Monday, December 22, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

You may not want to read this if you've not see the movie, though I will try not to give away anything. This is mostly my impression of the movie and the series as a whole.

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Yesterday we ventured out to see the final movie in Peter Jackson's vision of Tolien's tale, The Hobbit. The Hobbit is a prequel to Lord of the Rings, and as prequels frequently do, the movies raised a lot of questions, including the main one: if the elves and Gandalf knew 60 years prior to Lord of the Rings that Sauron had returned, why did it take so long for them to do something about it?

That question is not answered in its entirety in the theater release, so don't expect resolution. I have been buying the extended versions of The Hobbit, which includes more film footage and a story line not even included in the theatrical release, so perhaps the query will be better answered there. But I will have to wait until next fall sometime to learn it.

In my opinion, this last movie was the weakest of the six movies, which is a pity. One should not end something so wonderful as this series of movies on the lowest note. I never thought stretching The Hobbit out into three movies was a good idea because there simply wasn't enough material there. I liked Jackson's additions, as far as they went, but he either needed to veer away more from the book or simply have two movies.

Do not think I was disappointed in the movie. I was not. But  As movies go it was better than most, but I would rate it last of the six. I rank the movies (as movies) like this: The Return of the King, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Two Towers, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. They should be watched in order, though, and taken as a whole.

One of the things that bothered me was the change in CGI and computer effects. They are better in The Hobbit, of course, than they were in Lord of the Rings. The Lord of the Rings was filmed 12 years ago, and the technology has changed. That being said, I would have preferred The Hobbit to have been filmed in the older technology. I think that certain CGI characters should have looked like they did in the older films. The nine ring wraiths, for example, should have looked the same as they did in Lord of the Rings. And the Eye should have looked as it did in the first movies, except perhaps less. If the Eye was at full strength in Lord of the Rings, then it should have been weaker-looking, not stronger-looking, in The Hobbit.

These are, of course, picky little things, things that a geek like myself would notice. I doubt most of the theater-going public pay that much attention. I daresay they don't watch The Lord of the Rings movies two or three times a year, as I do.

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies was a weak movie because of lack of character development. There was precious little of it, even though the movie moved along very quickly for 2.5 hours. Aside from Thorin and Galadriel, character development was minimal. Blood, at least, was kept to a minimum even though there are a lot of deaths. There wasn't even much plot, to be honest. It was just a big battle, so it was aptly named.

This is not a stand-alone movie. Anyone who sees this movie who has never seen the others will be completely lost. They will wonder what the draw is and why people love the story as a whole.

As with books, I am not much on stories that depend on things that preceded them to make them whole. A story that depends solely upon familiarity with preceding books or movies to move it along seems to me to be poorly told.

I cried at the end of this movie as I bid farewell to these much-loved characters and this series of movies. The Lord of the Rings has touched me in a way nothing else I've watched ever has. Though the books as a whole are irritating to me because of the lack of women in the stories, as allegory and commentary on humanity and society, they are difficult to beat. And Jackson, to his credit, did add some women into the stories to help offset the total maleness of Tolkien's books.

So I bid my farewell to Gandalf and Bilbo, to Frodo and Sam. I kiss the cheeks of Galadriel, Arwen, and Eowyn. I will revisit you on the small screen in my annual forays, and I will see you all in my dreams.

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