Monday, December 22, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Review

Anyone else thing this title has too many the's? I mean, THE Hobbit: THE Battle... doesn't flow off my tongue very well. I think The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies would've been better. Best would've been just to keep the title The Hobbit: There and Back Again, because that's the traditional title from the book of the last part of this story. I guess they just wanted people to know what's actually going to happen in the movie. "Hey look! Remember the final battle in the book? Yeah, we're going to include that in the movie. In fact, that'll be the whole movie because we decided to split this into three movies for some weird reason, so we'll just make that the title!" I suppose There and Back Again doesn't fit quite as well with the three movie thing, so I understand the change. Although they REALLY should've just kept this to two movies and then they could've just used both of the traditional titles of An Unexpected Journey and There and Back Again. Or perhaps instead of Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies, they should've named this The Hobbit: My Name is Peter Jackson and I Went from Being a Filmmaker to a Greedy Cash Cow So I Turned this 300 Page Book Into Three Movies Because It Means I Get to Make More Money Off of It and I'm Using the B.S. Excuse of Fulfilling Tolkien's Dream to Justify Myself. You know... Part 1 and Part 2, or something like that. Because you know it's true. Don't deny it.

Moving on. As I initially told a friend of mine that I hated this final movie, I got a response back that was very disturbing to me. So disturbing that I am including his quote right here so I can clear things up with everyone. Here it is:

"Of course you did. You hated the second and this is like that and as I recall you're not a fan of the books or reading so not the middle earth fan this film was aimed for. If you disliked the first film and the second why would you like the third? They were made all at the same time in the same style after all."

I was floored by that. And just in case more of you have this idea in your mind that I am not a Middle Earth fan, let me make things very, VERY clear. I LOVE Lord of the Rings. I am a proud owner of... uhhh... The Two Towers and The Return of the King books (I don't know why I don't own The Fellowship of the Ring or The Hobbit books -- but it's my birthday coming up, so if you want a gift idea...). Those may be hard books to get through because of Tolkien's style, but I still love the books. They may be the best novels ever written in my opinion. And yes, I do love reading. I just don't do it as often as others because I'm a slow reader and so it's a huge time commitment for me. Also, the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy is my favorite trilogy of all time. Yes, it edges out Star Wars by the slightest of hairs. So to say that I am not the Middle Earth fan this film was aimed for couldn't be more wrong. If any of you have the idea in your head that I'm not a Middle Earth fan because I complained about the first two Hobbit movies, please erase that from your head right now. It's not true. I don't care if people disagree with me on things, but it bugs the crap out of me when people have my opinions all backwards. Hate my opinions if you want. But just make sure you are hating the right opinions. And I didn't even hate the first two Hobbit movies. My adjusted score for the first after further viewings is an 8.5 and my score for the second one is a 7.5. Those aren't bad scores. If you think I hated those movies, go re-read my reviews. I had a lot of good things to say about both movies in addition to my complaints.

So with that rant out of the way, thus giving you an accurate description of my thoughts of the previous Middle Earth adventures, let's dive into this "final" installment. I put final in quotations marks because I have a friend who wisely says to never believe Hollywood when they say they are done for good. They'll find a way to come back. The Silmarillion movie trilogy anyone? Anywho, the best way for me to describe this final Hobbit movie is unfocused. We spend way too much time on ridiculous things that we should've glanced over or just skipped altogether and we don't spend enough time on things that actually do matter. Thus this movie quickly turned into a huge trainwreck and it wasn't pretty. Desperation screamed loudly as I was watching. It's like Peter Jackson committed himself to the three movie shindig, but then realized that he really didn't have enough content for three movies and so this final movie was all over the place.

Let's give a few examples of things that I think show this. The first thing is Smaug. As you recall from the second movie, we end with Smaug flying towards Lake-town as he is about to scorch it. I suppose I won't spoil the cliffhanger if by chance you haven't read the book, but we really only have a couple minutes left of this storyline. And so Smaug only gets a bit of screen time before he's gone and thus you feel gypped. There's a lot of ways they could've fixed this, but as is it felt off. Next up is the Sauron scene. The first two movies build up to this pretty darn good and you think you're going to get an epic scene showing how Sauron came to be. Well you do. But it's not epic. It just comes and goes as if it were an afterthought, thus wasting every moment in the trilogy with Sauron, Saruman, and everything else related to that storyline.

What we did get was a whole heck of a lot of Legolas and Tauriel instead. There's a lot of cool things that Legolas did in the movie, but there's also a whole heck of a lot of outright laughable things he does. As in he becomes this crazy, gravity-defying, super ninja elf. I like Legolas. But after what I saw of him, he didn't need to be in this at all. And neither did his lady elf friend Tauriel that Peter Jackson just completely made up. Now I love Evangeline Lilly. LOST is my favorite TV show of all time and I'm so glad to see her getting big movie roles. But her character was just so poorly written that I got excited when an orc started beating the crap out of her because I thought it meant that they would kill her off and I wouldn't have to deal with her or the horribly awkward and poorly done love story between her on the dwarf. I mean, I thought that love story was bad in the second one. Oh my goodness. Take those awful moments and multiply it by at least ten and you have what it was in this movie. One of the worst and most painful-to-watch love stories that I have seen in a long time.

And that's just the beginning of the issues that I have. The whole movie is full of these weird, unfocused decisions. Thus it was hard for me to be entertained when I was getting increasingly frustrated at what was happening. I thought it would pick up. It didn't. After we glanced over Smaug and Sauron, the movie was pretty boring until the battle started. I guess the battle had it's entertaining moments. But it was clearly trying to be as epic as one of the Lord of the Rings battles. It wasn't. In fact, it didn't even come close to even shining a candle on Helm's Deep. And where was my epic battle music? Non-existent. In fact, the soundtrack as a whole was disappointing. It's not a terrible soundtrack by any means. It's just not memorable. In fact, there's no theme at all in this movie that I could sing back to you. Lord of the Rings I could sing on command without even thinking about. And in fact, Misty Mountains in the first Hobbit is like that as well. I even went back and listened to this soundtrack on YouTube. Nope. Didn't do it for me. In fact, I got bored of it, so I quickly turned it to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack to make me happy. On top of all this, the end of the movie felt very unresolved. I'm not going to explain why, but it puzzled me specifically because this is the shortest movie by a long shot. It's only 144 minutes. The other five movies are 178, 179, 201, 169, and 161 minutes respectively. So it's not like they didn't have time to wrap a few things up. They're waiting for the extended edition? Uhhh... I hope not. That would lame.

Was there anything good about this movie? Sure. Martin Freeman. Everything that man did and said as Bilbo was spot on. Also, I saw this movie in the high frame rate in 3D and that made it visually impressive actually. Did it completely fix the terrible CGI? Absolutely not. I still hated every time the orcs came on the screen because they were just so terribly done, it was embarrassing to watch. Is this worth seeing in 3D? No. I payed $12 to see this movie and that was a bad mistake. So save your money and just see this in 2D. It's impressive, but not worth the extra price. Also if I'm thinking of things done good in the movie, all the original actors from the Lord of the Rings movies that were in this one did a great job. And even our dwarf crew did great. So I can't complain about the acting at all.

When all is said and done, my initial fears about this trilogy ended up being what did this movie in. When I heard that Peter Jackson was doing the Hobbit, I was ecstatic. When it was announced that it was going to be two movies, I was perfectly fine with that. But when it was announced that they were going to do three movies instead of two, I became nervous. Two movies sounded completely justifiable given the content of the book. Three just sounded like a Peter Jackson cash grab. And that's what much of this trilogy was. Drawn-out, unfocused, unnecessary fluff to make three movies. Had they cut out all the crap and turned this into two really focused movies, added some epic music, and did a good CGI job, we would've had two amazing Hobbit movies and you would've seen me praising Peter Jackson once again. But alas that didn't happen and instead I'm saying that Peter Jackson failed this time around. I'll stand by scores of the first two. An Unexpected Journey gets an 8.5 from me and The Desolation of Smaug gets an 7.5. But this final chapter is just a trainwreck and this I am giving The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies a 5/10. As far as the trilogy as a whole now that we are finished? Forgettable.

P.S.- Anyone want to explain to me what the fifth army was? We had the dwarves, the elves, the Lake-town people, the orcs, and the... what? The second dwarf army? The bats? A second orc army? The army that came in at the end that I won't spoil? It really didn't seem clear to me. And I know that may be a dumb question to ask, but it will at least test who actually read this whole review.

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