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Three articles in one movie title is plenty, you better deliver on that promise of complexity and largess. Sure he does, it’s Peter Jackson, so we get exactly what’s written on the package. A Hobbit, a battle, five armies. Hang on, that would be… Orcs, dwarfs, eagles, other dwarfs, some trolls, a couple of people leftover people from Lake Town after Benedikt Cumberbatch has talked half of them (incl. Stephen Fry, unfortunately, that would have been a nice chance for witty dialogue!) and himself completely to death. Technically you should probably also count the army of wizards (three) and their minions (the bunny rabbits that are dragging that one wizard’s sledge) – maybe those rogue goblins can be discounted as mere minute-fillers in case the film would not reach the 140 minute threshold. That contractual obligation must also be the reason why they had poor Richard Armitage look grumpy for about 45 minutes in total, and even having him drown in a golden plastic bag of sorts, having Shakespearean doubts about his mission and vision, and Shakespearean giant throne rooms to pace in his newly conquered castle.

The result is the boldest example at doing something that is way over your head, but where whoever’s in charge does not care anymore, just wants to get it done.  Jackson is by now apparently completely indifferent to the question of whether the current level of cgi can deliver what he has in mind. He wants some badass wild boar as a ride for some mean Scottish dwarf? Done, that works. He needs some climbing gear for some other dwarfs – and wouldn’t a ram be fine? Yes, would be, unless it looks completely amateurishly animated and very very silly so as to detract the audience from the battle that is going on. It really is surprising that in a film of this dimension and budget there is nobody with the authority to return the animation to the computer geeks and tell them to do it again, or else no playstation after supper? If a ram won’t climb with proper gravity and power, take a bloody bat up that hill, like Legolas does!

There is plenty of silly dialogue (“If this is love, I don’t want it!”) and nonsense plot elements (why are those wizards all Harry Potter spell-able when freeing Gandalf, but only able to throw wooden sticks when it’s against the orcs???). Orloondo Blunt gets his silly slapstick cgi moment as always towards the end of a Tolkien trilogy, and as they are struggling to fill all those minutes anyway, he gets a bit more of it (can’t really remember him being around in the Hobbit book, must be my poor memory).

The last time I saw an original visual idea in these films must have been around the time the Balrog fought Gandalf, or maybe you can count the Ents strolling through an hour of part 3 of Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit has been good at providing more of the same, more orcs, more trolls and more gold. Unfortunately, less Aragon and less interest in all these guys that populate those three films. There is a scene towards the end when the whole fellowship of dwarfs that joined Bilbo on his quest was lined up, and I realised did not know anything about any of them. The film assumes that you know a bit about everybody with pointy ears or pointy hat anyway because you have seen Lord of the Rings, and does not give much of a flying goblin about anyone else. Then it provides almost an hour of mayhem, and that’s fair enough, some bits are entertaining, some are excessively simplistic (reminder: whenever an evil orc floats underneath the ice you are standing on: step aside).

And one question: was that really Ian Holm as old Bilbo? That makeup made him look like Martin Freeman’s old Auntie Evelyn or someone. A weird transition to what’s coming next…

On the bright side: it is done, we do not have to sit through more hours of doubt about why we are sitting through all these hours. Maybe Jackson can even get down to making a movie. Something black and white, maybe Swedish with subtitles, to cleanse himself from all this Hobbititosh…

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_hobbit_the_battle_of_the_five_armies/

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