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Old 12-09-2014, 06:59 PM   #1
Aganzir
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Sting The Battle of the 5+ Armies

Legate and I are both writing a review so here's a placeholder. Spoilers ahead.

I counted at least eight different factions - Thorin & company, Dáin and his dwarves, Mirkwood elves, Laketown men, Dol Guldur orcs led by Azog, Gundabad orcs led by Bolg, the eagles, and Beorn (who got about 5 seconds of screentime).
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Old 12-09-2014, 08:05 PM   #2
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Old 12-09-2014, 08:31 PM   #3
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Sting

So. I think Hobbit III: The Battle of the Five Armies was a slightly better adaptation than the first two (mostly because it doesn't introduce as many new crackpot ideas which have no place there). As a film, it wasn't much better though, and I don't think I would've enjoyed it if I hadn't read the book.

I should mention it's 4.30 am and I have work tomorrow, so I haven't proofread this monster of a post. Expect stream of consciousness and bad grammar.

It starts with Smaug wreaking havoc in Laketown. This actually looks quite cool, especially from a distance - they did well with the visuals there. The Master was his lovely slimy self, sailing away with all the gold (even if Bard tried to hang him with an improvised noose) until the dragon got him. Us Song of Ice and Fire fans enjoyed the reference to "waking the dragon".

Bard then proceeded to climb a tower (where a bell was tolling with nobody ringing it) and shot - and missed three arrows and broke his bow, but fortunately his son Bain Dragonbane was at hand with the Black Arrow. This obviously angered the dragon who landed and started doing a monologue ("Who are you to think you can defeat me etc") and crawling gradually closer, which was a very smart thing to do. Bard though, the clever fellow, tied his bowstring to beams and rested the Black Arrow on his son's shoulder. I am amazed a) Bain's face wasn't torn in half by the feathers; b) he maintained his balance and wasn't thrown off by the string when Bard released the arrow straight into the dragon's hollow spot (which he found without the thrush, thank you very much).

And whooosh: the very moment the dragon crash lands in the lake, the ravens start returning to the mountain! Thank Durin!

I think Smaug's death was alright but what I don't understand is, why not do it in the second film rather than giving 10 minutes for it in this on?

We move to Dol Guldur where Gandalf is in a cage. Just when an orc is about to kill him, they zoom on bare female feet which I think we've seen a few times before. Galadriel picks Gandalf up and carries him some way until the Nine assault her, but lo! she is not alone! Elrond and Saruman join the fight and Galadriel brings our sleeping beauty Gandalf back to life with a kiss (a chaste one, on the forehead), and then Radagast rides in with the Rhogobel rabbits ("NO RABBITS NO!" said Nogrod, who was sitting next to me) and takes Gandalf to safety. The Nine reappear, accompanied by a fiery creature that looks very much like the outline of Sauron's armour and says that the time of the elves is over and the time of the orcs has come. Luckily we have Ring-a-dong-Galadriello! She banishes the Necromancer with very Tom Bombadilesque lines, and Saruman concludes that everything is well in the realm again. And here I thought the Three didn't reveal themselves to Sauron!

What I liked about this film was that the dialogue was more canonical than in the first two films. The book quotes were music to my ears. Not just because they were familiar but because they were vastly better than PJ's lines ("Is it peace you will have? Or war?"; "These bats were bred for one purpose - war" etc; for some reason the worst lines were in the trailer!) - we all know he's not at his best portraying anything that happens inside the brain, thinking included.

The dawn after the destruction of Laketown was also done beautifully, I think - the loss was visually there. I found the way Bard assumed command (or rather, was given it) a little awkward but then, you can't have all. Alfrid, the old Master's Mini-Gríma, obviously changed sides to bow to a new lord (and slept through an elf army marching in on his first watch). I liked Bard's talk with Thorin at the gates of Erebor.

Meanwhile (after a sad parting from Kili) Legolas and Tauriel ride double to Mount Gundabad (why?) to observe a gathering of orcs and the afore mentioned bats bred for one purpose. We learn that Legolas's mother died there and Thranduil never got over it! Exciting! We also learn that the orcs have employed "the great earth eaters" which I jokingly said must be were-worms and lo and behold if that isn't exactly what they were!

We hear that Sauron wants the Mountain for its strategic position. Can somebody better educated in the arts of war tell me what good is the Lonely Mountain to any strategy?

There's also this very weird thing going on between Thorin and Bilbo. We know Thorin makes love to everyone with his eyes so Bilbo isn't special (even if our friend said "There's more staring in this film than in the Bold and the Beautiful!"), but Bilbo, what's this? Here are some quotes:
Quote:
Thorin... I...
Quote:
To me, Thorin was... He was... Never mind.
Quote:
(in answer to "Who is this Thorin Oakenshield?" - He was.......... a friend.
Yes Bilbo, if I were in your shoes I'd also be confused about what Thorin meant to me, but what's this queer baiting?

I liked the scene where Bilbo takes the Arkenstone to Bard, Thranduil and Gandalf. The dialogue was fairly canonical, and there were some lovely facial expressions there. Similarly when Thorin hears of Bilbo's betrayal, that was nicely done. Also "Faithless woodland sprite!" is a funny line.

We're now about an hour and a half into the film, and Dáin arrives riding on a pig and the battle commences. He's portrayed as crazy ("crazier than Thorin") but I admit I quite liked the little we saw him (although I'm not sure "These bastards need a good hammering!" is something I expected to hear).

Then the orcs (Azog's forces, that is) arrive unannounced (having their way conveniently eaten for them by the wereworms). The dwarves, bless them, are the first to attack them, and I felt a little surge in my heart watching them get into battle formation. There is something very exhilarating about seeing this army of stout little killer tanks. Dwarves ♥
The elves join the battle - by jumping over the dwarves' backs!

Here it gets a little muddy. The orcs have something akin to siege towers and catapults and they're incredibly well trained and armed, much better than even the Uruk-hai! What I'm wondering though is, why didn't they have any of those mûmak sized trolls in the War of the Ring? Those giant kamikaze trolls that use their head as a battering ram even if it means their death, that is. Again, Bard is a doting father whose main aim is to save his children, to the extent that he rides a cart down very steep steps (causing an exasperated Nogrod to blurt out "Where do all these video game scenes come from!?")

I should mention that all this while, Thorin has been plagued by the dragon sickness and he has been quite mean and distrustful. This is shown in his voice starting to echo like Smaug's. Then good old Dwalin walks up to him and says a few well chosen words about his state of mind. Thorin walks on a golden floor and ponders all this until he realises what a fool he has been (complete with a very trippy scene where he imagines the floor melting and swallowing him up), and when the Company are about to lose their hope, he comes out of a bright light as a Messiah like figure and says they won't let others fight their battle for them.

This is when Bolg's army arrives unless I'm mistaken, and the dwarves charge them in a nice spearhead with Thorin & Company in the van. Dáin and Thorin meet briefly on the battlefield and that's nice. Then Thorin figures the way to end it is to kill Azog, who's positioned on Ravenhill. God knows where he, Dwalin, Fili and Kili find goats, but they do ride goats up the hill. Alas it's a trap, but Thorin doesn't realise it until he's sent Fili and Kili to scout a tower! Bolg(?) holds Fili up for Thorin to see and then stabs him and drops him down straight in front of Kili. Poor Kili. He gets very angry and goes on a killing spree. Now I don't know if this is Bolg or somebody else he's fighting, but Tauriel comes to his aid and then gets in trouble herself. Now Kili comes for her and they take turns in getting battered until the orc who may or may not be Bolg kills Kili. Now this is what I'm very upset about. Kili dies defending Tauriel shield and body. This is not okay (although not hard to guess).

Legolas then takes Bolg down in a prolonged fighting scene where he hitches a ride with a bat, uses pretty much all his weapons, and defies gravity by jumping up falling rocks as if they were stairs.

Back to Ravenhill. Bilbo has used the ring to get there, invisible, and is in fact knocked out by a rock. Meanwhile Thorin fights Azog on thin ice and eventually manages to push him into the icy water (mainly because he was distracted by the eagles who came without Mothrandir or the typical music and who brought Radagast, and Beorn who jumped down and transformed mid-flight only to be shown for two seconds). Here we get what's probably the dumbest scene in the entire film - the pale orc floating under the ice, pretending to die and then pinning Thorin's foot through the ice with his utensil which is now a knife instead of fork and (again defying gravity) jumping up through the ice to kill Thorin, who in turn pierces Azog with his sword. We get a very intimate scene with the two enemies lying on each other and staring at each other longingly (this was your last chance to say "I love you" but you didn't, too bad) until Azog dies and Thorin gets up and walks to the end of the precipice to look at the sun and the eagles before collapsing.
I was hoping against hope they'd retain a shred of canon and let Dáin kill Azog, but in vain.

Bilbo gets up and their last talk is beautiful and similar to the book.

The rest of the dwarves grieve over Thorin's body and Gandalf sits down with Bilbo and is unintentionally comical by consistently failing to light his pipe.

Okay I lied when I said the Floating Orc Under the Ice was the most ridiculous thing. It was this. After the battle Legolas says he can't go back (whatever that means). Thranduil tells him to go north and find the Dúnedain, find a young one they call Strider, whose father was Arathorn, and to find out his true name. Considering Aragorn is 10 years old at the time the Hobbit took place, I find it very curious indeed Thranduil would tell Legolas to seek him out. What's also curious is, he was given the name Strider by the people of Bree. I can but imagine what 10-year-old Aragorn must have done to earn that name, but I'm now sure the first thing he did after being crowned was appointing a Minister of Silly Walks.

Bilbo's departure was rushed and we see nothing about Thorin's burial (or the Arkenstone) or about Dáin becoming King under the Mountain. I expect it will all be in the extended edition because there really is a feeling of something being left out. Weird, considering the film was only two and a half hours. It was sad to see the Company gathered together at the end - my eyes went automatically searching for the hot dwarves before I realised they were dead. They were the main reason I went to see the film in the first place.

Bilbo's return to the Shire and the auction at Bag End was, however, included - even to the extent of him taking his silver spoons back from Lobelia! That was nice.

And then the film cuts straight into the Fellowship of the Ring.

All in all this film didn't disappoint me, mostly because I expected it to be worse and I'd already dealt with the major trauma of the crappiest fanfiction crap in the first two movies. It could've been a good film if PJ hadn't insisted on adding so much of his own stuff, but even as it is, I think it's definitely better than the Desolation and somewhat better than AUJ.

Not looking forward to the 21-hour marathons though, especially as all the more epic stuff happens during the first half.
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Old 12-09-2014, 08:33 PM   #4
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So, where to start? I should probably start by confirming that my expectations for the film were very, very low. You could probably find my reviews of the earlier films somewhere around here, for comparison.

With this one, having seen the trailer before, I expected something very terrible. Generally speaking, it was what I had seen in the trailer, plus a few more things in the same tone. However, during and after the film, I found myself pretty indifferent to all the bad things PJ does and keeps doing all over and over again. If you know what PJ's films are like, you can just shrug off most of the bad things in The Battle of the Five Armies, because I haven't spotted anything unexpected (or even expected) which would be significantly worse than anything we'd seen before.

So with all that, I can quickly skim past: badly handled plot, zero dialogue (reduced to few one-liners, much like in the previous films), ridiculous wannabe-action scenes, and characters also reduced to more or less those one-liners they deliver. These are all PJ's classic fails and they were, of course, present. All the time.

What was surprising? That out of the things listed above, the ridiculous action scenes were actually far better than in the previous films (in the sense that they were less overused and less violent and less self-serving. Maybe that's one of the reasons why this film was so drastically shorter than the others).

Now for more general summary of the plot. I should probably just say first that overall, my image of this film has been quite positive. As in, positive in the context of PJ's creation. And skipping the things mentioned above, which of course form about 80% of the film. So with that said, feel free to read on.

The start and the Dragon. The film started really fast, and I think that was good. I had assumed they have to get rid of the dragon fairly early, but they did it soon and without too much unnecessary buzz, even though of course the obligatory "ha ha ha, you are dead, fool, you cannot kill me" and a bit pathetic family drama had to be present. What was nice was actually the inclusion of Bard's children into the plot, even though of course it's the cheapest thing in Hollywood to put in a cute little kid and a bit of family drama. Despite that I think this was done well.
So, unexpected surprise: Unnecessary filling 90% less than in usual Peter Jackson. Inclusion of minor characters actually doing something.

Then we follow with the somewhat chaotic heap of happenings aka the main plot pre-Battle, which essentially doesn't stop until the end of the film. "We must find the Arkenstone and Thorin is being weird." "The Orcs are coming and nobody knows about it." "The Men are coming." "Tauriel and Legolas are going somewhere for unknown reasons." "The Orcs are coming and somebody knows about it." "We still haven't found the Arkenstone, but Bilbo remembers he actually has it and reminds the audience why. Thorin is still weird." "Gandalf is still in Dol Guldur." "The Orcs are coming and for example Legolas knows about it, but he's in Angmar. Why?" "The Elves are coming." "The Dwarves are still looking for the Arkenstone and Thorin is probably evil." This goes mostly for the 80% of bad dialogue, bad plot etc. that I mentioned above.

The Arkenstone subplot (and, in fact, the whole "Thorin's greed" arc) was actually one of the worst things in the whole film, because it did not make any sense at all. Quite bad given that it was the main plot of the film.
Let's see: At first, Thorin wants the Arkenstone and Bilbo keeps it hidden because he's afraid it would make things only worse. Thorin's state keeps getting worse even without it, while Bilbo gets a confirmation that giving the Arkenstone to Thorin would really make things even worse. So what he does is to give the Arkenstone to Bard with the intent that he would give it back to Thorin. The funniest part is, that that is the last moment we see the Arkenstone. Why? I can understand, for example, at least adding final scene with Thorin's tomb and Arkenstone on it would prove confusing given how the Arkenstone was presented in the film, but still - the first half of the film is about the Arkenstone and then it just disappears? Especially since in the first film, we already had the flashback to Thrór/Thráin, which made it clear that the Arkenstone is important, and made it seem like that it's something akin to the Rings of Power in its both positive and negative influence.
It seems to me as if the creators couldn't decide whether the cause of the "Dragon-sickness" is actually the whole heap of gold or the Arkenstone (aka "small Ring"). It makes for a very illogical development of the whole issue of Thorin's downfall.

Then The Battle itself. There isn't so much to say. Seen that before, mostly in Helm's Deep (Elves, namely Wood-Elves, shouldn't fight like an army of robots, but we did see that coming, didn't we). But the battle scenes, despite some being silly and the battle being rather illogical, were decent. I would highlight the realistic "command post"-signaling of the Orcs. And I would highlight Fili's death, that was so horrible and sad (from the point of view of Bilbo and the rest of the Dwarves, especially his brother), that actually made me remain silent for a few minutes.
I would of course diss the nonsensical things. The reinforcements straight from Frank Herbert's Dune. Azog's impractical homemade flail. Building and breaking stone-bridges, ice-bridges, stone-barricades and other barricades.
One more honorable mention: Super Mario... I mean Legolas. I actually started to like his stunts. For pure amusement value, it's so absurd that you have to enjoy it. Before the film, we actually made predictions and I said: "Do you seriously think Legolas will trump his stunts from LotR? What can he possibly do better than surfing on a shield and climbing oliphaunts? Will he start climbing bats?" Bingo.

The closing had some of the best scenes in the whole film. Basically after the battle ended, except for the scenes with the Elves, everything was nice. Gandalf and Bilbo sharing a smoke, for example, I much prefer it to LotR's Hobbits jumping on beds. What also pleasantly surprised me was no "fake endings" akin to RotK, that's probably why this film was so short.

Things I should mention, but which don't really belong to any cathegory? Definitely Thorin's psychedelic vision of a golden trampoline, I seriously don't know what to think of it.
I am sure somebody else will mention this, but a big surprise was no more Bombur jokes in the whole film. So peculiar.

So what was unforgivable?
Mirroring Tauriel's tale to that of Arwen. Maybe I am too slow, I got it only in the last scene that it was probably meant to be all about that. One loved a mortal Man, another a mortal Dwarf, both shared this tragedy, oh how sad. Nothing against tragedy of the Elves, but loving a Dwarf... I don't feel I need to mention anything more about the whole "romantic subplot". I am sure others will do it for me. Sufficient to say, in the second film, I had hoped it was a semi-nonserious platonic nonsense. Apparently, not at all.
P.S. I am curious how many of the audience originally assumed Tauriel to have died in the battle. I did until I saw her alive and well all of a sudden.

And one more thing I had almost forgotten - what in the name of Arien happened to the well-known physical weakness of trolls, turning into stone in sunlight?

Things I liked which were faithful to the books? There were several (of course not too many), but I will point out those I liked the most:

Dáin's speech to the Elves was in spirit straight from the book, even though it had to be said aloud literally, in the book the narrator provides the ingenuity of Dwarven diplomacy. But I approved of handling that small bit that way.

The auction. 150% approval. Merely including it was really lovely, and including it on such a scale (a whole, quite long scene in terms of all) was even better, and incorporating Bilbo's rememberance of Thorin into it (an original input by the filmmakers) was really a good thing to do. (Incorporating Lobelia's spoons was a bit of the easy-to-do fan service, but appreciated nonetheless.)

And I will mention the White Council's appearance in Dol Guldur, despite... its visual... and other... sillyness, it's one of my favourite events in the Middle-Earth history, and I have deep personal liking of it and my own ideas of what might have happened there, which no visualisation can match, but I was nonetheless happy to see the White Councillors "in their full power". Despite the fact that I deeply dislike green Galadriel with computer-altered voice, but her epic appearance (as well as that of the other members) was not overshadowed even by the shadows in psychedelic shroud of the Eye.

Edit: This has been my 6,666th post. I wonder if that's supposed to stand for something.
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Old 12-09-2014, 09:10 PM   #5
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We move to Dol Guldur where Gandalf is in a cage. Just when an orc is about to kill him, they zoom on bare female feet which I think we've seen a few times before. Galadriel picks Gandalf up and carries him some way until the Nine assault her, but lo! she is not alone! Elrond and Saruman join the fight and Galadriel brings our sleeping beauty Gandalf back to life with a kiss (a chaste one, on the forehead), and then Radagast rides in with the Rhogobel rabbits ("NO RABBITS NO!" said Nogrod, who was sitting next to me) and takes Gandalf to safety. The Nine reappear, accompanied by a fiery creature that looks very much like the outline of Sauron's armour and says that the time of the elves is over and the time of the orcs has come. Luckily we have Ring-a-dong-Galadriello! She banishes the Necromancer with very Tom Bombadilesque lines, and Saruman concludes that everything is well in the realm again. And here I thought the Three didn't reveal themselves to Sauron!
This alone made me wish your review, Legate, was actually a wicked piece of satire. I do thank you for subjecting yourself to that, and sparing me from A. Having to watch it, and B. Having to contribute to Mr. Jackson's own dragon-pile of gold for the "experience".

All this, and two other films, to cover a book that in my paperback clocks in at a paltry 365 pages, and still manages to be a great story that has stood the test of time for well over half a century.
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Old 12-09-2014, 09:17 PM   #6
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What if instead of the White Council beating up the Necromancer, it was Tom Bombadil himself? That would be a great way to break the character and annoy the hell out of every fan. I can see PJ sitting on his golden throne, laughing at us.
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Old 12-09-2014, 09:23 PM   #7
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So Tauriel doesn't die? Will she be in a super extended edition of LotR?
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Old 12-09-2014, 09:27 PM   #8
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So Tauriel doesn't die? Will she be in a super extended edition of LotR?
Indeed she doesn't! The last we see of him is when she cries by Kili's corpse and says to Thranduil: "If this is love, I don't want it. Please, take it away from me!" He, having earlier questioned their love, tells her it hurts so badly because it was true love. No idea what happens to her afterwards, which I'm not very happy about because she had potential to be something else than a mere love interest.
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Old 12-09-2014, 10:35 PM   #9
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Yes Bilbo, if I were in your shoes I'd also be confused about what Thorin meant to me, but what's this queer baiting?
Martin Freeman is just a little bit confused:



Or, even better:



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Indeed she doesn't!
What! No way!
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Old 12-09-2014, 11:19 PM   #10
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