringwraith ass delighted me to no end. And of course, the Sauron reference made me giggly.
Now let’s talk about this trilogy as a whole.
As with the recent trend of splitting single books into multiple movies, the Hobbit trilogy suffers the injustice of being drawn out and strangely paced. A single battle stretched out over the length of a two-hour movie seems like an affront to the LOTR legacy. I think they would’ve benefited greatly if they had gone with their original plan of making two movies instead of three. Too late for that, I guess.
While I love Martin Freeman, and I thought he was great as Bilbo, none of the new characters from The Hobbit were particularly likeable. Can you remember the names the other 11 dwarves that nobody cares about? Would you care if they died? Probably not. And you know that Bilbo and Gandalf are going to live, and just exactly what happens in the LOTR, so where are the stakes? Unlike LOTR, which was a desperate struggle against the end of the world, The Hobbit was about one man’s quest to find treasure.
Remember when An Unexpected Journey came out? The whole world took a collective shit on Peter Jackson’s head for how horrible everything looked. Viggo Mortensen himself said:
Also, Peter was always a geek in terms of technology but, once he had the means to do it, and the evolution of the technology really took off, he never looked back. In the first movie, yes, there’s Rivendell, and Mordor, but there’s sort of an organic quality to it, actors acting with each other, and real landscapes; it’s grittier. The second movie already started ballooning, for my taste, and then by the third one, there were a lot of special effects. It was grandiose, and all that, but whatever was subtle, in the first movie, gradually got lost in the second and third. Now with The Hobbit, one and two, it’s like that to the power of 10.
I still respect Peter Jackson and his team for taking what was claimed as an impossible novel to shoot, and turned it into one of the best trilogies in film history. Though, with each passing Hobbit movie, it becomes harder and harder to remember what made us love him in the first place. It almost seems as though more effort was put into the making of Lord of the Rings a groundbreaker, whereas The Hobbit is more of the same, but just not as good.
I think I’m just gonna watch the original trilogy again. Wash that sour taste of Hobbit out of my mouth.
That sounded wrong.