The Last Goodbye
After two films that meandered and plodded (okay, the second meandered/ plodded less than the first), the final film in the unnecessary prequel trilogy (I still have dreams where I watched Guillermo Del Toro’s two-part version) that is The Hobbit was an action-packed visual delight that neatly managed to tie up loose ends and set the stage for the other, long-completed trilogy.
One would think that, after that long dinner scene that introduced the major characters in the first Hobbit film, the audience will say goodbye in the same manner–like we did in the third LOTR film. But no, this was a cleaner, and less contrived send-off. Bilbo’s goodbye to the remaining dwarves and invitation to tea resonated to me as a heartfelt declaration of love. Wish I could say the same about the romantic subplot, which was an awkward affair.
I had high hopes when the only female character (Tauriel, played by the lovely Evangeline Lily) was introduced in the second film because they said they wanted to make up for the lack of any female character in the book. I was looking forward to seeing her be a bad-ass in this film but she all she seemed to do here is to pine for her love. Because of this, she came off as nothing but one-dimensional. Well, if the object of my affection looked anything like Aidan Turner, I would probably do the same, but I digress.
Speaking of bad-assery, there is one scene that showed familiar characters (Galadriel, Saruman, Gandalf, and Elrond) in so much bad-assery that I wished it was longer. If I remember correctly, the encounter with the Nazgul was longer in the book. In the film it was tense and gripping, but I wish there was more.
These minor quibbles aside, Peter Jackson makes up for his surprising staging of action scenes. Case in point: in Smaug’s attack of Lake-town, he focused on the people fleeing the scene–with varying motivations and degrees of success, making the whole scene more engaging, compelling, and frightening to watch. The Orc’s attack on Erebor was a perfect combination of an elaborately choreographed fight scene and an all-out brawl. Watching the elves leap like gazelles from the phalanx of dwarves towards the Orc horde was breath-taking. I also liked the (probably unintended) humor from the Orcs. The on-foot battering ram who collapsed after doing his job and the giant who fell on the comrades who were following him on the stone steps, among others. I mean, we all know them to be icky and scary but who knew they could be bumbling idiots as well?
Add to this merry mix the outstanding performance of the cast, in particular Richard Armitage (Thorin) who played his spiral into madness with maniacal glee. It was unsettling to look at his heavy-lidded eyes as it glimmered before exploding in rage. Martin Freeman’s (Bilbo) performance was effortless; he seemed to have grown into his role, even if he had to step back to benefit the plot and the story. Of course, Ian McKellen (Gandalf) chews every scene that he’s in, with both camp and gravity. Other notable performances were those of Luke Evans (Bard), Lee Pace (Thranduil), Aidan Turner (Kili), and Manu Bennett (Azog), even if he was buried in make-up. Among the veteran cast, Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Hugo Weaving (Elrond), and Christopher Lee (Saruman) kicked ass.
The Hobbit-The Battle of the Five Armies is a rousing conclusion to the prequel trilogy and a sweet farewell to Middle-Earth. As a trilogy, The Hobbit never quite emerged from the shadows of the LOTR trilogy but it’s a mighty fine successor. The song at the end moved me to tears. I can’t wait for the extended version on DVD.
Posted on December 17, 2014, in review and tagged 2014, Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, movie, Peter Jackson, Richard Armitage, The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.