There and Back Again

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – This was Peter Jackson’s final foray into Middle-Earth, at least until he can get permission to film any of the various scraps of J.R.R. Tolkien’s notes that his son Christopher found lying around. I’ve seen reviews of this trilogy that weren’t too positive, and in some ways I agree with them. I mean, the idea of turning a short book geared largely toward children into three long movies is pretty risky, and so much of it was intended as Lord of the Rings prequel rather than an actual adaptation of The Hobbit. In this last part, there were considerable stretches of time in which Bilbo Baggins didn’t even show up. This was admittedly true to the book in a way, as it was J.R.R. Tolkien’s idea to have some guy come out of nowhere to kill Smaug, and for Bilbo to be knocked out for much of the battle. He actually played a larger role in the proceedings than he did in the source material. It is, however, rather odd for the whole thing to end with a reminder that the story was supposed to be Bilbo’s memoirs, leading me to question why so much of what he wrote was about characters he met only briefly or not at all. That said, I think the movies do work in the sense that they’re good immersive fantasy. You really get drawn into this world and its workings. The trilogy pays more attention to the political structure of the land, giving us more indication as to why the Elves and Dwarves were enemies, and the relation of Lake-Town to the Lonely Mountain. And the visuals were pretty awesome, including such weird details as Dain riding a pig and Thranduil an elk. And I have to say that Dain’s taunting of the Elvenking was pretty amusing. He said what we were all thinking!

While I’m not sure whether such a thing would actually work, Radagast’s rabbit-pulled sleigh is a comical but still impressive vehicle. We also get to see the were-worms that merited the merest mention in Tolkien’s work, although I’m not sure what’s so “were” about them.

Since there’s already a major battle in this film (two, if you count the pretty much inevitably anticlimactic fight of the White Council against Sauron; they obviously couldn’t hurt him that badly if he’s still a threat in Lord of the Rings), Jackson apparently didn’t see the need to throw in more unnecessary fights like he did in the other two. As far as other elements that weren’t in the book at all, Tauriel and Kili’s romantic subplot didn’t really add anything to the plot, but didn’t bother me either; I quite like the character of Tauriel.

On the other hand, the jerkiness and cowardice of Alfrid Lickspittle of Lake-Town seemed a bit unnecessary, like someone decided they needed a version of Wormtongue in this trilogy as well, but couldn’t really think of a decent story arc for him. Overall, though, I enjoyed this latest and possibly last cinematic visit to Middle-Earth.

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4 Responses to There and Back Again

  1. I agree with this entire review. This wouldn’t seem so amazing except most reviews of this movie either loved it or hated it in entirety. It’s cool to see the actual opinions I have. Well, I would have spent much more wordage on the awesomeness of Bilbo, but that’s me.

  2. Pingback: Worm Your Way | VoVatia

  3. Pingback: Food and Cheer Over Hoarded Gold | VoVatia

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