Saturday, January 17, 2015

Popcorn for One - THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (with perhaps a spoiler or two)

I finally had a chance to see the film THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES yesterday.  It's sad thinking that we may not see the Middle Earth of Tolkein (and Peter Jackson) again, although there are rumors floating about.  Tolkein did write other books, less well known, about that world, so you never know.  Still taken together the three films in the trilogy do make for some excellent film-making, even if Jackson & Co. did take liberties to turn the book, which could have been adapted into two films, into a trilogy like LOTR.

Just about everyone with a desire to see the film has probably already seen it, but I'll briefly talk about it with few SPOILERS.

The film picks up with Smaug flying across to Lake-town, which we saw at the end of the last film.  Personally, I think the second film (and likely the first) could have been trimmed allowing the destruction of the town to be last scenes of the second film. This would have started this one with the survivors coming to the Lonely Mountain to confront Thorin.  That would have worked with the title of the second film as we would witness then the 'desolation of Smaug' upon the town and its people.  Just my opinion, of course although I don't seem to be the only person reviewing the movie expressing that or similar thoughts.

After we witness the fate of Smaug and the town's people attempting to recover from the destruction, we catch up on some of the other characters (elves, dwarves and orcs, among others). Gandalf learns of certain things and goes to find his former comrades while word of the death of the dragon spreads.  Eventually the armies mentioned in the title gather, sides become drawn and redrawn as other factions join in.  The later part of the film is pretty much an extended battle between these factions, moving from large scale assaults to individual fights among characters we've seen in earlier films.  I last reread the novel prior to the release of the first movie so, while I know Jackson made changes to the book, I'm not clear on some of the characters and how their fates match those in Tolkein's original.

Overall I was pretty happy with the film and Jackson's attempt to bring the novel to life.  I do want to mention that while most of the CGI and green screen work was exceptional, there were a few moments (as there were in a few of the LOTR films) where it was pretty glaring.  I saw none of the films in 3-D or IMAX, so it possible my experience was difference from yours. However, one of the scenes featuring Legolas towards the end of the movie was so obviously fake that it took me out of the movie completely.  One of those things that you could do in animation, but with live actors with a green screen just can't be believable.

The last scenes with Bilbo's goodbye to his former mates and the final scene back in the Shire are really nicely done. The last especially brings things around full circle and make you want to watch the original trilogy all over again.

Hope you liked the move as much as I did and if you haven't I hope you get the chance on the big screen.  Those battles were amazing!
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