And with this final installment of The Hobbit, it strikes me most interestingly how similar Peter Jackson's prequels-to-a-masterpiece are to George Lucas's. The only significant difference is that Jackson had a much bigger budget at his disposal. But I did manage to put aside the mental image of PJ rolling in his oodles of cash and giggling, and enjoyed this final Middle-Earth movie for what it was.
|Sometimes it was beautiful.|
Legolas, Captain of the Obvious and Ridiculous (Orlando Bloom) gets to one-up his Lord of the Rings era antics several times, like when he rides a giant bat in a scene straight out of Peter Jackson's King Kong. (He figured we'd all slept through that moment or forgotten it by now, but I remember!) "These bats were bred for a single purpose: so I can be awesome at no creative expense of the director!" But that was nothing compared to his fight with Bolg and how hard I laughed when Legsie lightly springs off stones as they fall, jumping to safety, and ignoring those pesky laws of physics.
|"What are we doing here, Legolas?" "I'm not sure... making sure this movie really, really long, I guess." "Cool." "Let's be dramatic for a second and then head back to the action."|
But at least Captain Obvious wasn't annoying. I spent the whole movie tolerating the scenes that Alfrid hijacks on the confidence that he would get his just deserts before then end. And does he? No -- so why again was he taking up all my beloved characters' screen time?
|Why Tolkien, why?|
And secondly, the death of The Dragon. (The Magnificent Benedict Cumberbatch) As you know, I had high hopes for this scene. It is my absolute favorite part of the book -- Bard, a regular man, takes his last arrow, a regular arrow, and with knowledge of the dragon's weakness fires that regular arrow from his regular, trusty bow, and it finds its mark and sinks in, "barb, shaft, and feather." And the Great and Terrible Smaug is brought down by such a little thing because of his carelessness, vanity, and pride. PJ's version becomes overly complicated for no clear reason, and all but destroys the power of the moment. Still, after the arrow sinks in (not all the way, I noticed with disappointment) the rest of the scene was exactly as it should have been, and therefore great.
|I did like that they gave Smaug some more dialogue. He can have all the dialogue he wants!|
In the realm of characters, the most compelling was the King Under the Mountain himself Thorin. The madness of King Thorin was a thing to behold, and handled well from all aspects. Richard Armitage really was, and proved himself to be a great choice for the king, from his distinctive voice to his expressive eyes and perfect nose, to his remarkable ability to be so convincingly violent, and then equally convincingly kind and affectionate.
|On a totally different note, I suddenly feel a need to watch North and South...|
Next, our hero Bilbo Baggins. And I will only ever have praise for Martin Freeman's iconic performance as the iconic Hobbit, but this film doesn't give him as much to do as the previous two. Still, obviously, what he does do never fails to add continuous sparks of life to a film that often borders on boring from being so drawn out. I loved his dilemma over the Arkenstone, and how all that played out so similarly to the book. The conflict between him and Thorin was probably the best thing about this movie, from the very beginning through Thorin's death scene, their relationship was nothing but quality.
|The scene of Thorin gifting the Mithril mail to Bilbo was just perfect.|
And then there's Bard, (Luke Evans) my favorite side character, and after he kills Smaug his role is only just beginning. Even though in the book he was in a position of power from the first, this Bard's transition from Bard the Bargeman, to Bard the Bowman, to Bard the Leader, and a man who can hold his own while counseling with a wizard and an elf king is as natural and believable as anything, because that's simply who the character is. He did rather disappear into the confusion of the climax though, which was too bad, and the plot line about he and the Lake Town people getting their money was left hanging.
|Bard the Negotiator.|
|He's also the most fabulous elf-king in all of Middle-Earth!|
All the dwarves besides Kili and Thorin are basically left alone for this movie, and as always, I wish some of the pointless action sequences had been traded in for more character for those on the sidelines. Fili and Balin (Ken Scott) get their tiny bit, and Dwalin (Graham McTavish) gets his second to show of fighting skills, but my favorite, Bofur (James Nesbitt), who actually had a part in the last movie is forgotten, along with Bifur (William Kircher), Bombur (Stephen Hunter), Dori (Mark Hadlow), Nori (Jed Brophy), Ori (Adam Brown), Oin (John Callen), and Gloin (Peter Hambleton).
|And Bofur if that guy who hides behind someone's head in the group picture...|
The dwarf king Dain Ironfoot (Billy Connolly) was a short but fun addition to the dwarf ranks though. I loved how Scottish he was, and how his beard looked like tusks. His ride -- well, I won't go there. Late-to-the-party Beorn was a sight for sore eyes, but his appearance was turned mostly to an excuse to see him turn into a bear whilst falling from the sky, which was quite a sight I admit, but seconds after he lands, we never see him again. As for Gandalf (Ian McKellen), the members of the White Council, and their adventures; Sauron was cool, because his name is Cumberbatch, as were the Nine, but overall nothing happened, and that plot line was useless.
|Interestingly, I actually started liking Azog (Manu Bennett) in this one. Perhaps because this is where he finally fits in and has a part to play.|
On the technical side it is definitely worth commending the CGI quality which was disappointing in An Unexpected Journey, but wasn't noticeably bad here, and therefore must have been good. Or maybe I got used to it. The cinematography was occasionally nice to look at, (like in the scene of parley between Thorin and Bard, which was great and a great scene besides) but more often, it looked tired, which makes sense. The directing and writing was tired as well -- there was a lot that was a bit too familiar. In the score's case though, the familiarity was a pleasant quality. I still love the Bard and the Lake Town themes, and enjoyed the variations on those, and a few others. And then of course there was Billy Boyd's song played in the credits, and it was fitting and lovely.
And so, I bid The Hobbit a very fond farewell. And I was fond of these new films -- mainly the wonderful, endearing, magnificent characters that populated them -- but the fondness of this goodbye is more out of my sentiment than a reluctance to see them leave.