What can I say? People know by this point that “The Hobbit” trilogy isn’t my cup of tea. Yeah they’re OK, but people want more than that, and they get upset when I have less to give them — which I most certainly do. “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is the end of the cinematic universe of Tolkien for the foreseeable future due to issues with the Tolkien estate in securing rights to Tolkien’s other works (Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R.’s son, hates these films unequivocally). I’ll say this to accommodate Hobbit lovers as well as people more akin to my taste. “The Battle of the Five Armies” is again over padded — even though it is the shortest of the six Peter Jackson films — and it still oozes CGI where it isn’t always need, even more so actually. However, it is the best of the Hobbit trilogy so if you enjoyed those, best start emptying your wallets.
Many complained of the pacing issues with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” — Peter Jackson’s first part of the prequel trilogy to “The Lord of the Rings”– and I can’t say I disagree. I do not agree with the general opinion that the initial films first half was the issue, no. As far as I’m concerned as soon as Bilbo Baggins left the wonderfully well adapted version of The Shire and the film began to descend into its second half, “An Unexpected Journey” seemed to lose its way. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” seeks to resolve these issues by thrusting us right into the action, but then expects us to carry on caring until the credits roll and we are expected to empty our wallets for the next one. An unfortunate mistake.
(Note: This film is going to fill you in on previous events from the first movie. I suggest you watch the first film otherwise you’ll spend much of this one in confusion I would think. The first one is also better.)
It is good to be back, I’ll say that much. The opening scenes of Peter Jackson’s first entry into the prequel trilogy of “The Lord of the Rings” — “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” — evokes that now decade old trilogy. It is a welcoming feeling, but “The Hobbit” novel released in 1937 was never as dark as “The Lord of the Rings” and was intended for an entirely different audience, namely children. This adaptation isn’t bad by any means, but it loses steam in the latter half due to its overlong run time and evident padding.
Here it is. This is the definitive “Lord of the Rings” as cinema has decided to depict it. No, it still isn’t faithful to the books but we’ve established this. Taken on its own or with respect to the first two parts, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” is probably the most consistently entertaining picture that spans a length of 200 or so minutes that you are ever likely to see. You know how I said “The Two Towers” was better than “Fellowship of the Ring“? Well this one dwarfs both of them.
Having read Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” I knew that the Hobbits would be separate from the slightly taller members of the Fellowship for the whole film. Also, knowing a lot less of this film would be spent travelling I was confident that the Hobbits would get some of their own screen time as the unlikely heroes in a world filled with treachery. Sadly I was wrong — The Hobbits are almost nowhere to be seen for a majority of the adventure. I can’t pretend I’m not upset that they have been pushed aside like the little folk they are, but in what has been provided to replace them is certainly interesting and better in almost every way than “The Fellowship of the Ring”.
“I feel thin. Sort of stretched… like butter scraped over too much bread.” — Bilbo Baggins
Bilbo Baggin’s seems to be speaking on behalf of “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” with this line. The first of the blockbuster epic franchise, and what was surely the hardest of the books to film. In Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” the most distance is covered by the Fellowship and Frodo goes to many different locals that are each fully fleshed out and serve to establish the expansive world of Middle Earth. In this adaption of the 1954 novel, the Hobbits and their allies in the Fellowship go to far less places, and spend far less time in each. The film can’ t accommodate for the grand scope of the novels, even with the concessions made by Peter Jackson. Each location mainly serves to create some sort of action set piece that is usually very impressive, and the feeling of the start of an epic adventure is what makes the first part of Tolkien’s film trilogy truly worth your time.
What we get now, are horrors, slashers and action movies that are too focused on throwing action right in your face without so much as saying please first. What “Alien” realises, like “Jaws” before it, is that part of the splendour of these films is mostly found away from the explosions. “Alien” is special for many reasons but particularly because it knows exactly how much to show you and how little as well. Ridley Scott uses restraint perfectly and the end result is one of the best science fiction movies of all time but also one of the best movie movies of all time.