Tradition! For the past two years I've watched and reviewed The Hobbit movie installments as part of my holiday break, so I knew I had to finish with the third and final part, The Battle of Five Armies.
My Unexpected Journey review (which I now realize was actually written on Facebook, not here) was a summary of my thoughts while watching the film. My Desolation of Smaug review was the same, plus a transcript of my second son's enthusiastic commentary. (You can read both here.) This year I convinced my elder son to join us by suggesting he bring a blanket to hide under, which is what he normally does at home. (For him, a security blanket isn't so much a specific baby relic as it is any random screen against scary things on TV. For the record, he's a bigger fan of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings than my other son.) At the last minute my daughter begged to come, too, effectively making it a whole family affair - not to mention earning us a few looks and comments for bringing such young children to this movie. Don't tell anyone we did a LotR marathon last New Year's.
As expected, our daughter wasn't scared, but bored, and proved something of a distraction - mostly because of how much I worried she was being a distraction. I may have missed a few things as a result. Also, aside from a few enraged outbursts from my son about neglecting to warn him who would die (I did, by the way; we read the book this year), I was the one providing most of the spoken commentary. I'm sure this was mildly irritating for my brother, but sitting next to him in the theater was another requisite of this three-year limited tradition.
So, on to the summary! It probably goes without saying, but beware of spoilers.
- Why are those kids behind us talking like this is their first time seeing the Star Wars Episode VII trailer? Haven't they watched it over and over online, like me? I'll mouth that to my wife. Wait, she's mouthing something already: What...geeks.
- And let the improbability commence! Bard can't just shoot the black arrow at Smaug; he has to shoot it with a broken bow, steadying the shot on his own son's shoulder. Am I wrong, or shouldn't that result in a pretty bad neck injury?
- We all knew Peter Jackson was going to inflate this movie a bit, and I honestly thought it would start by prolonging Smaug's death. Guess not! So long Cumberbatch. See you in a few.
- And there you are! Well, sort of. The Necromancer vs. Galadriel. I guess I was wrong to expect a full-scale siege of Dol Guldur. This is more like a mini trailer for Fellowship of the Ring, complete with Scary Blue Baritone Galadriel. Don't mess with her, man. She does evil better than you do evil.
- This "Gathering of the Clouds," bloodless siege portion seems surprisingly loyal to the book, right down to the raven messengers (speechless, of course).
- If you need to travel quickly in Middle-earth, the solution is surprisingly futuristic: wormholes!
- All right, here we go. The actual battle!
- I'm laughing more than I expected. But then, the Hobbit movies' fight scenes usually are played more for comedy than drama. Also, when did Peter Jackson become the Queen of Hearts? I can just picture him sitting there with the script and a red pen, scribbling, "Off with his head!" all over it. I bet there are more beheadings in this single movie than the entire LotR trilogy. Those things roll off like they weren't attached to begin with! Thranduil and his moose-elk win for most decapitations at once. I thought Storm Troopers won the award for most useless heavily-armored soldiers, but Orcs are giving them a run for their money. Oh well, can't wait for Beorn to arrive and toss them around!
- Is it just me, or does feckless, neckless Alfrid actually look better in drag?
- Yay, Thorin's company charges! It'll be like the battle at the gates of Mordor, but better! Only wait...Thorin and Kili and Fili are leaving? But...we know what's supposed to happen to them. How can it happen away from the battle? I guess they're just prolonging it. No worries. Jackson wouldn't deny us the memorable scene where brothers Kili and Fili die side-by-side defending their wounded king in the midst of the actual battle.
- He did.
- And despite adding Tauriel for more female presence in the films, she has wound up another damsel in distress. And...she lives? Gotta admit, I felt pretty confident she'd die with Kili, considering she's a made-up character with no mention in the LotR. Was that solely to subvert our expectations? Do she and Legolas even say goodbye?
- And Beorn gets three measly seconds?! Why even include him in these movies then?! He was supposed to retrieve Thorin and defeat Bolg, but Legolas completely stole his thunder...and everyone else's, for that matter!
- Also, for a sword-throw done right, see Azeem in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
- The camera never even cuts back to the battle! What about the other members of Thorin's company? What about the wolf riders? What about the detailed tactics outlined in the book? If you're going to expand that scene into a full movie, why not, you know, use it?
- It appears that, in an attempt to avoid the prolonged multiple endings of Return of the King, Jackson has over-corrected; this movie's ending is so abrupt, we don't even hear what happens to all these characters we've been following for three years. At least we get the auction at Bilbo's house.
- Not even Billy Boyd's end credits song "The Last Goodbye" can mollify me now. I miss "The Edge of Night" that was used in the trailer.
- What a disappointment.... I can't wait to buy the Extended Edition on Blu-ray!
And that's a wrap! It has been fun, Shire folk. Now that The Hobbit is over, bring on Star Wars Episode VII!