After my father died, my mother and I made it a ritual to go see a movie every Christmas, and on December 25, 2001, we saw one of the best Christmas releases ever. It was of course, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings. It was a brilliant, dark, and beautiful film that instantly captured our imaginations and led us to reading the books. The following two years, I and my family were equally excited for the next two films in the series. And it was very sad when the trilogy came to a close, but what a great time it was. Now, fourteen years later, we have the final release of the Hobbit trilogy. I happened to be home for the holidays and for the sake of tradition to both our Christmas ritual and obligation to this series, we went to go see the final chapter.
One of my biggest gripes is that this is seemingly based more on the Lego video game series which the films spawned and less on the source material. If you make a drinking game out of every time they knock something over to build a barricade or a bridge you’ll end up in the hospital. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies spends a couple hours almost diving/going deep into self-parody with overwrought acting and speeches in between some really awesome battle sequences. The book was a children’s story that could have easily been done in two movies at best. There is no need for this to be a seven hour story, and goes to show what a bloated mess this series has been. It says a lot that a series me and my family loved going to see has become something to groan at, but that’s how long in the tooth it’s become.
But that isn’t to say it’s terrible. Metal heads will love Thorin, the leader of the Dwarves who looks like he should be heading up an industrial band. His arch is one of the best of the film and you’ll find yourself rooting for the little dude by the end of the film. There are some really spectacular action sequences in this film and you will not be bored. As long as the movie is, I never checked my watch. It went by rather quickly truth be told. And as always, the set designs and costumes are epic as you’d expect in a film about five armies warring.
But on the flip side:
Legolas makes another appearance in a story he isn’t featured in just because he’s Legolas. Then there is the elf chick played by Evangeline Lilly who is there because reasons. Christopher Lee returns as Saruman (who also isn’t featured in the book), but we won’t get mad at this because they have him kick the crap out of some ring wraiths and if you want to have a scene like that and have it be believable you need the Lord of Darkness to be the one doing it.
This is a great big beautiful mess of a film that shows how great nostalgia can be, as well as the pitfalls in it’s overindulgence. The Hobbit does not need to be nearly as dark and heavy as the Lord of the Rings because they are separate stories for different audiences. The brooding nature in quite a few of the moments in this film are out of place and feel forced, much like putting a square peg through a round hole. But with all the complaints about the Goblin King in the first film (which fit, because this should be a children’s film), I understand why Jackson may have felt the need to make it more thematically similar to the LOTR movie world.
Like the other two in the Hobbit trilogy, It’s a great time at the movies that you’ll be hard pressed to remember anything about a few days later.
I wish Peter Jackson and his special effects company WETA would end up doing a Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain movie next. Yes, I’m a geek, but it would be amazing. Blood Omen is essentially a horror version of Lord of the Rings and with a strong anti-hero vampire trying to come to grips with a cruel trick fate has played on him, as well as becoming a magnificent bastard to out maneuver them. There is only one person who could get this right and it is Peter Jackson. Watch the intro to the original game and tell me I am wrong.