The third installment of ‘The Hobbit’ has been out in the theatres for a few weeks now and if you are a fan of the previous five movies you will of course have already seen ‘The Battle Of The Five Armies’. A movie critic’s purpose is to criticize, rarely extol positives, and when we are not foisting our own opinions on the reader, it is given to us to sit upon our high horses and rate and pass judgment on said movies. Yes, we dare to profess to know and understand that despite an individuals tastes and preferences, we KNOW what is best for you. Not. So why read or be influenced in any way by what I have to say?
Because I see the world through a glass strangely and choose a path lest scribed upon as I set forth my scribbley viewpoint.
In truth I would go to a theatre to watch Bilbo or Frodo, even if it was to see two to three hours of the Baggins of Bag End grunting as they sat in a Hobbit outhouse doing naught but passing middle-earth gas. I LOVED the first Tolkien book, “The Hobbit”, and the LOTR trilogy that followed, and was thrilled at the cinematic renderings. However, with ‘The Hobbit’, I was stunned and amazed at the length the movie studios would pursue to quench their unquenchable thirst in pursuit of making hundreds of millions, nay, make that BILLIONS of dollars. To whit: Peter Jackson and his minions have deftly, cleverly, (and satisfactorily) turned this relatively small novel into not one or two, but three lengthy (by anyone’s definition) epic movies.
Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the liberties taken to extend my viewing pleasure to such eye-popping extremes, even though J.R. himself would little recognize most of the story as depicted in ‘The Battle Of The Five Armies’. On the plus side, I found some of dialogue and embellished story line as creatively interesting as I found some of the newly created characters in round three of “Let’s Make A Billion!” totally fascinating.
Evangeline Lilly, someone I had never heard of, is the beautiful young actress who plays the elf warrior maiden Tauriel. It is not often I am smitten with arduous lascivious thoughts, but Tauriel really succeeded in stoking the waning embers of my dotage years into a burnin’ yearnin’ bonfire.
The biggest surprise of the movie was the re-introduction of one of the most colorful characters in all dwarfdom, Dain, dwarf cousin of Thoren Oakenshield. He pops up unexpectantly as the leader of one of the five armies. The dwarf who slays for pleasure has come to the aid of his fellow shorties, determined to fight in defense of their ancestral mountain home. Dain, the bloodthirsty jovial dwarf is played by Billy Connolly, a true living national treasure of Scotland and one of the funniest men alive. Many years ago I saw Billy perform live at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver and his show was so hilarious… I laughed my baguettes off and have since sought out and enjoyed every movie (over 50 and counting) in which the mad Glaswegian has ever appeared.
Hide him behind an absolutely crazy wig and a braided beard, and you can still recognize the irascible Celt by the mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Ah… and when he opens his mouth, let the chortles and the belly rumbling peals of yucknosity begin. For me, Billy Connolly alone was worth the price of admission.
Normally any two and a half hour movie would find me squirming in my seat with a numb bum, impatiently waiting for the slow bits, like the gaseous burps after chugging a Coke, to pass. Not so with the third installment of The Hobbit.
True, if you took out the battle scenes, the movie would be stripped of 90% of it’s content. BUT, through the ever-improving technology of CGA the creatures and the fight sequences are so real life and believable, Peter Jackson’s evil Tolkienesque creatures make Bela Lugosi’s Dracula look like Bozo The Clown and the plundering and mayhem of the thundering hordes render Cecil B. DeMille’s biblical conflicts by comparison to a pale collection of transparent celluloid overlays.
Sadly in this final installment of ‘There And Back Again’ Bilbo Baggins takes a back seat to the other protagonists. And, sadly, of all the priceless characters brought to life in the previous five cine-magical yarns I really missed the absence of Smeagal, the loveable, hate-able little creature played by Andy Sirkus.
I give The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies 4 out of 5 stars. ( A rating of 80% pleasure) and good enough for you, like me, to run out and buy the DVD as soon as it is released. Then you can also buy, a few months later, the extended version of the movie, and later yet, a complete boxed set of ALL the Middle Earth movies! At which time you will come to realize that these movies have sucked your wallet cleaner than Mr. Creosote’s dinner plate in Monte Python’s ‘The Meaning Of Life.”
On the little finger of my right hand I wear a gold copy of the one ring, The Lord Of The Rings, given me many years ago as a Christmas gift, by my beautiful wife. I know its inscription by heart. There is not a day that goes by when I do not look upon it and think of J.R.R. Tolkien and the wonderful gift of story telling he gave to the world.
Happy New Year to everyone! May 2015 be full of good entertainment. Good movies, good books, good DVDs, good music, and rarest of all… good television.