The Hobbit – A Review Three Years in the Making

The other night, I finally got the chance to see The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, the last installation in Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic. I’ll come clean which might upset some purist fanboys – The Hobbit has never been my favorite work by Tolkien. I love stories of grand scale and epic fights against good vs. evil, where everything rests in a moment’s decision… But sometimes, it’s nice to bring that back. Sometimes, it’s nice to simply tell the tale of a small Hobbit who got way in over his head. This was always how I interpreted The Hobbit when I’ve read it, and how I’d hoped it would seem on the big screen.

Let me sum up my feelings very simply:

What. The. Fuck.

A Breakdown of the Good

Throughout the trilogy, there were some truly good moments that stand in memory – the Dwarves’ song in Bag End, the Trolls and the treasure cache, the riddles with Gollum… All of them brought back such nostalgia from the first time I read the book, it’s impossible to forget how well they were executed – in a perfect storybook manner, as if we were hearing the tale told by Bilbo himself.

This is not to mention of course Bilbo’s return to the shire – a brilliantly executed tie-in with the original Trilogy that brings you both a sense of foreboding with a sense of surreal happiness – Bilbo’s journey was done, and a new one was beginning. It’s moments like these that make this trilogy worthwhile, the small, little stories that show a small, little Hobbit seeing grand things.

A Breakdown of the Bad

Buckle in for this one – we’re in for a ride.

The Action Scenes

In all three movies, there have of course been over-the-top action scenes – we’ll quickly cover the worst ones here.

Part 1: Goblins make for a terrible army

I want you to pause for a second and watch this video. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

I get that Goblins are supposed to be stupid, but let’s give them a LITTLE credit. What’s the body count here? I’d honestly like to know, since between the sweeping cameras and ridiculous circle-killing-techniques it’s got to be within the thousands, and not a scratch on the characters. Let’s take this into account with the Trilogy – a party including some of the most skilled warriors of the time (Gandalf is even shown to be a pro Goblin Killer), get overrun by a twentieth of that number.

Part 2: Deus Ex Statue

Here’s another video for you, brought to you by Hollywood’s best screenwriters.

So, what, was their plan the entire time to melt gold into this thing and hope Smaug stared at it long enough? They’d done a huge amount of preparation in the fight beforehand by lighting all the furnaces and whatnot, but putting a fire breathing dragon, ones who like heat, in a hot wave of gold really only seems to me like it would just make him more fabulous. Plus, if he did have a hole in his scale, you just filled it with gold plates. Thanks, Thorin.

I’m not even going to mention the barrel-riding scene. Just pretend it didn’t happen.

Part 3: Just… Everything.

Buckle in – we’re going to bullet point speed.

  • Seeing Smaug wiping out the town was cool. Seeing him rant and rave like a Bond villain while being totally oblivious to the fact that the one guy who’s job it is to shoot arrows at dragons is lining up a shot was dumb.
  • Dwarves apparently have the ability to headbutt orcs with helmets, knocking them unconscious (note that the Dwarf in question had gotten rid of his helmet at the time, for some reason or another.
  • Did you know Dune worms appeared in LOTR? I totally forgot about that, but it sure was a convenient way to get another army in there.
  • Dwarves are Spartans. This is cool. Elves defeat the purpose of that Spartan wall by jumping over it and into the fray, which is not cool. Use your arrows, fellas, it’s what they’re there for.
  • “Goblin Mercenaries. Only about a hundred of them – we’ll handle it.” – One guy to another. At least they keep consistent in this trilogy, but Goblins must have really popped some serious steroids in the time between.

I have to break the bullet point roll we’ve got to make a very own Legolas-based list, as he took home the trophy for the most eye-rolling stunts since The Expendables.

  • If Legolas kicked that much ass in the original trilogy, then they should have definitely just gave him the ring and let him walk it over to Mordor.
  • He intentionally made a collapsing bridge to save his wannabe girlfriend, somehow knowing that it would bridge the gap perfectly and that he wouldn’t go flying into the chasm.
  • This was of course after he’d manipulated a wild bat beast to fly him to the highest, most appropriately placed tower to defend Thorin, which he had little to no reason to do in the first place.
  • He also used the ol’ knife-in-the-skull trick to steer an orc perfectly.
  • Oh, and he ran up a collapsing building (physics!) like it was Super Mario Brothers…
  • And wait a minute, wasn’t he a total dick in the last movie? He was? Well that’s one hell of a character shift.

The Filler

Oh God, the filler.

The White Council Subplot

Yes, this is something that went on during the same time as The Hobbit. In short, the White Council (you know, all the old guys and the elves) realized that “The Necromancer” hiding out near Mirkwood was Sauron, attempting to regain power. They quickly put an end to that shit, except for Saruman who as we all know loves theatrics.

The Sauron Subplot

As far as I remember, Sauron really didn’t have much to do with The Battle of Five Armies, and he certainly didn’t rally the orcs to fight for a strategic landpoint. This was a pretty quick done deal for the Council – unable to kill him (since he’s a powerful spirit and the ring and all), they banished him to Mordor. Cool, but NONE OF IT HAD TO BE IN THE MOVIE.

Azog and his Quest for Vengeance

Didn’t really happen in the book, so that was a pretty big time pad.

Legolas

Really? I’m not even going to elaborate on this one. You’re an awesome dude, Orlando Bloom (especially if you did actually punch Justin Bieber, then I’m sending you all my monies), but you should have turned his one down.

The Dialogue

Cut down on the talking, Jackson, and GET TO IT ALREADY. I know there’s a lot of talking in movies, and there’s a lot to be said in Bilbo’s adventure, but when 80% of the dialogue could be cut out and we’d still be on the same page as the characters, DO IT.

NOW you have to include everything

So they included Beorn as a nice hefty arc in this one (which is good and fine), but completely skipped over the much-more-interesting Tom Bombadil and Scouring of the Shire from the real trilogy. Let’s go back and make those scenes, Jackson, make a super-duper-cut.

tl;dr

That’s a lot of nerd rage up there, I know. I’m sure I lost a lot of you, and I’m sure I’ve upset some other fanboys that can prove me wrong on something or another, but it’s impossible to argue that this, the shortest of Tolkien’s four key books, deserved three movies.

All I can hope for is that somewhere out there is a fan with a lot of time and dedication – one who really loves the series. This fan, whoever they may be, could forge these three drawn-out movies into one, truly watchable epic… And then, I can say I enjoyed The Hobbit. As of now, I really just want my 3D/IMAX money back.

 

 

P.S. – 48 FPS sucks. Knock it off.

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