I went to a matinee showing of The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies yesterday, and I have opinions (after the cut)!
Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers!
Honestly, I enjoyed myself. I will gladly admit that my taste in movies is abysmal – I saw and enjoyed the Rock’s Hercules flick and Bard the Bowman’s Dracula Untold – but I will also defend the right of people who work for a living in this heartless, neo-feudalist world to just simply enjoy themselves when they pay their ward-earned money to be entertained. Hobbit 3 may not be a great film – it may not even be a good film – but it was entertaining.
Or, at least, it’s entertaining if you like two hour-long fight scenes interspersed with occasional “drama” scenes to let the audience catch its breath.
- If you don’t enjoy Peter Jackson’s ornate, Rube Goldberg-esque action scenes, then you are going to be bored out of your mind.
- Moving Smaug’s attack on Laketown to the third film really robs it of its power. I’ve got an almost eidetic memory for movies, so I was able to walk in remembering exactly what was going on and jump right into the emotional impact of the film, but even I thought it was kind of weak. They tried – Smaug gets some dialogue with Bard, and there’s this wacky reverse-William Tell thing with Bard and his son – but it still feels anti-climactic (especially after Smaug’s appearance on The Colbert Report).
- The White Council vs. the Necromancer is also kind of disappointing -- though kick-as Saruman is both funny and cool. Christopher Lee really sells the moment when Saruman despairs.
- Most of the dwarves just vanish from the narrative. They have nothing to do except stand around looking pensive. This isn’t really Jackson’s fault; Tolkien didn’t know what to do with them either.
- They CGI’d Orlando bloom’s face, right? They did that computer-assisted de-aging thing like in X-Men 3, right? ‘Cause his face looked weird…
- I kept expecting Bard to make a giant fist of bats and it didn't happen.
- NOT ENOUGH BEORN!
The Good Dwarf Stuff
- Dain. Oh my god, Dain is awesome. His war-hog, the tusks in his beard, his Warhammer-esque Mohawk. Oh my god… Did no one realize that Billy Connolly’s swears are actually serious curse words in Britain?! Dain is hilarious and awesome.
- The war-rams. I expect to see D&D stats for dwarvish war-rams and war-hogs (as well as elvish battle-elk) showing up in the blogosphere at any moment.
- I actually really like how Jackson cast Thorin as an anti-Aragorn, drawing out their parallels and contrasts. I think it breaks down a little in Hobbit 3, but just a little. (OK, maybe the “Madness of King Thorin” scene was a bit over-the-top.)
- Thorin vs. Azog is a pretty cool fight.
- Balin. Balin is the best.
The Good Elf Stuff
- Everything. The elves are awesome. I really, really want to play a D&D game now.
- Honestly, I’m probably willing to give this film a better review than it objectively deserves because TAURIEL LIVES! Holy crap! They didn’t fridge the kick-butt woman to provide a motivation for Cute Dwarf or Legolas! Wow! I am shocked and impressed.
- Actually, all the elf stuff is awesome. My favorite bit is when Thranduil and the wood elves show up with kale and wine for the refugees of Laketown and then Thranduil is all “F--- you, humans. We’re not here to help you; we were just in the neighborhood to get our stuff back from the dwarves. Here, have some f---ing food.”
- Thranduil’s war elk is also awesome. I was actually saddened by its death (since that was a surprise; I knew what dwarves were going to die, after all).
- “Oh, hey son! Sorry I cock-blocked you with the hawt redhead. I know this cute guy you might like…” Bwah-ha-ha-ha! And a thousand 'ships are launched (well, re-launched since people have been 'shipping Legolas and Aragorn since the first set of films).
- Seriously, is this Legolas' story or Bilbo's? (I like Legolas better, so I don't care.)
- There really isn't a whole lot of hobbit stuff (which is not good) but the bits that are in there are fun. I was particularly amused to realize that hobbits dress like they live in Regency England. Who will give me Hobbit Pride and Prejudice?!
- I am not saying the gigantic bore-worms were good, but it was funny to Jackson reuse the worm designs from King Kong. I've heard that he had a bit of a breakdown while working on this one, so it gave me a chuckle to see him just cheat and self-plagiarize.
- Ass-kicking Galadriel kicks ass.
- I honestly think it makes sense that Bilbo actually fights in these films. He's a less "pure" character than Frodo anyway, and having him be an actual killer reinforces this.