Short Attention Span Review™
While not as bad as The Desolation of Smaug, nor as good as An Unexpected Journey, this "defining" installment falls squarely in between its two predecessors. Again, as a translation of the book comparisons can barely be made . . . The Hobbit is in there, somewhere, we think. Just suppress your desire to yell "The spice must flow!!" when the were-worms show up on screen.
Neal SaysBetter late than never, eh Amy? I remember back in the day we would go to a movie every weekend, sometimes two. I had every intention of going to see The Battle of the Five Armies when it hit theaters, but found it really difficult to muster up any excitement after the lackluster An Unexpected Journeyand Desolation of Smauginstallments. Not suprising, the final installment of The Hobbit trilogy (I still can’t believe I need to identify a 255 page book as a near 9 hour movie trilogy!) fares no better than its shoddy predecessors.
I know you often cast a less critical an eye on films than I do, and generally I’m pretty forgiving, but when you go mucking (I wanted to use an ‘f’ there) around with a fantasy classic I tend to be much more critical. Five Armies isn’t a disaster, but it suffers from everything ailing the first movies. The arch nemesis that’s setup on in Desolation, Smaug, is summarily dispatched within the first few minutes of Five Armies. Which is fine, as he should have been killed in Desolation anyway. There’s completely unnecessary exposition that mires down a classic fantasy tale for the sole purpose of making a direct connection to The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy in hopes of driving additional Blu-ray/DVD sales. Eighty percent of the movie feels like I’m watching a cartoon. All the brilliant live action cinematography present in the LotR trilogy are completely absent, replaced by lifeless, rubbery and fake CGI. Case in point: Dáin Ironfoot riding a giant pig, sounding like Fat Bastard, and with worse lip syncing than a One Direction concert. Then there’s the battle with Sauron, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Nazgûl, and Agent Smith! I found the Nazgûl in The Lord of the Rings trilogy much more menacing. I could go on, trust me I could . . . but I shan’t.
Amy SaysYeah, Neal, I do admit that I was a little surprised that we didn’t see this in the theater. It’s not like we were super busy when it came out considering we were home for the holidays. Guess I still haven’t quite gotten over the loser smoking his e-cig in the theater . . . a movie has to be really good for me to venture out and endure dealing with uncouth moviegoers.
It’s true, I’m not nearly as critical about this series as you are, but I did not enjoy The Battle of the Five Armies as much as I did An Unexpected Journey. Regardless of what Peter Jackson did to mess up this film, I don’t know that I would have liked it even if it had remained true to the book. Now, don’t get mad at me for dissing the source material, but I wasn’t a fan of this chapter of the book. Granted, it was only five pages, but Bilbo slipped on the ring and disappeared for most of the battle. When he does show himself to shout that the eagles are coming, he gets knocked out with a rock and misses the rest of the battle. At least he is part of the action in the film.
One other thing I like more in the films is that the elves are regal as opposed to the goofy songsters of the book. Yet, I was not at all fond of the love triangle between Legolas, Tauriel, and Kili. Yes, the “because it was real” line made me cry, but that has more to do with real life than this film. Okay, Legolas leaving at the end due to unrequited love also made me a little sad. And Kili’s death was upsetting. And Tauriel trying to save him was heroic. Yet, they certainly were no Elyn and Thork . . . now, that’s a love story! But, I digress.
Wait, one more thing. Amy, where Five Armies really jumped the shark for me was the “Were-worms!” scene. When Gandalf uttered those words and I saw Muad’dib riding giant sandworms in Middle-earth (Okay, I imagined I saw Muad’dib), I paused and re-watched it three times! You were there, you saw my reaction! I literally shut off the Blu-ray player and said “I’m done.” Yes, I know they were only mentioned once, in passing, in all of Tolkien’s lore. I had to look it up! That doesn’t give Jackson carte blanche to add unnecessary shit to his movies . . . like King Kong.
We finished it the next day, but that scene was just the culmination of ridiculousness packed into this trilogy. There was fear that Peter Jackson might go the way of George Lucas, and to some extent he has. He went unnecessarily far with these movie when he should have stuck with the proven production formula he used when making The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Thankfully we still have The Hobbit book to fall back on.
So, Neal, what was up with Bard using his son to shoot the arrow into Smaug?! Your comment about it taking off the kid’s head while we were watching the movie made me laugh. And don’t even get me started on the stupid cart he used to save his family. Gave me bad flashbacks of the lame barrel scene in the last movie. Every time I see scenes like that, I imagine some theme park executive buttering up the director to add a sequence that can be turned into a roller coaster ride. Now, that isn’t always a bad thing . . . I, for one, am ready for a trip to Diagon Alley! But, once again, I digress.
Okay, so I have to end this on a positive note. The acting in all three films was excellent. I just saw an interview with Eddie Redmayne where he shared a story about reading for the role of Bilbo. I seriously can’t imagine anyone other than Martin Freeman playing the role . . . well, Ian Holm . . . but, you know what I mean! Regardless of the revised story and cartoonish effects in some parts of the film, the actors made me believe, and that’s really what I want when I see a movie. So, I’m giving the overall film a three star rating, but that is no reflection on the performers; I thought they were fantastic.