Clearly, Thorin Never Saw “Fatal Attraction”

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When the bad person/obsessed mistress/orc king in a movie is under water, apparently dead, don’t just stand there. Because movie villains seem to have amazing abilities in the holding-their-breath department and he/she/it is only waiting to spring out and shout “boo” or “arrggggg.”

It’s one of the odd movie rules, “the evil one can hold his or her breath,” sort of like the old rule that Siskel and Ebert talked about, “the killer always hesitates.” Come to think of it, that happened in this movie, some, too. I guess everyone has to hesitate some if one or two chapters in a kid’s book is going to be an epic motion picture.

Don’t hold your breath when the villain does—that’s one lesson I learned from seeing “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.”

It was a movie with lots of plusses and minuses, good things and odd things, many parts that I enjoyed, many parts that left me wondering a bit what Peter Jackson had in mind.

What I liked:

  • Smaug attacking Lake Town. He was a satisfyingly huge, angry dragon, terrifying in his impact. Smaug the great and terrible was great fun to watch. Sigh. He was gone too soon.
  • Thorin going off his rocker. Lust for gold is the root of all evil. You listening, GOP in Congress?
  • Hot, strong elf babes. Galadriel is indeed still hot, and I thought she belonged a bit more in this movie, rather than movie one, because in this one it’s plausible she could have been part of the “White Council” that drove the Necromancer from Mirkwood. Tauriel was a bit troubling in movie two when she showed up for no reason, but since she’s already here, we might as well have her do her orc-killing moves during the third movie’s fights. And sure, the romance with Kili was silly, but that also felt like an artifact from movie two, too.
  • Most battle scenes. Not all—more on that later—but most of them were pretty well done. The elves look pretty but the dwarves can fight.

What I didn’t like:

  • Gandalf in a cage. Why is he always having to be rescued? It happened only once in the books, which made it extraordinary—in the movies this poor guy spends way too much time being dangled. Yes, I know, he was in the Necromancer’s prison in the books, but the implication there is that he snuck in and out of the Necromancer’s fortress under his own power, not that Galadriel had to cart him around like a big ugly baby.
  • My son Ben at Christmas. He got a grey blanket and joked it was the color of his parents' hair--but I think he looks like a troll about to flunk an IQ exam by running into a wall with a stone bonnet on.

    My son Ben at Christmas. He got a grey blanket and joked it was the color of his parents’ hair–but I think he looks like a troll about to flunk an IQ exam by running into a wall with a stone bonnet on.

    Some of the sillier battle scenes. The battles were mostly fun to watch, but there were too many, they went on way too long, and some of the ideas were just odd. The troll in the stone bonnet running at the wall, was that supposed to be comedic relief? And why did Legolas get to suspend any laws of physics whenever he wanted to, like being able to run along an already collapsed bridge or having a bat who is smaller than he is cart him about?

  • Some of the painful extra dialogue. My son Ben pointed out that you would quickly pass out during a drinking game if you took a sip every time someone said “war” in a portentous way early in the movie—”what were those bats bred for? War! Will you have peace of war? War! What is it good for? War! Good God y’all.” But war wasn’t the most painful word uttered or shouted too much. Then there were some of the death scenes. Tauriel, honey, when you get to kick some orc butt, you are fun to watch. But when you get your heart broken over your rather short, true love, you fall into painful dialogue with the elf king that seems to have been written by a distraught 13-year-old girl:

“Why does it hurt so bad?”

“That’s how you know it was real. Or perhaps written by Tracey in Mrs. Pettigrast’s seventh grade English class.”

Anyway, on balance, I have to admit I was very entertained. I actually appreciated one more visit to Middle Earth. The Hobbit didn’t need to be blown up into three movies, but the third is, for me, mostly satisfying. Much of the added stuff is at least consistent with the thrust of the book, there is no ridiculous chase scene down a river—and even if odd animals suddenly and inexplicably show up when they are needed (and I’m not really talking about eagles, I’m more wondering where the dwarfs suddenly came up with tame mountain goats as steeds), one thing that Peter Jackson does get right is the “look” and “feel” of Middle Earth.

So, yes, if you’re a Tolkien fan, if you can get over how ridiculous an elf king looks riding around on a moose, I think you might like this one.

Still, too bad Smaug wasn’t around more.


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