The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. Just Don’t Think About It Too Much.

O.K….It’s wasn’t as bad as all that.

I was house/pet sitting over the weekend and had a chance to watch The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies on their big screen TV, so I wasn’t missing much in terms of perspective from the theater.

Now, I delayed seeing this because I knew I was going to be disapointed. I was warned how far they strayed from Tolkien’s text and that it pretty much was the medieval equivalent of a Michael Bay film (since everyone realized in film one this was taking place in a “Physics-Free Zone” and PJ & Co. feel you can never have enough CGI). And of course, that fucking Turiel/Kili thing.

Let me tell you something, when you insert a female character for what you claim is to add “female energy,” you do NOT automatically put her in a romantic relationship. That is not “female empowerment,” that’s a Mills and Boon/Harlequin romance.

Anyhoo, I had to wait until I could unhook my brain enough to watch it, and as three hours of mindless entertainment, it was fine.

However, then I thought about it and watched it again.

First of all, my biggest complaint about this entire damn series is that fact that it became Thorin’s story rather than the titular character, who quite frankly was *perfectly* cast and played.

The book is called The Hobbit, not “The Dwarf.”

Hell, even these guys admit it:

(And I will skip over the points they make here, though I give props to Legolas running out of arrows after “The Magical Quiver of Inexhaustible Arrows” became such a fan in-joke of the first trilogy.)

And they are right (and it is *very* rare these guys take sins off the count), Martin elevates every scene he is in. It something people don’t really notice on Sherlock because they are fascinated with Cumberbatch, but Martin is carrying the emotional weight of that series and he in these films as well. He was a blessing to these films every time he was onscreen and it was a crime to take so much attention away from what is Bilbo’s story.

Now Armitage, who was openly cast to be the Aragorn-ish “heartthrob,” did carry his too large-part very well. (I am glad Boynes,Walsh and Jackson actually chose a good actor when they were looking for their “Broody McHotdwarf.”) In Battle of the Five Armies, I think Armitage pitched it just right on the believable side of madness. Not so crazy that it would not be believable that the Company would still follow his orders. But obviously acting out of character, or at least his jerk tendencies had gone into overdrive. He did not become a different person, he just became the dark version of that person.

That entire cast was first rate, sadly most of them were wasted. All that extra time, and most of the dwarves get almost no character development. Why did you bother casting all these fantastic actors if you weren’t going to use them?

And the relationship between Thorin and his nephews gets NO development. Hell, the non-book reading audience does not even find out they *are* his nephews until 2/3 of the way through the second film in what is almost a throw away line. And without that development, the impact of their deaths was minimized. Fili went out like a punk just to motivate Thorin into doing something strategically stupid.

He was ‘fridged.

Kili’s death was wasted on that stupid love story.

And I will admit, Lilly did make me cry in that “If this is love I do not want it, take it from me.” scene. The only time I cried through the entire thing. But it was a story that simply should not have been there. It wasted time that should have been given to existing characters and relationships.

I kept hearing from the actors that Thorin and Bilbo develop this great friendship…that never ended up on screen.

The problem, again, was the writing (and direction).

The closer the movie stayed to the text, the better it was. “Riddles in the Dark” was fantastic. Bilbo’s face off with Smaug? Brilliant.

The further away they got, the less the story made sense.

An example of this in LOTR series is when Boynes and Walsh departed the most from the book by having Faramir drag Frodo and Sam to Osgilliath. And then he lets them go to Mordor after watching Frodo try to hand the Ring over the a Nazgul…because Sam told a story.

Uh…what?

Now in the book The Hobbit, Smaug never sees Bilbo, but assumes he is someone from Lake-town because Bilbo mentions “barrels” in their little game of wits. Smaug thinks someone from Lake-town is robbing him.

So Smaug goes and attacks Lake-town.

It makes sense.

In the film, Smaug knows it is the Dwarves. He sees them. They try to kill him (by one of the dumbest methods I have probably ever seen, seriously who really thought they were going to kill a FIRE BREATHING DRAGON by throwing a shallow pond of molten gold at it? And I will not talk about the fact that there is no way that gold melted that fast, etc. Again: Physics-Free Zone.)

So Smaug goes and attacks Lake-town.

Uh…what?

Why would he do that when the little bastards that tried to kill him and steal his gold are in his mountain?

Now, points for Dain’s introduction, freaking brilliant.

Good morning. How are we all? I have a wee proposition, if you don’t mind giving me a few moments of your time. Would you consider JUST SODDING OFF! All ye, right now!

But then, you realize he had to have a damn teleporter to get there as fast as he did.

And if you think about the battle, the Dwarves manage to swing around in front of that MASSIVE elven army. Then the Elves go over the dwarves to drive into the Orcs. And instead of, y’know, mopping up the field, they just keep plowing through to Dale?

Well, Thranduil is a prick. I guess the Elves figured they’re just dwarves after all.

And just where did the were-worms go? Back to Arrakis?

Then in that last battle on Ravenhill, what happened to Dwalin? Seriously, he couldn’t fight his way to Thorin to help?

Thorin also wins “Smartest/Dumbest Fighter in the Film” award. Smart for over-weighting Azog’s side of the ice slab and simply stepping off. Dumbest for staying within arm’s reach of him as Azog is under the ice. Seriously, who did not see that coming?

They had the fantastic cast, they had the source material. The writing was just bad because Jackson, Walsh and Boynes have gotten too big for their britches and no one says “No” to them anymore.

So now we come to what really chafes my hide:

Say what you will about Tolkien’s characterization, his story pacing; the man could write beautiful words. He was a linguist after all, and he had studied ancient legends, sometimes in their native tongue, for all his life.

From LOTR, I can recite Eowen threatening the Witch King from memory.

“Begone foul dimmerlake, Lord of Carrion, Leave the dead in peace!”

“Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey or he will not slay thee in thy turn! He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shriveled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.”

“Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may.”

“Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!”

The clear voice was like the ring of steel. “But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you if you touch him!”

Now that is one of the most eloquent, beautiful “If you touch my family I will fuck you up!” statements in all of literature.

What ended up on film? “I am no man!”

Seriously, I have to fast forward through that scene every time, and I am not the only one. It is so badly done it is just painful to watch.

And they did it yet again with Thorin’s last words.

Not *as* badly as what they did to Eowyn, but ….

BOYNES AND WALSH, WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM!?!

Those words are iconic. They are the principal theme of the book encompassed in a beautiful short speech in utterly poignant and tragic moment.

And it is made the more tragic because Thorin has watched both his nephews die defending him, almost the last family he had. His sister is still alive (I think), but his his father is dead, his brother is dead, his nephews are dead. His line is done.

As far as the film Thorin knows, he doesn’t know what happened to Kili. As far as that Thorin knows, Kili could still be alive.

But book Thorin knows it is over, and it is over because of his own avarice and hubris.

“Farewell good Thief, I go to Halls of Waiting to sit beside my fathers until the world is renewed. Since I leave now all gold and silver, and go to where it is of little worth, I wish to part from you in friendship. I would take back and words and deeds at the gate.”

“Farewell King Under the Mountain. This is a bitter adventure, if it must end so. And no mountain of gold can amend it. Yet I am glad to have shared in your perils. It is more than any Baggins deserves.”

(And you may say that Bilbo is being overly generous here, as he was in the film, but when you are with someone who is dying, you just want them to go in peace, so you say whatever is going to make them happy. Seriously, death-bed recriminations…if you have a once of humanity it does not happen.)

“No! There is more good in you, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell.”

Now, Boynes did not mess with this as badly as “I am no man” But why mess with it at all? Changing Bilbo’s I can see because he is, and Martin played him as, an “everyman” character. His lines could tone with the poetry a bit. And that was O.k..

But Thorin’s?

Why? He said the pretty much the same thing, sorta, but they changed these words for no reason.

Armitage had the chops, he could have pulled it off. Why change such beautiful, iconic words?

Unless someone thought they were a better writer than Tolkien?

So seriously, Fuck you Boynes, Walsh or whoever re-wrote that monologue *just* to put “their own stamp on it.” *Just* because they thought they were a better writer than Tolkien. Fuck you.

Though I did like the “normalcy” Gandalf brought after the battle to Bilbo by cleaning out his pipe. “Life goes on.” That was a nice little scene.

So Battle of the Five Armies is o.k….so long as you don’t think about it too hard.

Because if you think about it too hard, you realize there were six armies, not five. Men in Dale, Elves all over the place, Dwarves on the plain, the Eagles, and two armies of Orcs from two points of origin.

I just hope the Extended Edition has more Beorn kicking ass, because that entrance was so awesome.

I will also say that Ryan Gage, who plays the “weasel” Alfred in The Hobbit, is currently cutting a very fine and surprisingly complex figure of Louis the XIII in The Musketeers. Many Musketeers fans consider him to be one of the highlights of the show.

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13 thoughts on “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. Just Don’t Think About It Too Much.

  1. My feelings about the Hobbit trilogy can be summed up with “Don’t get me started.” It’s funny how Jackson has done exactly what Lucas did: made an iconic film trilogy and then tarnished his reputation and legacy with a crappy prequel trilogy. I loved the LOTR films and bought the five disc editons of each one. I watched every minute of extras, from interviews with the stunt guys to drawings of the costume design process. I was fascinated by everything. But I haven’t even bothered buying the last two Hobbit films. Not interested. I always think it’s arrogant to mess with the source material. If you don’t want to film a book as it’s written then why bother? Just write a new story. To take a classic like The Hobbit and decide to “improve” upon it sets you up for failure from the start. Tauriel was completely unncessary. Girls have been able to enjoy The Hobbit for decades despite a lack of female characters. We realise it was written in a different time. While I would normally applaud the sentiment, this was one case where the inclusion of a female character was not appropriate. You can’t just insert your own creations into the canon. You’re not making fanart, Jackson. Then they completely undermined the purpose of the character by making her a love interest. Nope, girls don’t need any more role models like that, thank you.

    As for Kili, I remember Boyens saying that Kili was supposed to be blonde like his brother but “we couldn’t do that to Aidan.” This summed up the whole problem with the films. Style over substance. I agree that Aidan Turner would look awful as a blonde so why did they hire him? He’s not a very good actor. I had a huge lady boner for him in Being Human but he was very unconvincing at times. I can only assume they cast him because he’s hot. I know they had to scramble to replace Rob Kasinsky but really, Aidan Turner was the next best guy for the role? As for the clumsy love triangle….OMFuckingG!

    Sorry, I’ll try to stop taking over your comments section. It’s just that this trilogy really pissed me off. I have a question for Obi Kip Kenobe- in the book (which I haven’t read in thirty years) didn’t the Durins all die together? Kili and Fili died defending their uncle?

    • Actually it was Rob Kazinsky was replaced by Dean O’Gorman for Fili two weeks into filming. Kazinsky had to pull out “for medical reasons.” Jackson & Co. were always open about why they replaced Stuart Townsend with Viggo Morgensen a couple weeks into filming LOTR, so I take Kazinsky at his word. Adrian was always going to be Kili.

      Note despite the fact that Thorin’s line of the Durin was called “the longbeards” and dwarven children had beards from childhood, Pretty Adrian had no beard, just sexy stubble. The entire thing was Philipa Boynes’ (note, also a red head) Mary Sue/proxy love affair with Afrian Turner.

      I’ve written outright Author insertion love affairs, but I didn’t do it to iconic pieces of literature and I bloody well don’t charge people $10.00 to read them.

      “Girls have been able to enjoy The Hobbit for decades despite a lack of female characters.”

      Exactly. My mother was the one who introduced us to Tolkien. I actually found the includsion of Turiel (and the hotness of the Durin trio) slightly insulting because it assumed that women were incapable of enjoying a good story on it’s own merits.

      Yes, in the book all three die. Thorin had fallen, mortally wounded but still alive. Fili and Kili died defending him. Beorn (who actually turned the tide) pulled Thorin out of the battle, barely alive.

      • D’oh! Of course it was Dean O’Gorman who replaced Kasinsky. I don’t know why my brain forgot that. Probably because my brain has been trying to forget everything to do with the films. Yeah, I found the whole “hot guys and token chick” thing insulting too. Women wouldn’t watch it just because they love the book, would they? Everyone knows there are no female sci fi /fantasy fans, only girls who pretend to be nerds so they can impress guys.

        So Walsh and Boynes changed the Durins’ death scene? Instead of the poignancy and tragedy of the line of Durin ending in one fell swoop we have Kili dying in Tauriel’s arms like in a bad romance novel and Fili’s death is, actually I can’t remember his death. He goes to save Thorin or something, doesn’t he? Fili was dealt with as an afterthough for the whole trilogy. If I didn’t already know that they were his nephews, I certainly wouldn’t have sensed any familial relationship from the movies. What really peeves me is the Fili was Thorin’s heir, wasn’t he? So why was he shunted to the background? Bombur got as much character development as Fili did! It is painfully obvious that Boynes was writing with her lady bits. Sheesh, I think I’ll ask Warner Brothers for a few hundred million dollars for my adaptation of Anna Karenina. Chris Evans will be playing Vronsky, Anna will be played by Sebastian Stan and instead of her committing suicide they get married and move to the country to raise ponies and kittens.

      • In the film Fili was captured and killed in front of Thorin (at a distance of about 100 yards) to keep the Dwarves from making a strategic withdrawal (Bilbo had just told them they were about to be overrun by a second orc army and Thorin had just given the order to withdraw). Fili was killed to draw Thorin into a fight while the second orc army attacked Ravenhill. Fili was, in geek parlance, “‘fridged” or “stuffed in the refrigerator;” his death used solely to give motivation for another character to do something.

        And the familial relationship between Thorin and his nephews was not developed AT ALL, so their deaths (or at least Fili’s) had no emotional impact on the audience. And the only reason the audience cares a little about Kili is that stupid love story foisted on us which gave him *some* characterization. His brother was given none. All this extra time in three films, and a fantastic cast, and there is almost no character development of any of the dwarves except Thorin and Kili. Balin is a more character because of the actor, but pretty much just exists as an exposition machine.

        It’s just bad writing. And when you look at the source material, one of the most beloved books of all time, in a pretty straightforward quest, with such a fantastic cast, they really had to go out of their way to screw that up.

      • “Chris Evans will be playing Vronsky, Anna will be played by Sebastian Stan and instead of her committing suicide they get married and move to the country to raise ponies and kittens.”

        I’d go see that.

  2. The Hobbit, what can I say…Ok, how about too much swooping, totally, and unnecessary huge, amount of orcs flood the battle field from all sides and are beaten by bunch of short angry blokes, a bunch of effete posesers, a group of homeless people and some birds.
    Got a bit bored to be honest. The token woman stuff was stupid and insulting.
    I’m still reeling from the carnage that was World War Z to trust film makers. How do they get to be so arrogant, rhetorical that, we know, some daft twat gives them planet loads of cash to play dress up.

    • The “Effete posers” comment made me think of something Bloom said about “creating Legolas” back in the LOTR:FOR extras. He spoke about how much work he put into creating elven movement and expression and voice…and then Hugo Weaving just walked out and *was* Elrond. Lee Pace suffered the same thing: His Thranduil was *so* self-conscious and overblown (more akin to what Marton Csokas did Celeborn). It was fortunate he was never in a scene with Weaving or Blanchett, because he would have just looked/sounded ridiculous.

      I mean, if he was trying to play Thranduil as a pretentious dick, he succeeded. And I guess one can blame that on the fact the Mirkwood elves were of a “lesser strain” of the Silvan elves while Thranduil and his family were more “pure”/higher status Sindarin/Grey elves. (Thranduil identified as such, but Legolas identified with his people, the Silvan elves). That could account for Thranduil’s behavior as a form of being pretentious/snobby. Thranduil is also significantly younger than Gladriel and Elrond, which means his behavior could be chalked up to “elven immaturity” in isolation.

      • Hmm, I still find it difficult to believe the elven army would get their armour dirty actually fighting. They were far too stylistic, and there were too many Orcs, waves upon waves of them, all too big, too ferocious to lose. It’s the CGI mistake that so many directors make, ‘we want big, no, we want it BIGGER!’
        The tragedy of Thorin and his nephews was diminished by the fiddling.

      • It was. Fili was ‘fridged, Kili was wasted on that stupid love story, and Thorin…..It was a mess.

        With the CGI, I think the idea is “If we throw these massive numbers of orcs at them, it will prove what great fighters they are when they prevail.” But where we actually saw the fighting in LOTR in order to be impressed (even if things with Legolas did get a bit silly at points), they kept cutting away in The Hobbit (are they werein wide shots, so it was hard to tell what was happening) so we didn’t get a sense of how good they were as warriors.

        For instance in AUJ, in the theatrical version, the only time we really saw Thorin fight he was having his ass handed to him. Striking off Azog’s arm was a lucky shot, not skill. He was losing that fight. In the Extended Edition, we actually got to see Thorin was a good fighter. Same thing with BotFA. We really did not get to see elves and dwarves and men kicking ass and so against the overwhelming numbers of Orcs, etc. it becomes unbelievable.

        And in the book even with the Eagles it was a near loss. It was actually Beorn that turned the tide. But in the film we saw him for all of a second. And we never really saw the end of the battle as we did at Helm’s Deep, Pelennor Fields or the Black Gate.

      • The ‘Spectacle is all’ and ‘style over content’ is not what was called for. But it was an ok film, not terrible, not great, but just ok.
        And I agree with Auggie, Aidan Turner is not a particularly inspiring character actor, charming and pretty yes, but he has a long way to go before I’d take him seriously.
        And I loved Being Human, even wrote a little fic for it ‘cos of my Mitchell crush.

      • I agree. It wasn’t a *bad* film, it was an enjoyable way to waste a couple hours. It just suffers by comparison to both the book and the LOTR trilogy. And it is frustrating when one can see ways it could have been made better.

  3. I enjoyed reading this, although to be fair I didn’t understand a whole lot of what you said. I read the Hobbit when I was about thirteen after an excessive amount of pressure from my family to do so, (Big Tolkien fans) My brother would possibly kill me for saying this, (he has a dragon tattoo from the original book cover) it didn’t make an impression on me. *ducks* I haven’t seen any of the hobbit films, but said brother was very cross about them.

    I’ve also tried three times to read the Lord of the Rings and ground to a halt half way through the second book. I did see the films and will never forgive Peter Jackson for the last one. Not because it was bad, because I was eight months pregnant and the cinema seat was excruciatingly uncomfortable. I almost blew a hole in my bladder waiting for it to finish and it didn’t….they kept on adding more endings, so many endings!!!!

  4. I’m not a Tolkien fan and not so knowledgeable about the ins and outs, so my entire perception of these three films comes from the films themselves. If not for Armitage, I would never have seen AUj ( on Netflix), nor finished it, once I started. So, coming from that perceptive, I agree most with your opinion that the fine actors who were dwarves were entirely wasted, I don’t think the great Bilbo/Thorin friendship came through as well as it should have, Martin Freeman was superb – just fab, and yes, we just didn’t get to kow enough about Fili and Kili It was actually frustrating how little Kili there was in the film. But I think Aidan Turner is a good actor and has a great future. I’ve been enjoying Poldark. Is it fair to count the Orcs as two Armies?” Technically, in military terms, they were, but I thought they would count as one “faction.”
    Is this something Jackson changed, because there is a chapter in the book, The Battle of the Five Armies. ( I never actually figured out the fifth army – Eagles, I guess.
    Anyway, I enjoyed this post.

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