We’ll start this off with a warning: SPOILERS
Seriously. Spoilers. Last warning. Okay.
Back in 2001, I was in High School. It was a long damn time ago. And I saw The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. It was brilliant. It was so brilliant, I saw it 7 times in theatres. Seven times, no hyperbole. I was 16. I had a job, but not a ton of money. I was giving up food and manga to buy tickets to a movie I’d seen already. LOTS of alreadies. One time, I came right out of the theatre, bought a ticket for the next showing, and then saw it again.
And I wasn’t a Tolkien fan. At all. I’d read the books, and they were okay, but I like to have female characters in my fantasy books. Because it makes me feel more powerful when I read books where women are being badass. So they did not resonate with me as much as they might have. There was so much realism with the movies, though, that the almost completely male cast did not bother me.
I say all of this to illustrate how much not liking the Hobbit trilogy hurts me. I want so much to love these movies as I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I just can’t. A lot of what made the LOTR awesome wasn’t continued. Primarily use of the practical effects.
So, with that said… let’s review.
I saw this in 3D, but it wasn’t the 3D that got me. There’s a scene that involves some of the elves and wizards, and there’s some magicalish stuff that happens (I know I said spoilers, but I don’t want to give away EVERYTHING), and it goes WAY too far with the almost acid-trip visuals. Completely, in my mind, unnecessary. And would be, in my opinion, something to watch out for if you are concerned about such things.
General and Plot
This continues the story of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (my review of that is here). Smaug, the dragon, escapes the dwarven cave castle and is headed to destroy Laketown. Smaug does this fairly easily. Because Smaug is a fucking dragon, and Laketown is a bunch of wooden shacks built way too close together.
Then, Smaug is killed, because [insert unbelievable bullshit here … because Smaug is a fucking dragon AND Benedict Cumberbatch].
Since that lasted all of like 5 minutes of the 2 and a half hour runtime, and also there’s something about armies in the title, killing the unkillable does not end this movie. Instead, the people of Laketown intend to go to the mountain, meet with Thorin (our dwarf king) – who is going gold-crazy – to get help and the share of money that was promised if Laketown helped (which they did).
Also going to the mountain are the Wood Elves, who need some pretty diamond things that belong to them. So … army. I guess.
Thorin basically tells everyone to screw off, he’s keeping his stuff because he’s king and basically gone the same sort of crazy people get over the Ring in the LOTR movies. (Granted, he’s got a LOT more gold to go crazy over. He has a whole damn hall floor done in gold.)
While all this is happening, Legolas and Tauriel have headed north to find out that an orc army is headed their way, along with another orc army from another place, as well as a dwarf army, that elf army, and the humans who are totally not an army.
Heeeyyyy! There’s our title.
Would have been better with a dragon.
There’s fighting. There’s dying. The end.
Aside from Smaug, who is amazingly beautiful, the film feels rather like TV-level camera work spliced with Hollywood-level CGI. Way close in on the actors doing little things, then pan back for just the fake stuff. By doing away with the majority of the practical effects, it left the film looking disjointed. Like putting home movies into The Avengers 3 (which I assume will have better graphics than 1).
The worst visual in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King is when Legolas climbs the oliphaunt.
Just took Legolas’s magicness too far. This time Legolas rides a bat up and around a mountain. Upside down. I’d share a picture of it, but I can’t find it. Legolas is too much magic for my mind to even begin to believe the amount of unbelievable he’s pulling out of his butt. He also joysticks a big orc/troll thing for awhile.
He’s absurd. Threw me totally out of a movie I was already having problems sticking with because the fight just wasn’t as compelling as it would need to be to get over the live/CGI disjointedness.
I wasn’t impressed here, either. Martin Freeman, who continues as Bilbo… well, was very Watson in this part. Whether it was trying to reason with Thorin, grieving over Thorin, whining about property, whatever, it all felt like his Watson from Sherlock.
Really, all of the acting felt weak. I don’t know if it’s because some of the actors are just so used to their characters by now that it doesn’t really matter, or if they were acting off of so much green screen that it kept them from being as good as they could have been.
An exception here is still the relationship between Kili and Tauriel. Here’s where the spoilers really come into play. Their acting was pretty good, but what they did was bullshit. Jackson inserted this female elf, Tauriel. Can she fight? Yes. She’s pretty darn badass. But the primary arc of her character is her relationship with the dwarf Kili. It’s sweet, don’t get me wrong, but he inserted a female for a love story. Nothing else. She became something of an apex point in the triangle of her, Kili, and Legolas … and it did not work… at all. She and Kili were okay, but Legolas … it was weird, I couldn’t really tell what he wanted.
Then, then, during a fight Tauriel gets in a jam. Kili hears and comes for her. They fight, he gets in a jam, she saves him, she gets in a jam, he saves her, he dies. Sweet that he died for his love, I guess? Both of these characters took down dozens of orcs without blinking a few minutes ago. Now two of them together can’t take down one?
Then Evangeline Lilly is forced to say something to the effect of “I want to bury him … If this is what love is, I don’t want it, take it from me”. The language, the phrasing, it felt like something that belonged in … I don’t know, Twilight more than in this film.
For what it is, she says it okay, but damn is she having to work against what she’s given.
Future notice: If you’re going to add a woman to try and female-up your largely male movie, she doesn’t have to carry a love story with her. Heck, you could have turned one of Bard’s daughters into a little warrior … that would have been incredible.
Interesting to Note
Nothing. Nothing at all.
All in all
This should be no surprise, but I wasn’t happy with it. I was, in fact, rather unhappy with it. Not Star Wars prequels levels of unhappy, but it wasn’t the continuation of Tolkein’s world that I wanted. Or – to use an overused The Dark Knight quote – that we, as movie-going people, deserved. I’m going to go watch the originals now. Have a good tomorrow.