Friday, January 2, 2015

"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies"

The short review of the latest instalment in the Hobbit multipart film is: it was a top-notch disappointing film.

It is just that there was so much potential in the story (that does remain on screen), and it was so well made (easily better than 90% of stuff coming out these day)… but it could have been great.

At this point in the trilogy it makes no sense to review the instalment alone, because the movie does not stand on its own. It is a part of a larger story and has to be talked about as that story. Alone it would just be lacking. (Whereas the first part did stand alone and also carried an unrealized hope for what was to come. That is also why “Fellowship” was the best part of the earlier trilogy and “Unexpected Journey” is the best of this set.)

The literary ideas here are great. The greed, the warmongering, the pacifist messages, and the sacrifice Bilbo has to make to see right done—all are really good. Some of the dragon sickness stuff goes too far and is played out several times over, though. This is the first place where a good fifteen minutes of film could be trimmed with no major loss. (The scene in the gold room is painful.)

However, all of the additions are unnecessary. And at a nine hour running length, unnecessary translates to wrong. Even the very cool scene with Galadriel saving Gandalf. That is not a part of this story. It is a perfect example of fan service on the part of a director who is a fan. It is solely there to set up the previous films.

Forget about the love story fabricated for Kili the dwarf. You can say all you want that you needed more female characters, or that it overcomes some sort of latent racism in the source material, or that it builds the character up enough for us to care about him. It is not this story nor this fantasy world.

(Incidentally, what would be more racist would be to have the three main dwarves—the ones we are supposed to remember and root for most—be the only ones without funny noses. Basically to have them indistinguishable from humans. Yeah, that’s what they did.)

I did love a lot of stuff in this film. And I do love the story. That is why it sounds like I am so harsh in these thoughts. I think in the nearly nine hour trilogy there is a well edited three and a half hour masterpiece. Unfortunately, we will probably never see it.


1 comment:

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