The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) (PG-13)
I just don't know what happened. At the close of the last "Hobbit" installment, I was really into it. Smaug was heading down on the villagers with some creepy quotes and it kind of had an episodic ending, reminiscent to "Lost". Heck yeah. I'm in.
At the opening of "The Battle of the Five Armies", we are immediately given something disgusting: a set. Shooting with his new and improved 48 frames per second, Peter "Just-Can't-Seem-To-Get-Enough-You-Greedy-Bastard" Jackson doesn't realize that the supposedly ultra-high-def way of shooting would make everything look like a set, makeup, a fake beard, etc. Particularly in wide focus shots, which is what the entire first part of the movie is composed of. Alright, settle down, we're just getting started.
Besides the visual atrocity which added onto the 3D viewing that I saw made a complete meltdown, "The Battle of the Five Armies" is so rife with mistakes and errors that it destroys whatever good "The Desolation of Smaug" did and returns us to the dismal place of "oh, great. He's ruined another book."
Maybe we should blame Fran Walsh for her contribution, or maybe Guillermo del Toro for his. Actually, no, let's blame Peter Jackson for destroying whatever good there was left in the world.
If I haven't made it clear, the movie sucks.
But why does it suck?
At the beginning of the movie (oh and minor SPOILERS ahead), Smaug is seen raining fire down on the village underneath the mountain. He's being all like "yeah, look at me, I'm a freakin' dragon" and the townspeople are immediately shuffled into caricatures: the bold, the slimy, the weak-hearted, etc. There is nary a glimpse of actual character here as the town leader (played by Stephen Fry) takes all the gold and sets off in the river, trying to escape with his wealth and his life.
Bard (Luke Evans), a human man is the hero of this short miniseries like moment in which Smaug gets it right between the scales and falls to the ground...hmm, okay that was like ten minutes of screen time. What are they going to do for the rest of it?
Oh don't worry, Peter "Just-Pulling-It-Out-Of-My-Butt" Jackson has loads of ideas and we know where he got them from *hint: it's in his name*.
We are given a couple of narratives to follow: Bard and the surviving townspeople who decide to relocate themselves to the mountain. The dwarves, who have occupied the mountain with Thorin (Richard Armitage) as their king who is selfishly obsessed with a precious gem known as "the Heart of the Mountain". In his rage and "dragon fever" (I'm not making this up) induced stupor, he bars the gates to the mountain and forbids that anyone get in...but that's not the best idea. Then there's the orcs, who are assembling a freakin' huge army to march on the rest of Middle Earth; but we're not exactly sure why or who's making this army since it doesn't really seem to have a commander besides the infamous albino orc. Lastly, there's Gandalf (Ian McKellen) who is making his discovery about the genesis of Sauron, which, while actually not bad filmmaking, doesn't really do anything to booster the original series in anyway. All we know is that Sauron is kinda-sorta back; but we don't really get any of the gritty details we wanted.
Now, this is a lot to take in and it only proves how low Peter "Let's-Make-It-Three-Hours-Long" Jackson has sunk if there are incredibly boring stretches of pithy talking. Let's make one thing clear: pithy talking worked in the original trilogy because you weren't bombarded with an orgy of disastrous special effects at every other moment. Plus the pithy talking is just kind of....um....what's the word?....Oh yeah: stupid.
Yet there are sub-plots, the dwarf-elf romance being the most obvious one and probably the one that we cared about the most, even though the dragon fever thing should have taken a higher pedestal.
Okay, got everything? Oh wait, we're missing something. What was it? Oh yeah, BILBO! With all the commotion and events that are transpiring, we kind of feel like Bilbo (Martin Freeman) gets shoved into the background and rarely does he make a front row appearance. Besides the fact that if this was really Bilbo's telling of the tale there is no way he could possibly know things when he wasn't there (Legolas and Tauriel's little orc-tracking trek for example), "The Battle of the Five Armies" just became dull.
I, and every other person who's seen the movies, have made the comparison to video games and it's no wonder. "The Battle of the Five Armies" looks like it belongs on an Xbox and not a projector.
Some of the more grievous of its sins include the posturing. Peter "Just-Making-It-Up-As-I-Go-Along" Jackson seems to be more interesting in a series of images that anything that connects them in a narrative structure. You could view "The Battle of the Five Armies" as a long extended montage of dramatic entrances and exits. The only problem is that the exits and entrances are not dramatic enough and become laughable.
Take the wonderfully bad moment when Thranduil (Lee Pace), the elf-king, makes his appearance. He does so riding on the back of a huge moose-elk thing. The phallic imagery that springs up thereafter is no match for the sheer stupidity of working the stag-like creature into the script more. Then there's the dwarf king who rides the back of a boar, but it looks more like just a pig than anything else.
Where did Bilbo go?
Oh that's right, let's make a corny and not funny ending and then make another reference to the original trilogy.
I guess what makes me the most mad is that I actually saw this debauchery and people are making a profit off of me seeing it.
Don't be me, don't see it.
The visuals alone are enough reason to stay at home. When they look bad enough that it resembles pieces of cardboard with drawings on them being thrown in front of the camera, you may have a mistake. Maybe it was just the 3D; but everything looked so poisonously bad that it almost makes you sick watching it.
The side-plots continue to baffle us with their ignorant stupidity, the most glaring mistake being the struggle between Bard and Alfrid (Ryan Gage), who make the Master of Laketown's assistant. He's a poor substitute for Grima Wormtongue, which is all he really is.
And don't give me that "but it's based off a kid's book" BS, because the amount of decapitations and eviscerations alone prove you wrong.
Am I disappointed? Yes.
Am I surprised? No
"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" is nothing short of a full-fledged disaster and I didn't bother staying for that stupid end-credit song because I was fleeing for my sanity out of the theater with only the thought of: "thank god that's over" booming in my head.
Let us all take a moment of silence for rejoicing that Peter Jackson can't hurt Bilbo anymore.
Posted by Micah Jones