Last night I was privileged to see an advanced screening of The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies! Thanks to my favorite fantasy author, Jason King, for the tickets.
*SPOILER FREE REVIEW*
I hate it when people spoil movies for me, but I do enjoy a good conversation about movies. So this one will be spoiler free, and I may do a review with spoilers after I see it again on the 17th. Yes, I’m going again on the first day. In fact, I wish I could see it again sooner!
Nobody will be shocked when I say it was definitely a FIVE STAR movie.
I’m still kind of stunned by what I saw last night. It’s one of those shows that leaves me feeling displaced for a while… which I love. Since I’m not going to talk about the actual content of the show, I want to discuss some of the issues surrounding the movie as well as my overall impressions.
First of all, I was thrilled to find the screening was 3D. I absolutely love 3D movies. A lot of people tell me they don’t think it’s much different, but when the Orcrist is sticking out of the screen, the effect is mesmerizing. As a pro tip, if you get a 3D TV, the active glasses give a much more crisp 3D image. There are many movies which, if you haven’t seen them in 3D, you didn’t see the movie at all.
I watched the first two Hobbit movies (extended, 3D, of course) days before the new one. The entire trilogy is incredible. After An Unexpected Journey (movie 1), I heard a lot of concerns about it being so much sillier or childish than the Lord of the Rings movies. I assure you, the last movie felt just like the Lord of the Rings. I believe Peter Jackson and company intentionally made the first one more light hearted to reflect the feel of the Hobbit book in contrast to the Lord of the Rings books. However, the final movie is every bit as serious as the other trilogy. In fact, I would say this one is not appropriate for young children at all.
As the name implies, the climax of the series finally gives us what I have always considered to be the best feature of these movies: an epic battle. If you’ve read my high fantasy book, you’ll know how I feel about big battle scenes. Consequently, I like this movie best of the trilogy.
One of the most common complaints I’ve heard from people centers around the fact that they made three movies out of a single book. First of all, I wish they had made six movies or ten. I love these shows and don’t want them to stop coming. Luckily, Star Wars is picking back up, so I won’t have too long to be disappointed these are over. ;)
Despite my own preferences for more movies, I still think three movies worked for the Hobbit. The reason most people give for not approving is the additions to the story, like Tauriel, which they felt changed the original work. I need to look at that question from two different angles: art changing medium and modernization of old ideas.
Whenever art changes medium, some parts are lost and others must be added. As an example, imagine somebody trying to sculpt the Mona Lisa. It’s the most famous and valuable painting in the world, so it’s certainly worthy of being the subject of a sculpture. The sculptor must make some changes in order to represent this painting as a three-dimensional statue. Some parts must be left out or altered, like the background. Other parts will need to be added, such as the back of her head and maybe the bottom half of her body. Just because these changes aren’t part of the original work, doesn’t make it any less a sculpture of Leonardo Da Vinci’s classic.
Making a movie from a book is no different. Books are good at inner dialogue and getting inside the character’s head. Tolkien, especially, is an expert of lore and geneology. Those things won’t work in a movie the same way.
The original books had almost no female characters, in keeping with the old texts and mythologies Tolkien emulated. Obviously, a modern adaptation would want to improve upon such an oversight. Tauriel is a great fix. She brings romance into the story and fills out several of the other characters in a great way. The other additions (which are amazing, but I won’t elaborate on) are not only dynamic visually, but add great depth to the story.
Tolkien himself tried to bring the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings stories into alignment with revisions. These movies do a great job of bridging the gaps.
I could go on and on about this. In convention panels, I regularly do. So I’ll conclude this here and you can go to FanX if you want more.
In conclusion, anybody who enjoyed the other movies will not be disappointed. This movie delivers on all the promises in an amazing way. It is a fitting capstone for an awesome journey. Peter Jackson’s interpretation of Tolkien’s work changed my life for the better.