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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

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And with this, Peter Jackson finally wraps up The Hobbit. Thank goodness.

What happens in this movie? Fighting. Thorin suffering from “dragon-sickness.” Bilbo sneaking around a bit. Legolas being unbelievable (even if he does run out of arrows for once). Tauriel being… not much use, actually.

The Good

  • Martin Freeman as Bilbo. He has just the right “aura” for the character. It’s just a pity he didn’t get to do more.
  • Peter Jackson knows how to direct battle sequences. It was easy to follow the different segments of the battle; I never felt too confused by the action or the editing.

That really is all the good I can think of… What follows next is a chunk of ranting:

The Bad

  • Dol Guldur. Disliked the whole battling-Ringwraiths-and-Sauron bit intensely.
    • What did they do to Galadriel in the Dol Guldur sequence? I never liked the glowing green witch look they gave her when she gave the “all will love me and despair” speech to Frodo in LOTR and I dislike it just as much here. And what’s with her using the light of Earendil’s star to drive Sauron away? That one seemed like a blatant (and pointless) attempt to link The Hobbit more closely to LOTR.
    • It also bothered me that the Elven Rings of Power were worn openly (and used?) by Galadriel and Elrond. I don’t remember if Gandalf was wearing Narya or not but I certainly saw the other two and it was irksome as the three Rings of Power were supposed to be hidden from Sauron…
    • They should’ve just set fire to Dol Guldur. Aren’t Nazgul afraid of fire? Remember Aragorn brandishing a flaming torch in their faces at Weathertop?
    • As I recall, the fact that the Nazgul were still around in LOTR seemed to surprise a good many of the knowledgeable characters (i.e. the Elves), but if Galadriel, Elrond, Saruman and Gandalf all came face to face with them in the events of The Hobbit, why would they be at all surprised? You’d think that by the time LOTR happens they would’ve been more wary than they were, knowing full well that the Nine – and Sauron – were still active, and actively gathering forces.
  • Tauriel and Legolas were superfluous and did not contribute anything to the story.
    • The Tauriel/Kili romance was never one of my favourite things about the movies. (And whatever it was Kili called her, it sounded like an Elvish word – something like “amralime”? It was definitely more Elven-sounding than Dwarvish. Like the names Ancalimë, Serindë and Finwë.) The general sappiness of their lines and scenes did not make them any more endearing.
    • I suppose it makes Legolas seem more heroic and noble because he’s willing to do just about anything for Tauriel even though he knows she’s in love with Kili. *shrugs*
  • This: “Go to the North. There is a member of the Dunedain you should meet and stay with. His father was a good man, I have hope he will be a great one. […] He is known as Strider. His true name, you must discover for yourself.”
    • The Lord of the Rings begins with Bilbo’s 111st birthday party. Bilbo was supposed to be about 50 in The Hobbit. That means there were about 60 years between The Hobbit and LOTR. How old does Peter Jackson think Aragorn was in LOTR?? If you go by the books, at the time of The Hobbit, Aragorn Elessar the Heir of Isildur, sometimes known as Strider, was all of ten years old, living in Rivendell under Elrond’s care and going by the name Estel. Aragorn comes from a line of long-lived people, and he did live to be about 210 years old, but he wasn’t 100 years old already when he set off with the Fellowship!
    • As it stands, Legolas just dashing off like that at the end of The Hobbit makes no sense. If he wasn’t in Mirkwood when Gollum escaped from them, why would he have been sent to Rivendell? What, he just felt like dropping in to see Elrond? I don’t comprehend his reasoning for not wanting to go back. “I cannot go back,” he says. But why? He never explains it! (Anna added that his lady love is at that moment suffering heartbreak – is he not then in a position to be a comfort and to maybe earn her love in return? But he just walks away??) This brings me to my next point.
  • When Legolas is about to walk away, Thranduil says, “Your mother loved you.” Uhhhhhhh, what? At which point in the story did Legolas have any particular issues about his mother’s memory? It was never suggested that he suffered from lack of his mother’s love or anything. The first time his mother is mentioned at all is when he’s spying on Gundabad with Tauriel. And all he says there is that she was killed in Gundabad. (Hmm, were they trying to emulate Celebrían’s story somehow?) It felt too random and sudden.
    • All the talk about Legolas’ mother dying at Gundabad and whatnot completely failed to garner any sympathy from me. It felt so contrived. The whole Gundabad sequence was plainly an excuse to give Legolas and Tauriel something more to do. You know what may have been much more interesting? Have his mother be an actual walking, talking character in the movie. Ditch Tauriel. Have his mother there, alive, and with Thranduil – a la Celeborn and Galadriel. Then when Thranduil gets all uppity, have Mrs Thranduil be the wise one who keeps him in line. And if you must have tragedy, then have her die protecting the Dwarves or some such thing and that would at least further fuel Legolas’ dislike of Dwarves, which then sets him up for LOTR (as though centuries-long dislike between Elves and Dwarves and their natural opposition of character wasn’t enough).
  • A little too much time spent on Thorin’s mental state. I don’t really like how they took “dragon-sickness” literally and made it a consuming, almost hallucinatory and paranoiac state of mind. Wasn’t it just a metaphor for greed? I liked the simplicity of that in the book.
  • What happened to the Arkenstone? Did Bard just keep it for all time? In the book, we know what happens to it. We don’t ever find out here – it’s like everyone just forgot about it.

And the Random

  • There was this one shot somewhere after Bard gets the survivors from Laketown to safety… A really gratuitous shot of a random Asian woman. I wanted to laugh outright at that. See, this is what happens when you try too hard to impose modern sensibilities on mythic stories. It was just so obvious: “Look! We have non-white characters in this movie!” I think something similar happened in Desolation of Smaug too – very purposeful, obvious shots of people in the crowd in Laketown who are not Caucasian. I felt those shots just pull you out of the story all of a sudden and into the “real world”. I get it – you want to be inclusive and modern and diverse. That’s great. But you don’t have to focus on your “affirmative action” choices like that, do you?
    (What happened to any regard for the source material? Sometimes – too often – people forget that Tolkien constructed Middle-earth and the whole history of Middle-earth – i.e. The Silmarillion – with the intention of it being a sort of mythology for England in the way that the Greeks had their myths and legends. It’s only natural that national myths and legends don’t usually include many people of varying ethnicities. Those stories were born in times when international travel was basically non-existent so the original storytellers had equally limited views of racial diversity.)
  • I find it puzzling that no other Elf can fight the way Legolas does. hahaha

I’d probably give The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 2 stars out of 5. ★★

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