Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

It is a strange thing to finish something that I first fell in love with when I was fourteen. Like almost every other American, I headed to the theater last Wednesday to watch The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. The only problem is that I'm now perplexed. It didn't raise a single tear. I disconnected emotionally from everyone except Bilbo, so when everyone else in the theater is sniffling and weeping, I'm sitting there stoically calm, unmoved by everything except some of Bilbo's emotional reactions.

It's sad. Really, it is because I love this story. I've loved The Hobbit since the moment I first picked up the book. It's an incredible and imaginative tale of adventure and daring-do, with a highly courageous and blunt hobbit at the head. So why didn't this final movie impress me? I suppose I could spend time pondering and rehashing and tearing down, but I won't. I'd like to think that the fans, even the diehard ones, see the flaws and don't need me to remind them. I remember my frustrations with The Two Towers, its plot deviations and insanity, so this feeling is really nothing new. And it may change the next time I see this final installment.

All I can say is that I wish Peter Jackson had just told the story the way Tolkien wrote it. I can understand Christopher Tolkien's frustrations with the movies. I truly can, and I feel sorry for him, almost wishing I could apologize to him for all the changes made to his father's story. I'm not saying The Hobbit was butchered, I promise, what I am saying is that Peter Jackson added so much of his own storyline in the last two movies that there is very little of the original plot left. Even the dialogue is different in most cases, so radically different that when Tolkien's dialogue is used, it feels out of place. That's never a good thing.

Like I said, my opinion may change with a second viewing. I might decide that I like it, I might let the emotional reactions in, I might even be able to stop rolling my eyes at Kili and Tauriel. We'll see what happens.


  1. I'm actually grateful that I wasn't emotionally separated from this film -- because that happens to me a lot, and it's always nice when it doesn't.

    This is the most faithful movie to the text in this trilogy because other than expanding on the battle sequences and wrapping up the Tauriel plot line, the story follows what happens in the book -- the angst with the dwarves, Bard taking down Smaug, Bilbo handing over the Arkenstone as a bartering chip, etc. But I do understand that it feels like "too much." I think it didn't overwhelm me this time because it has been "too much" from the beginning. I got used to the "muchness." This one did follow the book more and devoted time to character development. I liked that we got to see so much of Bard, Thranduil, and Thorin. I loved and hated seeing Thorin change -- witnessing his descent into near-madness, and then seeing him come out of it and return to the hero we fell in love with in the first film. But you know me: emotional, angst-filled arcs are my bread and butter, and there was so much of it this time ... Bard, and being heroic for his children; the devastation in Thranduil when Legolas turned his back on him ... the reconciliation between them where they cannot even meet one another's eyes ... Tauriel and Thranduil "making up" over a shared emotional emptiness inside ... Bilbo's tearful reconciliation with Thorin as he dies ... so much emotional angst. I went home totally drained. Spent. Happy.

    Hopefully, the next time you see it, you can "Let it Go" ;) and immerse yourself in all the feels. Like the last couple of films, I also think that the Extended Edition will flesh it out even more, until it become a fully-rounded story.

    Did it need three movies? No. Do I mind? No. More Thranduil is never a bad thing in my mind. ;)

    1. I will watch it again when I get the chance, maybe going to the theater on my own once the new year rolls around. It could have been the wrong day for me to see it, or it could be that I'm emotionally disconnecting from film at the moment. It's like I used up all my feelings in Teen Wolf and now they're totally run down. I don't know . . . it's crazy. Maybe I felt like he was trying to manipulate me with all these feelings that weren't in the book, and I resented it. That's possible since I'm prone to that type of push-back concerning emotional manipulation.

      But the movies are too long, definitely. However, PJ has never known the meaning of concise writing so I shouldn't expect him to start now. In that way, he and Tolkien are a lot alike. I love The Lord of the Rings, but boy is that book long. I didn't realize how verbose he was until my folks got me the three stories in one book!

    2. Next year, after all the EE's are out, we will devote a weekend to watching them -- you and me. We will criticize and enjoy and then maybe you'll have a fun experience to attach to them. :)

      I don't invest in movies emotionally all that much anymore for whatever reason, but it was nice to cry. I've been a crier of late. Tear up with little provocation. SIGH.

  2. I think it didn't overwhelm me this time because it has been "too much" from the beginning. I got used to the "muchness."

    I completely agree with Charity here.

    I was a bit emotionally disconnected from this too. I expected to leave it feeling sad and nostalgic. Instead, I'm upbeat and charged-up. I did cry in a few places, the most at Gandalf saying, "And what about very old friends?" at the end -- that brought actual tears rolling down my face, not just prickles in my nose.

    Overall, I think this movie brought everything from the first two to a very satisfying close. The story they set out to tell got told well and completely. Was the story different from Tolkien's? In some ways, yes. At the heart, no.

  3. "All I can say is that I wish Peter Jackson had just told the story the way Tolkien wrote it." Hear hear! But you're right, it's not worth going over and over. It would be pointless to imagine how great it would have been if PJ had really tried to do justice to Tolkien's original... I gave up on that possibility after the first movie, and have just enjoyed what I can out of these movies, which turned out to be a decent amount. I hope the second viewing turns out much more positively for you, Carissa!


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