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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)


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From the Hollywood Reporter's generally positive review. 

 

One of the frustrations of the first two artificially carved out Hobbit installments, which individually took nearly three hours to cover a roughly 100-page chunk of the book, was that, while everyone knew where the story was headed, it was clear it was going to take a very, very long time to get there. If An Unexpected Journey was basically a leisurely paced walking-and-talking film and The Desolation of Smaug was a waist-deep immersion in a world of peril, Battle serves up a Middle-earth version of the bombing of Dresden as an appetizer and just goes from there as grievances are aired, allegiances are weighed, potential foes are sized up and preparations are made for the ultimate battle to be fought at the Lonely Mountain.

 

 

Because when you think of The Hobbit, Dresden is usually the first thing that comes to mind.

 

Edited by John Drew

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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My review.
 
Last paragraph: 

 

And yet there is enough skill on display and, in the end, a sufficient vestige of real feeling that, as the credits roll to the plaintive strains of The Last Goodbye by Pippin himself, Billy Boyd (whose Edge of Night song was a highlight in Return of the King), the film goes out on a note of melancholy nostalgia. The sketchy end-credit imagery often feels more Tolkienesque than anything in the preceding two-plus hours, leaving one wistfully contemplating: what might have been, what might have been.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Someone on Facebook just asked me whether there was an intentional nod to The Emperor's New Groove in my review.

 

And I was like, what? The Emperor's New Groove? Really? I don't remember that, but it's possible.

So I scanned my review, and I found the line, and now I'm like, oh, yeah, I probably did that, didn't I? Not intentionally, but still. 

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Do we have a thread dedicated to Peter Jackson's Middle-earth films as a whole, both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

 

In any case, my latest piece focuses more on The Battle of the Five Armies than any other particular film, so this is a reasonable place for it. 

 

It's about Tolkien's Catholic themes, his Christian fans and how much better the Lord of the Rings films did here than the Hobbit films, particularly Five Armies. This anecdote was new to me: 

 

Tolkien was chagrined when an early script treatment for a “Lord of the Rings” film referred to lembas as a “food concentrate.”
 
“No analysis in any laboratory would discover chemical properties of lembas that made it superior to other cakes of wheat-meal,” Tolkien protested in words that could easily describe the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation. Lembas, he added, “has a much larger significance, of what one might hesitatingly call a ‘religious’ kind.”…
 
Judging from Tolkien’s at times curmudgeonly critique of that early treatment, he probably would have shared his son Christopher’s blistering contempt for Peter Jackson’s films…

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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... Peter Jackson's Middle-earth ...

 

Ummmm.... don't give him any more ideas.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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I should have followed Overstreet's lead on this one and just skipped it altogether. Here's how I'd summarize my response to these three films:

 

Part 1: Profound disappointment

Part 2: Resignation (which is probably why I prefer the middle installment over the other two--but only in the way someone prefers having a head cold to having the flu)

Part 3: Outright disdain

 

I honestly felt anger at points during this latest installment. It all seemed so ugly and so pointless.  I kept alternating between rolling my eyes and checking my watch. This was almost like watching a parody of a Peter Jackson film.

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Wired nails it (includes some spoilers), although saying "Peter Jackson Must Be Stopped" at this stage seems a bit after-the-fact. I frankly just closed my eyes through the long action sequences in the first two movies. I'm going to see this one, just to get through it, but I expect I won't be watching the frantic run-jump-kill stuff here, either.

 

 

You can’t fault Jackson for the his physical world-building. The attention to detail—every set, every special effect, every prop and suit of armor and ruined town, every last smoldering candlestick and dragon scale—is unparalleled. Middle-earth feels real. But in these Hobbit movies, the more important thing to get right is situational realism: How the plot turns, what the characters do, if they move through space in a believable way. All this is thrown out the door. The sincerity of Thorin and Bilbo’s struggles is completely undermined by the story’s blanket disregard for physics, logic, and credibility. Gone into the ether is Tolkien’s gentle, thoughtful, and more plausible children’s tale.

(Thanks to Allan Willcox for the link.)

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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And now for a completely different perspective
 
(Yes, making fun of MovieGuide is easy, but this is too good.)
 

strong inspirational aspects of forgiveness and heroic sacrifice...movie also highlights the dangers of greed...plus there is reference to using spells to be free when Gandalf is trapped in a cell on the top of a mountain

As opposed to using spells to be free from a curse when Harry Potter uses them, because it's different.
 

scary scene when Galadriel (the Elf Queen) wards off creature with a scary sounding voice; no sex; upper male nudity
...
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES ends a 15-year journey for filmmaker Peter Jackson, who has so effectively brought to life the prequel trilogy to THE LORD OF THE RINGS, which he began filming way back in 1999. As with the previous two Hobbit movies, THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES is truly an epic inspirational adventure into Middle Earth that you never want to end.
...
Throughout this inspirational epic conclusion to the HOBBIT trilogy is some amazing cinematography using green screen very effectively, along with New Zealand’s awesome terrain that so convincingly portrays what Middle Earth should look like. The action and drama will keep viewers on the edge of their seats that they probably won’t realize that the movie is nearly two and one-half hours long.

Probably because it seems like two and one-half weeks long.
 

Peter Jackson has effectively brought to life a masterpiece, something of which even J. R. R. Tolkien could be proud. Jackson effectively communicates the Christian values inherent in Tolkien’s original story to inspire viewers...

Um, how could they not know what Christopher Tolkien has said about Jackson's films?
 

As with some of the cast such as Orlando Bloom and Ian McKellen who have been featured in all six of the LORD OF THE RINGS and HOBBIT movies, viewers will feel a sadness that this epic journey has ended, but also know that the legacy of these movies will inspire many generations to come.

Let's hope not.

Edited by Evan C

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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Orlando Bloom wasn't in An Unexpected Journey, was he?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Orlando Bloom wasn't in An Unexpected Journey, was he?

No, he wasn't.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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Well. There and back again, indeed. I echo Morgan's disappointment, but not his anger. I'm not sure I can get angry about what essentially passes as watching someone else play a video game. I'm disappointed that Jackson seemed to forget the beauty he found to offset the grotesque in LOTR. I'm disappointed he failed to explore Bilbo's growth into Tookishness. I'm disappointed that he failed to realize the friendships that developed between the characters in the quest while inventing a hamfisted romance between Elf and Dwarf. I'm disappointed that he spent so much time with fighting fighting fighting and with meaningless secondary characters like unibrow from laketown. But I'm not angry because it's so inconsequential that I am just numb.

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Well. There and back again, indeed. I echo Morgan's disappointment, but not his anger. I'm not sure I can get angry about what essentially passes as watching someone else play a video game. I'm disappointed that Jackson seemed to forget the beauty he found to offset the grotesque in LOTR. I'm disappointed he failed to explore Bilbo's growth into Tookishness. I'm disappointed that he failed to realize the friendships that developed between the characters in the quest while inventing a hamfisted romance between Elf and Dwarf. I'm disappointed that he spent so much time with fighting fighting fighting and with meaningless secondary characters like unibrow from laketown. But I'm not angry because it's so inconsequential that I am just numb.

 

This is probably unfair of me, but I think my anger stemmed from the fact that I felt like Peter Jackson had disdain for ME as an audience member for this third installment. I honestly haven't felt this way since watching one of Michael Bay's Transformers movies.  I already knew that this would be nothing like The Hobbit I know and love. But this wasn't just a bad Tolkien adaptation, it was a bad movie, period. It seemed like the only thing Jackson was interested in was upping the body count, out-doing previous action scenes, and generally just making a gigantic digital spectacle. Again, like Michael Bay.  :(

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The inevitable fan-edits begin.

 

Created by the quite succinctly named "TolkienEditor" and dubbed "The Tolkien Edit," here's some of what he/she dropped from this slim-downed version:
 
• The investigation of Dol Guldor has been completely excised, including the appearances of Radagast, Saruman and Galadriel. ... Like the novel, Gandalf abruptly disappears on the borders of Mirkwood, and then reappears at the siege of the Lonely Mountain with tidings of an orc army.
 
• The Tauriel-Legolas-Kili love triangle has also been removed. Indeed, Tauriel is no longer a character in the film, and Legolas only gets a brief cameo during the Mirkwood arrest.
 
• The prelude with old Bilbo is gone. As with the novel, I find the film works better if the scope starts out small (in a cosy hobbit hole), and then grows organically as Bilbo ventures out into the big, scary world.
 
• Several of the orc skirmishes have been cut. I felt that the Battle of the Five Armies provided more than enough orc mayhem. If you pack in too much before then, they just become monotonous, and it lessons their menace in the audience's mind.
 
• A lot of filler scenes have been cut as well. These are usually harder to spot (and I've probably missed a couple), but once they're gone, you'll completely forget that they ever existed. For example, the 4-minute scene where Bard buys some fish and the dwarves gather up his pay.
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I'm mildly curious as to whether there are any scenes from Tolkien's book that only appeared in the extended editions of the first two films (the extended edition of the third film isn't out yet), and whether those scenes were incorporated into this 4.5-hour edit.

 

In other news, I was reminded yesterday that Tolkien not only pulled a George Lucas on the 'Riddles in the Dark' chapter, but he *almost* pulled a Peter Jackson on the entire book:

 

After Lord of the Rings Tolkien decided to revise The Hobbit one more time. This time around he intended to change the whole thing, to bring the narrative and tone more in line with the darkness of Lord of the Rings. He made it a few chapters in before everybody sensibly stopped him and told him he was ruining the original work. Those chapters have been published in a massive two volume set called The History of the Hobbit.

 

Oh, and with regard to that fan-edit, I wonder where the footage from the third movie came from? Did Warner send out for-your-consideration screeners?

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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As of last week, The Hobbit 3 is now behind where all five previous Middle-Earth movies were at this point in their releases in North America. However, it has outgrossed The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers worldwide.

 
It has also become the 2nd film of 2014 -- and the 31st film of all time -- to gross over $900 million worldwide.
 

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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This is a couple months old now, but I just noticed it: Jackson on the film's PG-13 rating:

 

At the very least, I feel like you upped the cool factor with this battle. Particularly with Legolas and the scene where he climbs up a crumbling tower. He’s always getting the flashiest action sequences.

 

Legolas is fun. It’s good to have the challenge. When we did The Lord of the Rings, we shot some cool stuff in the first one where he pulls arrows out and fires them fast, and I thought that was incredibly clever. And then The Two Towers came along and we came up with that thing where he slides down the stairs on the shield, which was just a throwaway gag. [We thought] that would be cool. But also in The Two Towers, we had the scene where he was jumping on a horse. What happened there was, Orlando [bloom] wasn’t supposed to do that at all. The horse was supposed to stop and he was supposed to climb on the horse like a normal person… And before we got to that, Orlando fell off the horse and cracked a rib.

 

We kept on shooting for another year...and were never able to get the shot of him climbing on the horse. So in the cutting room, we got a plate of a horse and put a CGI guy getting on him. With the freedom of doing that, we were able to do a non-human, flip-y thing. So when that film came out, audiences literally cheered. It was a cheer that we got for something that was a complete fluke. And then we did pickups for Return of the King, we just felt we had to top that. There was this thing that had developed: What’s the next cool thing that the elf is going to do? So when he shows up in these films, we were like, “Oh we’re going to have to do [something cool] again.” That fight on the tower is just brutal.

 

It is. In fact, and correct me if I am wrong, I feel like there are way more beheadings in this trilogy than Lord of the Rings, many of which come at the hands of Legolas.

 

There probably are. See, the trick too, as a filmmaker, you’ve got guys fighting with blades. They don’t have guns or machine guns or grenades. So when you want to kill people, you’ve got limited options. One of the weird things with these films, which I must confess I actually quite enjoy, we sit around thinking how we are going to kill an Orc. You actually turn into a psychopath. And actually I can think of a hell of a great way to kill Orcs but I am always restricted by PG-13, unfortunately.

 

What would you have done if you had the R rating?

 

Oh all sorts of great things. I will tell you what, you wait for the extended cut of this film. There are a few Orc killings that we actually got knocked back. Because when we submitted this to the MPAA we got an R. So what you’re seeing is the result of heavy editing to even just get the PG-13. But there will be a little bit of Orc killing to be seen in the extended cut.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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You know, I may have been so bored with the first Hobbit movie that I gave up on the franchise, but I'll never cease to be amazed by how much work goes into these much-derided CGI pieces. It may not be models-and-glue craft, but there's craft at work all the same.

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There is NBooth.  There's also a masterly understanding of cinematography and scene creation.  It's just too bad that they are in the service of such lamentable stories (or maybe better - that the stories are in service of them.)

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This is a couple months old now, but I just noticed it: Jackson on the film's PG-13 rating:

 

At the very least, I feel like you upped the cool factor with this battle. Particularly with Legolas and the scene where he climbs up a crumbling tower. He’s always getting the flashiest action sequences.

 

Legolas is fun. It’s good to have the challenge. When we did The Lord of the Rings, we shot some cool stuff in the first one where he pulls arrows out and fires them fast, and I thought that was incredibly clever. And then The Two Towers came along and we came up with that thing where he slides down the stairs on the shield, which was just a throwaway gag. [We thought] that would be cool. But also in The Two Towers, we had the scene where he was jumping on a horse. What happened there was, Orlando [bloom] wasn’t supposed to do that at all. The horse was supposed to stop and he was supposed to climb on the horse like a normal person… And before we got to that, Orlando fell off the horse and cracked a rib.

 

We kept on shooting for another year...and were never able to get the shot of him climbing on the horse. So in the cutting room, we got a plate of a horse and put a CGI guy getting on him. With the freedom of doing that, we were able to do a non-human, flip-y thing. So when that film came out, audiences literally cheered. It was a cheer that we got for something that was a complete fluke. And then we did pickups for Return of the King, we just felt we had to top that. There was this thing that had developed: What’s the next cool thing that the elf is going to do? So when he shows up in these films, we were like, “Oh we’re going to have to do [something cool] again.” That fight on the tower is just brutal.

 

It is. In fact, and correct me if I am wrong, I feel like there are way more beheadings in this trilogy than Lord of the Rings, many of which come at the hands of Legolas.

 

There probably are. See, the trick too, as a filmmaker, you’ve got guys fighting with blades. They don’t have guns or machine guns or grenades. So when you want to kill people, you’ve got limited options. One of the weird things with these films, which I must confess I actually quite enjoy, we sit around thinking how we are going to kill an Orc. You actually turn into a psychopath. And actually I can think of a hell of a great way to kill Orcs but I am always restricted by PG-13, unfortunately.

 

What would you have done if you had the R rating?

 

Oh all sorts of great things. I will tell you what, you wait for the extended cut of this film. There are a few Orc killings that we actually got knocked back. Because when we submitted this to the MPAA we got an R. So what you’re seeing is the result of heavy editing to even just get the PG-13. But there will be a little bit of Orc killing to be seen in the extended cut.

I will never watch these abominable movies again, but in follow up to Peter's post a few months ago, I find it interesting that the upcoming extended edition of the 3rd movie will, in fact, be rated R.

http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/the-hobbit-battle-of-the-five-armies-extended-edition-is-rated-r/

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