This week I saw the final instalment of The Hobbit trilogy again, this time with my mum, as is routine with PJ’s endeavours in Middle Earth. The first time I saw The Battle of The Five Armies, I quite enjoyed it. I went in with low expectations, and was therefore not disappointed too much by what I saw. It was typical of the sweeping epic we’ve come to expect of Peter Jackson when in Middle Earth. I cried at the sad bits, and smiled at the final scene. But when I came out of the screening and people asked for a review, I found myself saying this:
Look. If you go into this film viewing it as a faithful adaptation of The Hobbit, you will be sorely disheartened. *But* if you sit down ready to enjoy something from the general Middle Earth mythology, then you’ll be quite pleased.
People seemed to be okay with that. And appreciated the honesty obviously. But on coming out of my second time around, I had some new thoughts.
Aside from having the worst movie title since Man On A Ledge, The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies highlights why you should never, ever, ever commit to being involved in something you aren’t totally passionate about. Without a doubt, Jackson poured his heart and soul into adapting Lord of The Rings. It is evident beyond question. But by the time we reach the final in the Hobbit trilogy, it just feels like work. In some parts, it’s work just to keep watching. The dialogue is heavy and boring, and really, downright insulting to those of us with more than ZERO brain functionality. Take for instance:
*30-second pan shot following a huge swarm of bats flying around Gundabad tower*
Tauriel: [in Elvish] They’re swarming!
Legolas: [in English] These bats are bred for one thing…..
*long, concerned stare into the distance*
Is that a joke? Yeah we fucking know that Legolas, they’re evil as shit demons circling what’s just been revealed as a former stronghold of the Witch Kings of Angmar. Several of the other Five Armies are already fighting each other. We fucking know they’re bred for war if they’re getting hyped up at this precise moment. God damn it, we’re not idiots guys.
The above illustrates how I feel about the kind of flat, uninspired writing that punctuates this trilogy. Where we should have seen a continuation of some badass shit from
KateTauriel, we watched her just being a bit sad about the hot dwarf. Where we should have felt a connection with each and every dwarf in the company (because we sure as christ had time to do that) we got to a point where I genuinely thought one of them only appeared in the final film. I still don’t know which character was which, and if you asked me which one Bifur was, I’d look at you and say “errr… James Nesbitt?” because who else is there again? (also holy shit I just googled and James Nesbitt plays Bofur. I WAS CLOSE GUYS SHUTUP.)
Considering we got to know Tauriel – a completely new creation of Jackson’s imagining – through a pointless love story, and I couldn’t tell Oin from Gloin, well. Look. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that’s pretty poor use of your storytelling time Peter.
Also, without giving too much away, Smaug? Come on PJ. Fo’real? I honestly looked at my watch and was like “okay do I go home now or…?” Mmmm. NEVER MIND ABOUT THE PLOT GUYS WE’VE GOT SOME ORC KILLIN’ TO DO. Yikes.
Now this all sounds pretty negative, but you should know that one a surface level of enjoyment, this film rates alright. The cinematography is, as usual, stunning. Big pans and kickass fight scenes make for a visual feast. Galadriel lights up my world on her mission to rescue Gandalf, and the fact that Billy Connolly shows up at one point had me in stitches, and possibly tears of mirth. Sadly, there were some arc issues with quite a few characters, but none more so than Thorin whingey-mcgee Oakenshield. Struggling to come to terms with finally being home in the caves with a bullshit amount of gold, Thorin goes from solid dude to straight-up crazy in like, one scene? He spends a lot of time being weirdly mopey and unable to focus on anything except that shiny fkn Arkenstone, and then later on has a strange moment of clarity in the room where they tried to drown Smaug in liquid gold. It’s all very dramatic. His redemption at the end is alright, but there wasn’t enough of his good side in the beginning to anchor my care factor at the end.
And can I just say this: I am sick to death of the Eagles involvement in fight scenes. Predictable. They were a welcome surprise in LoTR and the first Hobbit film, but I am utterly bored with the “things suck, let’s send in the Eagles!” Middle Earth trope. It’s so tired. This whole film is peppered with things that are tired.
In essence, the studio’s decision to push The Hobbit adaptation from two to three films has impacted PJ’s rep as a director in my eyes, which is an incredible shame considering A) how much I have loved this man’s work in the past and B) the drama surrounded him being signed on for it in the first place. While Jackson’s Hobbit efforts don’t detract from his wonderful work previous to it, I’m always going to be a little skeptical about his future projects. So many of my friends didn’t bother with the second or third instalments, based on the vague train wreck that was The Unexpected Journey. And had Jackson’s initial 2-part vision for The Hobbit been followed through, perhaps we would have seen something as magical as Lord of The Rings. I guess we’ll never know.