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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies movie review: there and back again… at last

The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies yellow light

I fear that Peter Jackson has been suffering from a similar affliction to the dwarf king’s “dragon sickness”: a compulsive lust for epicness.
I’m “biast” (pro): big Tolkien geek…

I’m “biast” (con): …but Jackson’s second trilogy has tried my fandom

I have read the source material many times (and I love it)

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

The best thing about — finally! — reaching the third and last chapter of Peter Jackson’s ponderously epic eight-hour adaptation of the rather brief and chipper novel The Hobbit is that we may be assured that once the DVD hits next year, some intrepid fan is going to whittle the whole thing down into a breezy 105-minute phantom edit… like it should have been in the first place.

I am really looking forward to that.

A terrible affliction, er, afflicts the dwarf king Thorin here. Chasing off the dragon Smaug and reclaiming the accumulated treasures of his people — as had happened by the end of the second film — isn’t enough for Thorin (Richard Armitage: The Crucible, Into the Storm). Because he is in the grips of “dragon sickness,” the same unshakeable compulsion that kept the dreadful reptile glued to the gold in the first place. It’s a lust for riches in general, and in Thorin’s case, for one particular gem, the Arkenstone, also known as The King’s Jewel.

That no one here seems to think that name is snicker-worthy is a symptom of how solemn and humorless the flick is, which is a shame, because J.R.R. Tolkien’s book is full of hearty humor. But never mind. The thing is… I now realize that Peter Jackson has been suffering from a similar compulsion for the past decade: “blockbuster sickness.” I don’t know how else to account for what he did to The Hobbit. It’s kind of like — to switch genres — what Bill Murray did in Groundhog Day, how after that one glorious perfect day with Andie MacDowell, he tried to force that same relaxed romance in future reiterations of that day. And of course that’s impossible. You can’t capture lightning in a bottle twice. Doing it once is — and should be — magic enough.

Jackson has failed to do for The Hobbit what he did for The Lord of the Rings, which isn’t at all surprising because epicness was built into the latter, and was never in the former. All the problems of Jackson’s Hobbits 1 and 2 remain here: everything feels forced and — bizarrely but unsurprisingly — anticlimactic. It feels like nothing is at stake, because not much is. The five armies here — humans, elves, dwarfs, orcs, and eagles — are fighting over the treasure in the mountain. That’s it. There is no resonance for those of us watching, and there’s no reason why there couldn’t have been: the world is being ruined by a lust for money and the power that money represents, and yet instead of this Hobbit feeling in any way meaningful, it feels like we’re watching a videogame.

When Jackson decided to title his third installment The Battle of the Five Armies, he was being quite literal. The dragon holocaust of Lake Town, in which Smaug (the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch: Penguins of Madagascar, The Imitation Game) is dispatched by Bard the bowman (Luke Evans: Dracula Untold, Fast & Furious 6), is over so quickly that it almost feels like it should have been part of the previous film. So we’re left with two hours of battle. It’s not all fighting, of course: there’s a lot of not-really-talking and thwarted diplomacy between Thorin and Bard, who has come for Lake Town’s share of the treasure so that they can rebuild, but what with the dragon sickness and all, Thorin is disinclined to make good on his promise. And the elf king Thranduil (Lee Pace: Guardians of the Galaxy, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2) shows up, and for the life of me I cannot remember why. Something to do with not letting the mountain fall into orc hands, maybe? I’m sure it’s mentioned, but it hardly matters. Army of pretty elven warriors in pretty capes! What is important, in this version of The Hobbit, is the 45-minute battle of the five armies. Which is awesome for CGI videogame values of awesome, I suppose. But it’s not terribly interesting.

And where is the titular halfling in all this? Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman: The World’s End, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!) has almost nothing to do here. He has served his purpose as the company’s burglar, and the one essential chore left to him at this late stage is dispatched in mere moments. Some more time might have been given over to the moral quandary on Bilbo’s part that this chore entails, and to how it connects with Thorin’s dragon sickness — which comes on so quickly that it makes him seem like a cartoon villain — but then that battle might have needed to be cut to a mere 35 minutes, and that simply wouldn’t have done, I suppose.

Peter Jackson has made it really tough to be a fan with his Hobbit movies. I like visiting Middle-earth! Thranduil riding a mighty elk like it’s the Best Steed Ever is pretty cool. Martin Freeman is still the most hobbity hobbit possible. Hot guys cosplaying! But I’m sad that the most we can concede that Jackson has done here is to make a pale imitation of his own epic trilogy. Maybe I’ll go watch that again now.

I saw a 2D 24fps presentation of the film

See also:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey review
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug review

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies for its representation of girls and women.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
US/Can release: Dec 17 2014
UK/Ire release: Dec 12 2014

MPAA: rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
BBFC: rated 12A (moderate threat, frequent violence)

viewed in 2D
viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • Beowulf

    Hmmm…. Cut it to 105 minutes? Will you trade a 55 minute INTERSTELLAR cut for that?

  • Peterrr

    No, because every single minute of INTERSTELLAR (except for the Matt Damon part perhaps..) was worth watching. It would be a pity to cut it.

  • FSLB

    I’m gonna loyally watch this with the family over Christmas but as you’ve pointed out over the past few years, it’s become pretty obvious that there was no compelling reason other than ‘dragon sickness’ on the part of studio bean counters to bloat the Hobbit up into a ginormous epic. While these films aren’t as horrible as the Star Wars prequels, they’re not remotely on the same level as the LOTR films and I dearly wish Jackson had decided to make a fast and fun single movie adventure rather than this endless table setting for the LOTR movies. Like you, I can kinda see why he wants to be as completist as possible and jam everything from the mythos into these movies but it comes at the cost of caring or being entertained by anything within them, outside of a few great scenes here and there.

  • Pfarmaco

    Maryann, the five armies did not include the eagles. They were men, elves, dwarves, goblins (which are virtually interchangeable with orcs in Tolkien’s middle earth) and wargs.

  • There are goblins here, too. And also eagles. But no wargs, except as mounts for orcs. And if we count them, then we have to count the hogs some of the dwarves are riding.

    So six? seven? eight? armies. Tolkien miscounted.

  • Apa

    Well if you read the book it would be pretty obvious that two films would have been best, not one book. 300 pages doesn’t mean it should’ve been one movie. In the book, the battle literally starts and ends in around 6 pages and gandalf’s absence is not explained well. So many important things happen in a 300 page book and you really think they can fit trolls, smaug, bot5a, eagles, goblins, etc etc. into a 105 minute movie? It makes me seriously doubt you have actually read the book when you suggest something like that. A 105 minutes hobbit film would have been a bigger disaster than 3 films. If these 3 films are what you would call a disaster.

  • Gandalf’s absences were supposed to be mysterious. Here: all the mystery is gone. That’s not an improvement.

    Yes, I’m lying about having read the book so many times. You caught me.

  • Pfarmaco

    Haha ok you got me. :-) However, Tolkien had identified them as the five mentioned in my comment. You’re certainly entitled to your interpretation, though!


  • Jim Mann

    But they are mysterious only in that the book was written as a children’s book, when Tolkien had no idea that he would write the Lord of the Rings, and for an audience that had that obviously thus also had no idea that what happened in The Hobbit had any deeper, and darker, implications. But a Hobbit movie made after the LoTR movies can’t be made as if we don’t know what happens later — including knowing some of what Gandalf was doing when he disappeared.

  • I would have sworn that the eagles were one of the armies. But maybe because it’s such a big deal when they show up in the book. Here, not so much.

  • Bluejay

    Each of the Lord of the Rings books is longer and more event-packed than The Hobbit, and Peter Jackson managed to give them each one movie.

    And Jackson doesn’t take three films to tell the story that’s in The Hobbit. He takes three films to show off the stuff that HE made up, that ISN’T in The Hobbit. (Did Radagast really need all that screen time? Did there really need to be an extended orc attack in the barrel scene? Did you really need an elf/dwarf romance? Did Legolas need to be there at all?) The story of The Hobbit doesn’t need three films to tell, any way you cut it.

  • Beowulf

    Sorry, I missed the directive.

  • Apa

    I never said it needed three films. I’m saying 2 films would have been best if they wanted to make Smaug, the BOT5A, the deaths, etc. feel like more than just random events that happen and go with little impact.

  • Jan_Willem

    I have always thought it would’ve been perfectly possible to make a fairly lighthearted Hobbit movie (or perhaps two) that stuck to Bilbo’s relatively naive point of view and merely hinted at darker things to come in The Lord of the Rings around the edges. It would have been the best of both worlds: subtle winks to those already in the know, while the new film could also serve as an introduction to Jackson’s trilogy for newcomers, just like the Hobbit book does for Tolkien’s. Dragon sickness be damned.

  • Bluejay

    “There was always a sense that one day, long after all this is over, if it’s going to exist in the world it will be as this six film series — that’s how future generations are going to think of them. It starts with The Unexpected Journey and ends with Return of the King.” — Peter Jackson


    If Jackson is creating these movies for posterity, and intends the Hobbit trilogy to be the first thing that future generations of audiences will see, then he’s hobbling these movies with the weight of all the winking and foreshadowing and portentousness that’s intended to appeal only to the current audience that already knows how it all ends.

    Basically I agree with Jan Willem’s comment above.

  • Bluejay

    Two films would have been better than three, but one film isn’t impossible. You’d need to change and drop some things to make it work on film (as with all film adaptations), but novels that run hundreds of pages are successfully adapted into single films all the time, from Gone with the Wind to The Godfather and so on. It’s only recently that popular books have been split up into two or more films to bring in more money.

  • Pfarmaco

    Del Toro wanted to do just that. His vision was centered around the innocence of the time only shadowed by evil on the edges, as you suggest, and war towards the end leading into ‘Fellowship.’

  • Pfarmaco

    I agree with you on the extra stuff like Kili/Tauriel, the idea of Azog in general (could’ve been handled by just using Bolg who was actually IN ‘The Hobbit’), orcs openly tracking through Mirkwood (no way that could’ve happened) and the barrell scene. However, I thought the parallel story line of incorporating the appendices to tell how the white council drove the necromancer from Mirkwood was appropriate. And why not throw Legolas in there – in theory, he would’ve been hanging around with Thranduil, anyway. 2 films. Done. :-)

  • Hank Graham

    My favorite bit of fan information about this was that reportedly, Tolkien himself started an attempt at re-writing “The Hobbit,” to make it match better the sweep and feeling of “Lord of the Rings.” And he abandoned the attempt, deciding that the two were fundamentally different, and he should just ignore the differences.

    But Jackson has a bit of a history at ignoring the failures of the past. Consider the spider pit sequence from “King Kong.”

    It was shot for the original, and then cut out by the producer, Merian Cooper. Willis O’Brien considered it his best work on the film. Cooper conceded that the effects work was very good, but wrote that, “…the story comes to a complete stop in this sequence, and the picture is better without it.”

    But Jackson did the spider pit sequence in his version of “King Kong.” And you know what? While it was going on, the whole story shuddered to a stop while it did.

    As I’ve written before, I’m waiting for the phantom edit. Although I will miss Evangeline Lily, who was pretty awesome.

  • Danielm80

    If you asked ten different directors to adapt The Hobbit, you’d get ten different films. Genndy Tartakovsky’s Hobbit would be very different from Christopher Nolan’s adaptation. Some directors would make a 90-minute version, some directors would make a nine-hour version, and both could be fantastic movies, if they’re done well.

    The problem is that some producers seem to be saying, “If you’re going to make a fantasy or science-fiction film, it has to be a nine-hour epic, because that’s what makes money at the box office.” That doesn’t make any more sense than saying, “No film should be longer than two hours, because audiences won’t sit still longer than that.” But producers keep trying to reduce movies to a formula, which means that we get one formulaic movie after another. Occasionally that works; MaryAnn really liked the newest Hunger Games movie. But in this case, apparently, the formula didn’t fit the story.

  • I love Lily, but Tauriel is an embarrassment. Not because of the actor, but because she is so clearly shoehorned in, and then ends up with almost nothing to do but be argued over by two men. Ugh.

  • I hope in 20 years, Del Toro makes his *Hobbit.*

  • But if the film had stuck to Bilbo’s perspective, Gandalf would still be mysterious!

  • LaSargenta

    I want a Hobbit by Werner Herzog. Or by Billy Wilder. both would be amusing.

  • Ryndan Riley

    Idk, re watching the cinematic versions of lotr and then re watching the hobbit one and two does show that there is a lot of boring time wasted. One three hour movie that looked less ridiculous and used humor in better places would have been perfect.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I really want to see the Busby Berkeley version of The Hobbit — even if Berkeley has to be channeled through Mel Brooks or Steven Spielberg.

  • LaSargenta


    I LOVE the idea of Hobbit, The Musical! By Brooks & Berkeley!
    Coming Soon! All Singing! All Dancing!

  • Renee Parkman

    Me tooooo!!! Too bad he won’t be making it with Armitage though. IMO, Armitage is the reason Jackson deviated from Bilbo’s point of view.

  • Probably. He tried to make Thorin this trilogy’s Aragorn, but Thorin simply doesn’t have the gravitas for it. And the films didn’t give him room to earn it, in spite of the overall length and added material. This isn’t Armitage’s fault. He just didn’t have a lot of meaty material to work with.

  • Beowulf

    Since he never made it, its easy to speculate what a masterpiece the creator of giant human-operated machines that battle monsters could have filmed.

  • Pfarmaco

    Please see a few of the numerous interviews and articles published with Del Toro explaining his vision:




    “Del Toro said that he interpreted The Hobbit as being set in a “world that is slightly more golden at the beginning, a very innocent environment” and the film would need to “[take] you from a time of more purity to a darker reality throughout the film, but [in a manner] in the spirit of the book”. He perceived the main themes as loss of innocence, which he likened to the experience of England after World War I, and greed, which he said Smaug and Thorin Oakenshield represent. Bilbo Baggins reaffirms his personal morality during the story’s third act as he encounters Smaug and the Dwarves’ greed. He added, “The humble, sort of a sturdy moral fibre that Bilbo has very much represents the idea that Tolkien had about the little English man, the average English man”, and the relationship between Bilbo and Thorin would be the heart of
    the film. The Elves will also be less solemn.”

    So based on following this whole process since 2008, I’d like to say that I’m not simply speculating on Del Toro’s proposed vision.

    Maybe watch something other than Pacific Rim to get a take on Del Toro’s style? Pan’s Labrynth may help you there.

  • Huh?

    And yet this review got a “fresh” tomato on rotten tomatoes? Anything to help Peter Jackson look good. Sheesh…

  • So uncivilized

    Fslb, just had to throw in that tiresome I-hate-the-prequels, did you? I guess your status quo is met for the day.

  • CB

    While I’ll readily agree that any of those versions *could* be fantastic, I think that regardless of what director is at the helm the 90-minute version has a much better chance of succeding than the 9-hour version. Most forms of storytelling are best when everything that can be removed has been, but in film in particular where so much can be said in so little screentime and pacing is so important, there has to be a *reason* to drag the story out over so many hours.

    Lord of the Rings had a reason. But I saw in the first Hobbit movie that Jackson had the same problem he had with King Kong: Epic for Epicness Sake. But Epicness must be earned, and when instead it is forced it isn’t epic at all, but rather plodding and boring.

    So someday someone might make the 9-hour version of the Hobbit that really works and justifies its runtime. But I think it’s far more likely that a director that is going to go on to make a Hobbit movie that works is going to look at the material and say that’s going to be a single 2-hour movie tops.

    I don’t know how much of the padding was down to the producers — I’m sure they wanted a trilogy because $ — but I don’t think Jackson fought them over it as it seems to be his natural tendency. Even LotR sometimes went over its Earned Epicness Quota imo, but overall that worked. The Hobbit didn’t.

  • Why on Earth would I care if Peter Jackson looks good or not?

    I care about my readers. Neither “Fresh” nor “Rotten” is suitable for this review, but “Fresh” more closely communicates to my readers my reaction to this film. RT offers only two options. If you have a problem with that, you should take it up with them.

  • Pfarmaco

    Well put, MaryAnn!

  • David

    “ome intrepid fan is going to whittle the whole thing down into a breezy 105-minute phantom edit… like it should have been in the first place.”

    I’m still waiting for the two-hour cut of Kill Bill.

  • David

    I want to see a Hobbit movie directed by Michael Bay.

  • Bluejay

    I want to see THIS Hobbit movie:


  • Beorn counts as an army all by himself, so that’s nine armies now.

  • everyone should make their own Hobbit:
    Wes Anderson’s The Ringbearer’s Original Journey of Symmetric Patterns
    Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Hobbit
    Neil Marshall’s Straight-forward-yet-epic-scale Action Hobbit
    Bong Joon-Ho’s Hobbitpiercer

  • truesilver9

    Yet another thing that Peter Jackson messed up on. The wargs were supposed to be an intelligent, independant race which merely ALLOWED the goblins to ride them in some cases when their interests aligned. It’s like the eagles, Jackson turned a proud race into nothing more than glorified mounts. Therefore, the wargs were an army all by themselves, regardless of the orcs they brought with them. The eagles didn’t arrive until the fight was almost over, so they weren’t included in the count. Also, the other races did not have hog mounts, which I think are cool but are still totally a Jackson creation.

  • I don’t recall any significant mention of warg culture in the books. Maybe it was mentioned in passing… but that only means it’s a thing that is easily excised in a film adaptation. How would having intelligent, independent wargs have improved these films?

  • Beowulf

    A vision is not a film.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Ooo! I wanna see that one too.

    I love how it references the original British version in its theme rather than the more recent American version. Plus, casting Martin Freeman in a parody of the TV series that first made him famous deserves some recognition.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Of course, if you all really want a more concise version of this story, there is always this:


  • Beowulf

    The little woman and I (not my wife, just a female dwarf who goes to the movies with me) saw the film today and were wowed by the brilliant ending of the trilogy. The acting was top-notch, the scenery magnificent, and the emotional touchstones were…well, emotional. A satisfying conclusion to an epic adventure. (By the way, did anyone else notice that the “ice sled” sequence seen in the first teaser wasn’t in the theatrical cut of the film?)

  • Bluejay

    Apparently Evangeline Lily wasn’t happy about the love triangle either:


  • Danielm80

    I was amused by this Access Hollywood interview:


    The follow-up question could have been:

    “Do you think that the addition of a love story says something about the perception of women in Hollywood movies?”


    “As a Tolkien fan, do you think the lack of fidelity to the book ended up damaging the movie?”


    “Is it frustrating to put so much effort into a performance and have it completely altered at the last minute?”

    Instead, the interviewer asked, in essence: Which of the two guys was hotter? And then she asked: How do you stay in shape?

  • Bluejay

    You can see her struggle to be a good team player and talk up the movie while at the same time voicing her frustration. She must be seething.

  • Bluejay

    A vision is not a film.

    Yes, because del Toro never got to make it. We are discussing the film he might have made, based on his public statements, and we’re openly aware that that’s the nature of the discussion. What’s your point?

  • Beowulf

    My point is that no matter what he said, he never made a film version so it is moot. He MIGHT have made “Plan 9 From Middle Earth.”

  • Bluejay

    Is “It never happened, so all discussion of it is moot” your standard response to all speculative conversations? You must be no fun at parties.

  • Charlotte Marks

    Wow, you disappoint me, MaryAnn. As a lifelong Tolkien geek (and that spans several decades), I adore these movies. Richard Armitage is amazing, Martin Freeman is the perfect Bilbo… Lee Pace, good lord, I can’t even. I wept at Thorin’s death, and his final words to Bilbo, such an exquisite scene. God bless Jackson, Walsh, Boyens and the rest of that mad and merry crew in NZ for loving this world as much as I do, and I revel in and cherish every second of this series. I feel a little sorry that you don’t. Too bad.

  • Michael Ray Gould

    I love them, too Charlotte. I think the biggest problem with the Hobbit movies is the way they are marketed. A more accurate title would be “Tales from the Third Age” or something, since they are basically telling the story of what happened from The beginning of the Hobbit through the end of the Hobbit. Some of it was invention, sure…all of the Turiel story, but there was also a lot of stuff that isn’t in the Hobbit but was in other books. Appendices, even the chapter on the Third Age from the Silmarillion. I was really hoping Jackson would include the driving out of the Necromancer, and am delighted with the result. It’s not really “The Hobbit,” but I love it dearly, and am looking forward to buying the extended box set, even though I never do that anymore for any movie, what with Netflix an Amazon Prime.

  • Bluejay

    Don’t feel bad. I’m sure MaryAnn loves some things that you don’t care for. Should she feel sorry for you? :-)

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    Sigh. Saw it the other night and wasn’t surprised! I’ve never wanted to watch the first or second movie another time, and don’t expect more from this, the third. I’d much rather have had one good solid Hobbit movie that I love to watch repeatedly than three interminable disappointments!

  • I’m a lifelong Tolkien geek too. First read *The Hobbit* when I was around 11 or 12 (more than 30 years ago) and I’ve reread it and LOTR many times. There’s no need to feel sorry for me. I still have the books.

  • Beowulf

    I am a lot of fun at parties. My point, since you seem to have a problem with comprehending a different take on all this, is that since he didn’t make it, he could just as easily made a piece of dreck as easily as a classic. James Dean might have made a wonderful late life “Hamlet,” too.

  • Bluejay

    I comprehend your point perfectly, but it’s just such a self-evident point that I wonder why you keep making it. Yes, we’re talking about the film del Toro MIGHT have made, and it goes without saying that it MIGHT not have turned out well. I’m not sure why you’re trying to use it as a counterargument in an openly speculative discussion about hypotheticals that already implicitly accepts that point.

  • Charlotte Marks

    Good points, and I’m glad to know you loved them too.

    I eagerly await the EE and boxed set too (really enjoyed the first two), but knowing that is the absolute last visit to Jackson and Co.’s Middle-earth will be heart-breaking. My one request would be a commentary track featuring Pace and Armitage, as they (along with Cumberbatch) appear to be the biggest Tolkien geeks of all.


  • Beowulf

    I’m retired.

  • *sighs*
    These movies started out slightly above mediocre, and just
    got worse. This makes me sad, as I really wanted to like them. I love
    the world, and (some of) the characters. It’s just that I didn’t care
    one bit about any of them. It doesn’t help that the story is completely
    devoid of emotion, and any real consequences.
    The two best
    characters, Bilbo and Gandalf, had absolutely nothing to do here,
    wandering around like lost puppy dogs. It was kind of sad.
    The battle,
    which is basically the entire movie, is way too long, and is filled
    with too many ridiculous moments, that are meant to stir us, but just
    left me wondering when it was all going to end.
    They really should have just made The Hobbit one long 3 hour movie, or maybe two, with a tad bit more exposition.
    These movies just dragged, with too many lengthy scenes that added nothing to the overall story.

    My 13 year old son seems to have liked them quite a bit, and maybe I
    would have too, at his age. It’s amazing what years of life and wisdom
    do to ones perspective and enjoyment of things like movies.

  • DDRC^$$$

    Its a movie worth seeing and even more so if you didn’t read the books but while watching this film i kept trying to use my game controller during all the fight scenes. They changed the story so much it felt like it was from a different book not the Hobbit . One more thing ,,, Why is Russel Brand look alike in this movie so much ? half the film i was Hoping a Troll would rip the guys head off . i would not spend premium Show Tix Dollars on this wait for the DVD.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    OMFG the eagles. The really do solve every problem, don’t they?

    Where did the rams come from?

    Why do we keep going back to Alfrid over and over and over and over?

    What happened to the Arkenstone?

    Is Gandalf a wizard or isn’t he?

    Is the gold cursed, or the Arkenstone? Or is Thorin just a greedy asshole, descended form a long line of greedy assholes?

    How did Bilbo get back up on the wall?

    Does Turiel serve any function other than a) to mitigate the sausagefest nature of the book, and b) to get other, more interesting characters killed?

    Isn’t Thranduil both a racist and a coward?

  • Jonathan Roth

    Coen brothers’ The Pipesucker Proxy.
    James Cameron’s Dwarves.

  • Jonathan Roth

    You really don’t want to ride an eagle when it gets hungry though.


    (page features violence, but do not browse the rest of the comic at work.)

  • JohnDowel

    Just saw it today……the Hobbit series feels forced. The film has a much different feel than the original Rings films. You don’t feel invested in the characters as you did with those early films….and the story telling is labored. Not great…..some parts were boring, actually.

  • BN.filmz

    “Gandalf’s absences were supposed to be mysterious. Here: all the mystery is gone. That’s not an improvement.”

    Yes, it IS an improvement. Gandalf leaving the company at the edge of Mirkwood, doesn’t make much sense, when it isn’t explained further. That’s why the information that Tolkien provides us with in the Appendices, is needed.
    The whole quest was, after all, Gandalf’s idea; he was the one who had arranged it. So what on (Middle-)earth could be so important, that he had to leave them?

    You claim, that it was supposed to be a mystery. But what good is a “mystery” that’s never solved? The problem is, that Gandalf’s “mysterious” errand REMAINS a mystery (if the Appendices are left out), cause we don’t know a thing about the Necromancer and Dol Guldur and the White Council. And when Bilbo learns what Gandalf has been doing, all of these things seem pretty abstract and irrelevant.

  • BN.filmz

    “Jackson ….. takes three films to show off the stuff that HE made up, that ISN’T in The Hobbit.”

    Sorry, but that’s just wrong. Jackson’s adaptation is not an adaptation of ‘The Hobbit’ – it’s an adaptation of ‘The Hobbit’ PLUS the chapters “Durin’s Folk” and “The Third Age” in the Appendices of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (LOTR), and some of the information that Tolkien provided in the LOTR chapters “The Shadow of the Past” and “Council of Elrond”. Jackson uses Tolkien overall mythology instead of just ignoring it.

  • Bluejay

    So Jackson didn’t make up the video game barrel ride with orcs, or the Tauriel-Kili-Legolas love triangle, or the unfunny “Wormtongue-lite” Laketown assistant who eats up too much screen time, or the giant golden dwarf that melts all over Smaug (to no effect whatsoever), etc? That’s all official Tolkien mythology?

    Tolkien may have written appendices and unfinished tales and mountains of backstory, but he didn’t try to cram all of his worldbuilding into the story itself. If it didn’t help move the story along, then that information stayed exactly where it should be: in appendices and unfinished tales. Readers could dip into those bits if they want, but they wouldn’t be forced to digest that information whole in the course of reading one story.

    Besides, if Jackson really wanted to devote more screen time to that information, he wouldn’t have wasted so much time on his own extraneous inventions. (To be clear: I have no problem with Jackson making things up — if they work, which I think they did in LOTR. Here, they feel forced and unnecessary.)

    Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy is not “bloated”. It is COMPLETE.

    I don’t know if it’s complete, but even if it is, it’s certainly bloated as well. If bloat is the price of completeness, then I’d prefer a story that’s a little less complete and a little more tightly written. Knowing when to leave things unsaid and unseen is a virtue of storytelling.

    Basically, I agree with a lot of this.

  • BN.filmz

    “So Jackson didn’t make up the video game barrel ride with orcs, or the Tauriel-Kili-Legolas love triangle, or the unfunny “Wormtongue-lite” Laketown assistant who eats up too much screen time, or the giant golden dwarf that melts all over Smaug (to no effect whatsoever), etc? That’s all official Tolkien mythology?”

    What did I just write? I wrote: “He [Jackson] DOES fill in some blanks, but only in order to make the story more coherent and make a natural transition to his Lord of the Rings film trilogy.”

    “Tolkien may have written appendices and unfinished tales and mountains of backstory, but he didn’t try to cram all of his worldbuilding into the story itself.”

    That’s completely irrelevant, cause Peter Jackson’s trilogy isn’t just an adaptation of the Hobbit story. It’s also an adaptation of the Appendices, which contain some events (subplots) that are closely connected to the events of ‘The Hobbit’. And of course these subplots could have worked, if they had been “crammed into” the story itself. The fact that Tolkien didn’t do that, doesn’t prove that it wouldn’t have worked. Given the fact that the Appendices were Tolkien’s way of connecting the events of ‘The Hobbit’ with both the events of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and his overall mythology, it’s only appropriate, that Peter Jackson (who had already adapted The Lord of the Rings) uses the Appendices exactly the same way.

    “To be clear: I have no problem with Jackson making things up — if they work, which I think they did in LOTR. Here, they feel forced and unnecessary.”

    Fair enough. You just have to remember, that that is an opinion (YOUR opinion) – and not a fact. I think, that the things Jackson and his co-writers added, feel natural and VERY necessary, because they improve the story vastly. … And that is also just an opinion. ;-)

  • Bluejay

    What did I just write? I wrote: “He [Jackson] DOES fill in some blanks, but only in order to make the story more coherent and make a natural transition to his Lord of the Rings film trilogy.”

    How do the examples I mentioned help make the story more coherent? Where you see “coherent,” I see “superfluous.”

    The fact that Tolkien didn’t do that, doesn’t prove that it wouldn’t have worked.

    Perhaps not. But the way that Jackson did it doesn’t prove that it would have worked either, because it didn’t. :-)

    You just have to remember, that that is an opinion (YOUR opinion)

    Oh come on, we’re both adults here (I assume). OF COURSE it’s my opinion, and I’m well aware of it, and it doesn’t need to be pointed out to me. We’re all expressing opinions here; what matters is how well we SUPPORT them. All opinions have an equal right to be voiced, but that doesn’t mean that all opinions are equally well-founded. ;-)

  • BN.filmz

    “How do the examples I mentioned help make the story more coherent?”

    “The barrel ride with orcs”: A good movie needs recurring villains. To have orcs in that scene is a better build-up to the coming battle. It’s actually a bit of a prelude, since we meet three of the war parties: dwarves, elves and orcs.

    “the Tauriel-Kili-Legolas love triangle”: It makes me care about Kili. It’s important to me that I’m emotionally involved, if I’m supposed to care about Kili’s fate. Tauriel worries about Kili, and Kili worries about his brother Fili, and therefore I care about all of them. … The book doesn’t even TRY to make me care. The death of the two brothers is nothing but a footnote, a dry remark. In the book there are no feelings connected to their death – noone ever expresses sorrow over their death. (Besides that, the lack of female characters is definitely one of the book’s weaknesses.)

    “the unfunny “Wormtongue-lite” Laketown assistant”: His scenes were very few and very short. And he wasn’t supposed to be funny in all of his scenes – only in a couple of them. Bard needs some interaction with other characters from Laketown. And there needs to be at least a bit of humor in the middle of an otherwise sad and dramatic story.

    “the giant golden dwarf that melts all over Smaug (to no effect whatsoever)”: The point of that scene was to show, that Smaug was practically invincible. The dwarves could not harm him in any way. But it makes sense, that the dwarves would at least make an attempt after having travelled this far, which is another reason why the films represents an improvement of the story.

  • Bluejay

    A good movie needs recurring villains. To have orcs in that scene is a better build-up to the coming battle.

    To me it’s just overkill. (Literally.) These films (and the preceding trilogy) are already stuffed to the brim with battles against orcs; adding an orc battle to a scene that didn’t need it feels like a tired decision, even a safe one. (“How do we make this scene more interesting? Let’s add orcs!”) The barrel ride would have worked just fine without them. Instead we get orcs, and Legolas using the dwarves’ heads as stepping-stones, and Bombur apparently having downloaded video-game fighting moves from the Matrix. I didn’t find the scene surprising or entertaining, or necessary as a prelude to later battles. I found it numbing and ridiculous.

    It’s important to me that I’m emotionally involved, if I’m supposed to care about Kili’s fate. […] Besides that, the lack of female characters is definitely one of the book’s weaknesses.

    Yes, it’s important to be invested in the characters, and yes, I think in principle it’s an awesome idea to add women to an unnecessarily all-male story. However, there are many ways of getting an audience to care; the LOTR films had nine major characters in the Fellowship and several secondary ones, and Jackson had no problem fleshing them all out as sympathetic individuals and getting us to care about them. We could have cared plenty about Kili without needing a stilted elf/dwarf romance to do so.

    And that’s the problem with Tauriel; here’s someone who could have been a great female character, with agency and her own arc and journey, and instead she gets stuck with one of the most cliched traditional female roles ever. (It’s worth noting that Evangeline Lilly didn’t care for the love triangle either — a plotline which feels tacked-on and was, in fact, literally tacked on to the material they’d already filmed.)

    As for the other scenes you mention: I didn’t find Wormtongue-lite funny at all, even in the scenes where he was supposed to be; and the golden dwarf scene struck me as Jackson just spinning his wheels, throwing in a non-event with zero effect on the story, to pad out the running time until the next film. Needless to say, these are far from the only scenes I have a problem with.

    I can understand that these plot additions might have had the purpose you describe, but in my view they failed in their aim. They don’t come across as necessary; they come across as bloat.

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