Sunday, 14 August 2016

Roddy Reviews - The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Hey everyone, and welcome back to Roddy Reviews, as we round off the Hobbit trilogy with, in my opinion, the worst film out of the three. Whilst the other two had good moments which outweigh the bad, this one was just boring throughout the second half. There's a specific point where it goes downhill, but I'll talk about that in the spoiler section.

This one is the perfect example as to why the trilogy should have been made into two films instead; there is so much in there just to try and carry the film for another hour, and my god does it make it boring. The first half is really good, especially with Smaug, but the second half is just a downwards spiral. I suppose that's what happens when you try to turn a few pages of the book into an hour-long sequence for the film. 

Whilst it isn't terrible, it's got some downright awful and insulting moments in there, but still just enough good things to get it over the 5/10 mark. Even if only barely. It's definitely a big step backwards from the other two, with more bad moments and less good moments.

 Again though, the Extended Edition has just enough changes to get it a higher rating. It adds more fun action scenes, explains a plot hole, and gives us more of the good stuff.

 Anyway, time to get into the spoiler section, so skip to the bottom if you just want the rating. 

So eeeeeepic!
The film starts almost directly after we left off; with Smaug heading to Laketown to unleash pure hell. And that's exactly what he does. We get a full epic 5-10 minutes of Smaug obliterating the crap out of this place. Good riddance I say. Of course, Bard breaks out of prison in a rather...convenient way. If anything had been different, like the master's direction or timing, then Bard would've failed. Nitpicks though. We get more extended edition changes straight away too. Not much, but I'm happy with anything that increases the time we get with the decimation of Smaug. So Bard fights his way up to the Bell-tower and starts shooting Smaug. Of course, the arrows have no effect as Smaug continues destroying everything. Then Bain, Bard's son, shows up with the blackarrow he hid (honestly I can't even remember if the blackarrows were in the book, so I'm just going to go along with it) and kill as
much time as possible until Smaug's weakspot is eventually exposed. They then take the shot and hit their mark, and Smaug goes flying around, screaming and writhing in a slightly undignified way, and eventually falls down, killing the Master in doing so.

We then get a brief cut to Gandalf in Dol Guldur, now a prisoner there, as he hears Galadriel's voice in his head. This scene literally lasts about 20 seconds, so it doesn't really serve much purpose.

I know this is from the second film.
We then see Azog, riding his white warg again (which soon disappears, never to be seen again by the way) along with an army of orcs. And I just have to say, this army of orcs is tiny. I understand that the Battle of the Five Armies was nowhere near the scale of Helm's Deep or the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, but come on. That's what will defeat the combined strength of Elves, Men and Dwarves? Really? I guess Azog realised this too, as he sends Bolg up to Gundabad to awaken yet another orc army. Keep in mind, Gundabad is near Angmar, so it's strange that he managed to get over there and back in about two days.

Actually, no, I need to talk about that whole Bolg thing a bit more, since Legolas and Tauriel also head that way. Basically, here's where they would have had to go to get to Gundabad. 
Yeah. Pretty damn far. Especially since it really doesn't take them very long to get there
and back.

Back to Laketown, now the next morning, and everything is in ruins. The people are in pretty poor condition, their town has just been incinerated, and they're all a bit cranky. Understandably so. Bard then shows up, an old guy proclaims he saw Bard kill Smaug (how, by the way? Everywhere around Bard was kind of burnt down and I'm sure nobody would have stuck around to see if anyone happened to kill Smaug with a blackarrow). Everyone takes his word for it as they make Bard their next leader. Side-note; I really like Bard in these films. He's pretty much just how I envisioned him in the book. He's a good leader, but
Kili gives Tauriel his rune
which was his promise he'd
come home. Subtle movie.
he's also modest. I didn't like Alfrid though. He wasn't insulting to the point of Jar Jar Binks but his sole purpose was for quick, cheap laughs that nobody truly finds funny. Anyway, everybody goes their separate ways as Fili, Kili, Oin and Bofur head off to the Lonely Mountain. This of course means Kili and Tauriel get another 'touching' scene where Kili literally says he loves her (in Dwarvish). You already know where I stand on the 'Kiliel' thing; it's terrible, insulting and extremely hard to watch. Legolas then takes Tauriel up to Gundabad. Not entirely sure why Legolas decided to head up there, but I guess he thought it would be important?

We now return to Gandalf at Dol Guldur, which is actually one of the best parts of the film. We see the White Council; Saruman, Galadriel, Radagast, Elrond and Gandalf all working together to fight back the Nazgul and banish Sauron back to Mordor. And yes, that's exactly what happened. Gandalf even mentions it in the book, although he refers to Sauron as the Necromancer. It's a pretty intense scene as Galadriel is pushed to the limit in her attempts at banishing Sauron
Bye Sauron! See you in 60
whilst Saruman and Elrond fight off the Nazgul. I also like the way the Nazgul looked in this one; they look far better than those white kings in An Unexpected Journey and the Fellowship of the Ring. Not the robed ones, those are what you think of when you think Nazgul, but the white kings. I never liked the look of those. Radagast then rescues Gandalf and takes him to his home in Greenwood, where, in the Extended Edition, there's a rather heartwarming scene where Radagast gives Gandalf his staff. This is exactly the same staff that Gandalf uses in Fellowship, so it was nice seeing how he gets it. 

Fili, Kili, Oin and Bofur then arrive at the Lonely Mountain where they find everybody still alive, but Thorin's pretty much possessed by his newfound love of the gold there. It's where we spend a lot of the half, and they do a few nice touches in which it's implied that he's becoming similar to Smaug, for example saying the same things Smaug said. Bit of a coincidence but still, it's cool. It turns out that Bilbo stole the arkenstone (the king's jewel), the item that Thorin is currently making everyone slave away to find. Also, if you pay enough attention, you'll notice the heaps of gold look less real in this film. In the second one, they looked more dull and realistic, but in this one they're way too shiny and look more CGI. Minor nitpick though. Thorin and Bilbo also get a nice heartwarming scene about the acorn, which pretty much shows how Thorin, despite becoming an arsehole, still finds the innocence of hobbits too adorable to stay an arsehole. Then, Dwalin walks in and says that survivors from Laketown are streaming into Dale. I really enjoy the Thorin moments in this bit, really good acting from Richard Armitage. His facial expression when he sees Dale lit up shows how paranoid he's becoming and even panics slightly.

And over to Dale. Bard and the survivors of Laketown, now settled in Dale, find themselves allied with the Elves of Mirkwood. Just like that. No buildup, they're just there. I understand that news of the death of Smaug would travel quickly, but seriously? That goddamn quickly? Oh well, anyways, Thranduil talks about how he's willing to go to war (and attempts to justify it) because of the heirlooms of his people. Because, motivation eh. But Bard, being the accurately-written noble man he is, offers to try and talk Thorin out of being a complete utter twat about everything. So Bard meets Thorin and the two try and talk
Ok. This awkward slide
isn't exactly how I
imagined it ending. 
things out, and of course this doesn't go very well. This is actually one of my favourite parts of the film; Bard is clearly in the right, making several valid points throughout the argument, and you see Thorin knows it despite his rebuttals, but he's just too damn stubborn to do anything. I dunno, it's just exactly how I imagined it. Anyway, the argument completely fails and Bard goes back to Dale empty-handed. Thranduil scoffs at this (again, Lee Pace's iffy snobby Thranduil. There's just something about him I don't like) and says they'll attack at dawn. 

We then cut to montages (yes, montages. Those are still a thing sadly) of both sides preparing for all-out war against each other. Afterwards, we see Thorin giving Bilbo his mithril shirt in a scene which really solidifies their friendship. You genuinely feel like they trust each other. We then get Thorin acting a bit weirdly, showing how his paranoia has driven him to even doubt his other friends and accuse them of stealing the Arkenstone. He says the same stuff as Smaug again, in case we didn't realise they were becoming similar (yes, sarcasm. The metaphors were largely overdone) in an unnecessarily heavy scene with each Dwarf marching in slow-mo. 

Aaand cut to Gundabad, which in fairness does look pretty cool. As you can tell with the jumping around though, the editing is a bit choppy in this film, and it stays that way. We're also only there for a brief filler and some exposition, so we don't ask 'where did those orcs come from?' when they show up and ultimately serve nothing. Honestly, why did the Gundabad army even exist? It serves nothing to the story; they don't show up until the very end of the battle, and even then they just get annihilated by the Eagles. Although, it acts as a scene where Legolas tells Tauriel about his mother dying here, I guess to add more conflict into their love triangle? Ugh. I hate Tauriel.

Back to Dale again(?) as we see Gandalf arrive and warn Thranduil and Bard about the orc army about to attack the next morning though. And being the unbiased wizard he is, Thranduil just assumes he's full of BS and just says "Nah there ain't no orcs" in a snobbier way. I swear, by the end of this review I will nail down what I didn't like about Lee Pace as Thranduil. It's just..ugh, I don't know yet.

Night then falls as we cut back to the Lonely Mountain. In the Extended Edition, we get a nice heartwarming scene between Bofur and Bilbo (much like their scene in the Misty Mountains. Love Bofur) and then resume the main version. Bilbo decides to take a trip to Dale, where he meets with Gandalf, Bard and Thranduil and shows them that he in fact has the Arkenstone. Love this scene.
Lee Pace's dry attitude actually allows for a bit of humour, and Bilbo acts exactly how he did in the book; innocent and always trying to help his friends. Although, at this point, Bilbo's overshadowing by Thorin is beginning to grow. It fully comes into fruition once the battle starts, but more on that later. This scene itself though was really well-done and I enjoyed it. Yes, even the Alfrid part was good

Anyway, tensions are rising the next morning as the Dwarves, with Bilbo now back at the Lonely Mountain, prepare for the war that Bilbo reckons they'll lose. The Elves and Men are now seen in all their glory (despite the army looking a bit small) outside the Mountain as Bard tries to reason with Thorin one last time. Now comes my favourite scene of the film. Bard takes out the Arkenstone and tries to use it to barter for their portion of the gold, which you know he will give it back, because Bard's an honourable guy, and Thorin completely starts to lose it,
Such a good scene.
getting angry beyond measure. The Extended Edition also has Thranduil taunting Thorin, suggesting for Bard to sell the stone to Ecthelion of Gondor (nice touch with the lore accuracy by the way) as Thorin paces back and forth, clearly unsure of what to do. Bilbo then comes forward saying he gave them the Arkenstone, resulting in Thorin going absolutely mad and even tries to make the other Dwarves throw him off the ramparts. It actually gave me chills the first time I watched it; the Dwarves have grown to like Bilbo so much that they're even willing to disobey their king so they don't have to hurt him. The acting and editing in this scene was perfect

The CGI isn't that great.
However, the next scene is the point of the film where it all starts to go downhill and results in an hour of boredom, for the most part. King Dain arrives, played by a CGI Billy Connolly. Now, don't get me wrong, I completely understand why they couldn't have Billy himself there; Parkinson's made it too difficult. But instead of having him voice his lines and making him CGI, why not just have him say the lines and have a lookalike actor on set? Or even just someone dressed in dwarf prosthetics? It doesn't make any sense to me, and while the character himself is fun, he's somewhat jarring to look at, especially around the other characters. He's not terrible though, just takes you out of the film slightly. Again, not Connolly's fault, he was great, it's just studio laziness.

This tactic isn't very clever though.
The pikes are just gonna ram through
So the Dwarves and Elves have their standoff for a couple of minutes, and in the Extended Edition...they fight. Yep. The Dwarves and Elves actually fight. This is both better and worse than the theatrical; it's more action but makes the Orcs look even more stupid because they attack after they've started fighting! Why wouldn't you just wait for them to finish each other off! Anyway, the Orcs start coming out of the hills using Were-worms (which they could have used to obliterate everyone) and the Dwarves, Elves and Men go to fight them off in a pretty well-choreographed fight sequence. I do like how it shows the different tactics each race uses. But then...nothing new happens for ages. It's just them fighting and trying to get control of each area. They try and make it interesting with some silly Orc tactics (like that troll with the rock on its head) but they just make it more goofy and no less boring. I'm not going to go into it scene by scene, because we'd be here all day; it's constantly going back and forth, and it's just filled with mindless sword-fighting and obvious CGI. Gandalf and Bilbo disappear until the end of the battle too, and sort of just spectate it. Not great when one of those is supposed to be the main character.

So eventually, after some 20-30 minutes of fighting, more forced Alfrid jokes, and Bard being unnecessarily inspiring, something actually happens as Thorin, after giving a death threat to Dwalin (and Dwalin actually teared up. Pretty emotional that) goes to be alone and reflect on what he's turning into. In a pretty obvious metaphor, he has a vision that the gold literally swallows him, showing how he's essentially being swallowed by his love for gold. Again, it's too obvious, although I appreciate how they tried it. The dramatic music and visions then suddenly stop as he throws off his crown, ending the scene on a subtle yet meaningful note.

Lol no.

Of course we need to have an overdramatic close-up with some wind that wouldn't exist there. Ugh, wasted opportunity right there, film. 

So Thorin, after having now realised what an idiot he's been, goes back over to the Dwarves and Kili goes on a rant to him and Thorin comforts him, saying that their family won't hide from a fight, whilst Fili...says and does nothing. Seriously, they give way too much screentime to Kili and not enough time to Fili. Especially since Fili's the older one and, y'know, meant to be King next. So the Dwarves outside are all surrounded and being pushed up against the gate, nearly defeated, when 13 Dwarves run out to save the day. Seriously, how did
To the King! 
an extra 13 make much of a difference? I get that they're rallying to Thorin, but they then manage to overpower the Orcs that are surrounding them. I dunno, it's weird. Anyway the scene itself is awesome with an epic soundtrack playing in the background.

So we get another 10 minutes of fighting, more forced Alfrid humour, and all that crap, until Gandalf and Bilbo (who seem to be our commentators now) notice Thorin is taking Fili, Kili and Dwalin on goats(?) up to Ravenhill to kill Azog. In the theatrical version, the goats come out of nowhere but in the extended edition, its shown that Dain first showed up with a bunch of goat-riders, so yeah, plot hole explained. The extended edition also gives us more fun action (not just mindless fighting, actual fun) including Bombur actually speaking and how the Dwarves got up to Ravenhill. Oh and, Alfrid gets killed off. Yep. He hides in a catapult and gets launched into a troll's mouth. To be fair though, how else was he going to get killed off? I'm just glad he's gone.

Ravenhill, though, is definitely the lowest point of the film. Sure, it has good moments, but it just drags so much and goes on for way too long, and you just want it to finish but it keeps going. And it doesn't help that this is where Tauriel and Legolas show up, because we really wanted more of them, right? Anyway, Legolas tells Gandalf about the Gundabad army and Bilbo heads up to warn Thorin that its a trap. We also get a scene between Thranduil, who's pretty much fed up of having his Elves killed off, and Tauriel. He then tells her that her love for Kili isn't real, and he is absolutely correct. I love how ironic it is; you're meant to be on Tauriel's side but I'm actually on Thranduil's here. Kill her off! Kill her off! Sadly Legolas has to be a hero and love triangle blah blah blah. Also, that feeling about Thranduil is still there in the back of my head. I agreed with him here, and he was right, but there's still something iffy about him. I'm sure I'll find out what it is eventually.

Bilbo arrives at Ravenhill to warn Thorin too late though, because we get our first major death: Fili dies. And it is by far the saddest, and I hate how it was overshadowed by the melodrama of Kili's death. I just hate how little screentime and focus Fili gets; it seems like nobody really cares about his death anyway. Sadly, Fili didn't even get the classic warrior's death; in fact he died in one of the most tragically undignified hero deaths possible. He was stabbed in the back and thrown down a cliff. This makes Kili extremely angry though, as he goes on a killing spree of more Orcs. Like we haven't seen enough of that already. Thorin also runs off, where he engages Azog in what's supposed to be an epic final battle. Instead we get a pretty boring fight, good at first though, which goes on for way too long. 

Kili and Tauriel also reunite, with their own boss battle; Bolg. I'm not sure what to think of Bolg here. On the one hand he was supposed to be killed by Beorn, and that would've been awesome to see, but on the other hand he killed Kili. He has an endless amount of respect from me for his act of kindness. Kili's death is also drawn out for way too long and they keep acting like it won't happen, but
we all know it will and we're all rooting for it to happen. Eventually, after 5 minutes of fake-outs, the sword goes through Kili and all is well in Middle-Earth once again

By this point, you can tell they're just making the fight go on for as long as they can to increase the running-time; Thorin's fight with Azog is just plain crap. It's slow, they fake out Azog's death for some reason and let him hold his breath for an endless amount of time, it's just boring. While this is going down, Legolas takes it upon himself to fight Bolg after Tauriel decided to cry in a corner about her 'tragic lost love' who she clearly would have wanted to die for, and decides to be completely and
You all knew this would be
in here.
utterly useless for the rest of the film. So we get the Legolas vs Bolg fight and....meh. It's got some pretty terrible moments in there. You all know what part I'm talking about; the part where Legolas goes full Mario and completely breaks physics. Other than that part, it's a perfectly adequate fight scene which gives some closure to their rivalry seen in the last film. Definitely would have preferred to see Beorn wiping the floor with Bolg though, but oh well, you can't have everything.

Anyway, Legolas eventually kills Bolg, and we cut back to Thorin fighting Azog which is still going. Although, the ending to it is pretty satisfactory; they both kill each other in the end. It brings their whole nemesis arc thing to a nice rounded off close. That and the beginning of the fight are the only good parts though. Anyway, as their fight is starting to come to a close, Thorin sees the Gundabad army approaching, which would definitely mean they're all doomed. But what happens when our heroes are in an inescapable danger

That's right baby. The eagles are coming! And the CGI on them is actually good in this film! And what's even better, Beorn shows up as he dive-bombs off one of the eagles and starts wiping the floor with some orcs. That's the Beorn I've been wanting to see! The extended edition also has an extra 10-15 seconds of Beorn, so the more the merrier. 

Ah man, the feels.
Anyway, Thorin and Azog's fight finally comes to an end as the two stab each other with Thorin dying more slowly. Bilbo finds Thorin laying down as the two share a genuinely sad and touching last moment together as they both make up from earlier and become best buddies again, as Thorin then slips away. Now that's how you do an emotional death. You don't need forced drama and slow-mo like Kili, you just need two friends who you genuinely believe are friends and leave them to it. 

Cut over to Tauriel, still mourning over Kili as she gets out the rune that he gave to her. Sorry but that whole rune thing was so bloody obvious that it'd be used just to force in a sad story about Kili that he never gave it back to his mother. Shame on you Pete, shame on you! We also get a nice father/son moment between Thranduil and Legolas, where Thranduil shows that he actually does care about and love Legolas, which was kind of a subplot. He sends Legolas off to find Strider in the North, and I'm not sure how lore accurate this is, as I don't know if Legolas and Aragorn actually had any history together. Oh well, it's a good scene that ties it into Lotr. Also, side note: everyone hates how Legolas is more aggressive and feisty in the Hobbit films than the Lotr ones, and I understand why. I mean the studio's official excuse was that Legolas is younger here. Younger. He's 60 years younger! That's nothing to an Elf! I do have my own theory though; maybe Aragorn, who would also be going through his training at this point, reflected what he was taught onto Legolas and ultimately taught him to be more level-headed. Huh? Huh? Good eh? 

Oh yeah, and speaking of Lotr inconsistencies, lots of people think that there's a plot hole with Gandalf. If he met Sauron in Dol Guldur, why would he have to research him? I'll get to that in my Fellowship of the Ring review though.

Again though, as nice as the scene between Thranduil and Legolas is, I can't bring myself to properly like how Thranduil's portrayed in the films. Although, now I know why

Thranduil walks over to Tauriel, who won't stop bloody crying, as she says some pretty cringeworthy things. The most noteable of which being "If this is love, I do not want it." It's just. I just. Ugh. YOU KNEW HIM FOR 4 DAYS AT THE MOST. YOU CAN'T CHANGE YOUR WHOLE LIFE BASED ON IT. Ok. That's out of my system now. I'm all good.

So, back to why I don't like how Thranduil is portrayed. It's not got much to do with his snobbishness, it's more about something he says here. She asks why it hurts so much, and he answers...

"Because it was real."



It was not real. Nothing changed since you accused it of not being real. All that's happened is Kili died. That's it. It doesn't solidify their forced, annoying, insulting relationship. If anything it tears it apart, because y'know, he's dead. Anyway now that I've nailed why I didn't like Tauriel, it's time to finally finish it off. The ending in the Extended Edition is much more solid and well-rounded; it has the funeral of Thorin, Fili and Kili, and the crowning of Dain. They both still seem a bit rushed though

So it comes to a close, as Bilbo says a nice heartfelt goodbye to everyone and heads back to the Shire with Gandalf and has a bit of last-minute book accurate filler before the film ends where it started in the Fellowship of the Ring, going full circle.

And there you have it. It's definitely a large step back from the other two, but it has its own fair share of enjoyable moments. I can still understand someone hating this one though. It's extremely obnoxious at times and ultimately fails at stretching a few pages into a feature length film. Is it terrible though? No, this doesn't compare to some films I class as 'terrible'. This isn't even a bad film in my book, it's just a mediocre disappointment. 

Therefore, I am going to Roddy Rate the film at a 6/10.

I'm also going to rate the Extended Edition at a 6.5/10.

Thanks for reading everybody, and I'll see you in the next review!

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