Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Battle of Five Armies

I have given a lot of thought to this film and left some time between seeing it.  I saw it twice in the theatre and must say I enjoyed it more the second time because I wasn't expecting it to be good.

I'll just get the unforgivables out of the way now:

(by fed0t)

Really terrible inclusion. Gratuitous CGI and not the least bit necessary. IF they NEEDED to have the orc army appear with surprise - it could just as easily have been explained by goblin miners, or stupid troll things with hammers or ANYTHING but sandworms. Why not just use the worms to eat the dwarves and elves - or ya know- just tunnel right into the lonely mountain treasure room. The most glaring WTF moment in a movie of non-stop WTF moments.


No reason to care. Nothing to do with the story. SUPPOSED(?) to be funny - NOT at all funny. Keeps getting screen time. I feel real bad for the actors of the dwarves who had to sit in makeup 4 hours each day who literally have no lines and then this joke of character gets scene after scene. No reason for this character to exist. 


This "love story" was just shlock. An unnecessary and unwanted subplot which eats up alot of screen time but adds very little. I assume this story was meant to be tragic, but it was just so forced. Why add this plot line? - its not a theme in the Hobbit - its not part of the story they chose to tell when they chose to make the Hobbit franchise. I'm not totally against the inclusion of Tauriel - as a strong female character COULD have added something to the story, but the way she was used in the films did not add anything worthwhile.

If they needed to add a strong female character into the story why not just gender swap Kili into a lady dwarf? I mean shit, Kili already doesn't look like a dwarf anyway, it wouldn't be that much of a stretch just to make Kili a woman. Honestly a gender swap would be just as much of a departure from the book as the bizarre romance was and it would have kept the whole thing a lot more coherent and focused on the company of dwarves rather than every other goddam person in middle earth.

Ok, so more thoughts about the movie-

Smaug died way too damn fast. If they were going to kill him so quick that they might as well have just cut out the nonsense from the second movie where the dwarves tried to kill Smaug with gold. Then they would have had time to fit the burning of Laketown and the death of Smaug in the second movie.

Everyone complains that the Hobbit films shouldn't have been split into three movies since the book was so short. Those people are wrong and dumb. Three Hobbit movies makes perfect sense. Every chapter of the hobbit contains a 'set piece'. And each of those set pieces needed to have time given to it in the film. Sure the LotR books are longer, but there are a similar number of set pieces throughout. Most of the LotR books are made up of history lessons and walking and dialogue and walking and eating bread and walking. Peter Jackson had to cut out some of the set pieces he didn't have time to address- like Tom Bombadil. He couldn't really cut out most of the set pieces from the Hobbit though- the encounters with the trolls, goblins, spiders and stuff are really important to the plot AND very quickly flow from one to the next with very little transition time. So no I don't think he could have hit all the set pieces he needed to in just one or two Hobbit movies- he really did need all three.

I think also telling the fall of the Necromancer storyline was a good idea, since it does happen at the same times as the events of the Hobbit and it anchored the story of the Hobbit in the existing plot of the LotR movies. Also it is just a really interesting side story Peter Jackson could have really fleshed out. Instead of giving it the strong storyline that the Fall of the Necromancer demanded (and which he had spent so much time building up in the first two films) the final Hobbit movie just rushes through the Necromancer plot with a single scene.

Here is how the Hobbit movies SHOULD have gone:

Pretty damn good. I wouldn't really change much except to make Azog a real actor in makeup rather than the bad looking CGI they used.

Starts out ok. Gandalf should have met up with Legolas (and Tauriel too, why not?) right after leaving the Dwarves and formed a team of coolguys with Radagast and Elrond and gone to go look into the whole Necromancer situation. Flesh that story out with a bit of orc fighting or whatever- instead of the ridiculous shit going on with the orcs attacking the wood elf realm and the TERRIBLE barrel riding scene. Develop a romance between Legolas and Tauriel (if they absolutely needed to add a romance in)  and show the relationship between Gandalf and Legolas. They could have cut out the orc hunters led by Bolg- and the stupid Kili/morgul arrow thing to give the necromancer plot some more weight and screen time. And like I said earlier, the trying to kill Smaug with gold thing was dumb, they should have just had him fly out and roast lake town and get killed by Bard.

If Smaug didn't die at the end of the second movie he should have had more screen time alive in the third. Ideally I would have had three sections going on if I directed it, here is the breakdown:

1- Burning of Laketown
It takes longer, there is more suspense. Make us care more about Bard. Tauriel and the straggler dwarves aren't there, so the story really would focus on Bard and his family trying to escape. Smaug is an asshole eating and burning people and really toying with Bard. Bard's daughter is the one to bring him the black arrow (which will get it's own post probably). And Bard is just so badass that he fires the balista bolt from his longbow, instead of the bizarre using son as tripod thing we got in the movie.

2- The Fall of the Necromancer
This was the best scene in the whole film. More of it. Legolas and Tauriel and Elrond are there fighting orcs and zombies and stuff while Gandalf, Radagast, and Saruman fight wraiths. Actually Radagast should have been fighting spiders and killed like a spider queen or something. The Necromancer should have a had a wraithlike body- like the witch-king from Return of the King and they should have had to actually fight him physically and then when he is defeated he turns into the flaming eye thing.  Galadriel can still show up at the end to banish Sauron. 

3- The Battle of Five Armies
This section really should have been condensed down into the important stuff. Dain really didn't even need any lines. He should have just been an angry looking Dwarf. Although I thought the War-pig and War-goats were cool, they really should have been cut. All that shit with fighting inside the city should have been cut. The Azog on top of the tower thing was stupid and should have been cut. The battle of five armies should have been a hell of a lot closer to the book. Shorter but sweeter.

When Thorin and Co. finally charge out they should have been shown fighting more as a group, each of the company should have had a moment- cuz they are the established core characters. Fili and Kili should have just died in the melee and we shouldn't have seen much of Dain, Thranduil, or Bard at this point. Bard had his scenes at the beginning and Thraduil had his big moments in the second movie - he isn't really important at this point.

(this deserves special mention)
The fight with Azog went on far too long. It would have been more bearable if he wasn't a stupid looking CGI but it was still way too long. I actually did like the first part of the fighting on the ice showdown between Azog and Thorin. These two characters HATE each other. PJ really spent the time to build up their relationship. I liked how it became apparent that if they both kept fighting on the ice both would perish. Thorin in a moment of clarity (which is in beautiful contrast to how banana pancakes crazy he was earlier) just drops his sword and steps back off the ice, letting Azog literally drown in his own reckless hatred and die. It would have been perfect if the fight ended there- poetic even. It would have been awesome to have ended the built up antagonism of the three movies with just a calm step backwards instead of a sword through the heart video game finishing move. For some stupid reason though Azog magically jumps up through the ice and the already too long fight continues.  
I get that Thorin needed to die, but in the book he dies of his wounds later on (and Beorn has to fight through a horde of orcs to retrieve his body) - so they just should have had him step off the ice to defeat Azog. Then Thorin could meet up with Bilbo and be all like "I'm glad that's over." but then Bilbo's smile turns to a look of concern "Thorin, your side is bleeding!" and he is like "Oh shit, when did that happen?" - collapse, die. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH BETTER THAN WHAT WE GOT.

Also more Bilbo, there wasn't enough Bilbo, a lot of dumb looking trolls and sand worms but not enough of the main character.

The dialog is so terrible in this one, no character has any memorable lines- no character says anything worthwhile. Which sucks, because there are some awesome actors and there was some really nice dialogue in the LotR and even the first Hobbit movie. Gandalf's quote from An Unexpected Journey is one of my favourites all time :

It could have been/ should have been a fantastic end to the series. It is a real shame our last adventure in middle earth had to end on such a sour note.

So yeah, I thought the Battle of Five Armies was terrible, not Starwars prequels terrible- but damn close.

I could really go on and on about this but I think I have said enough for now. I will probably have another post or two on this in the near future. 

Comments and questions are welcome. 

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