Monday, January 5, 2015
The Esteemed Critic Reviews The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies
Ah, let's get this over with. My disdain for blockbuster movies is well-noted--if it's not in French and not neo-surrealism, then it isn't worth watching--but I must admit that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is acceptable by modern entertainment standards. Sure, women and minorities are either totally unrepresented or given nothing to do, but the movies are tonally consistent, and the burgeoning homosexual love between Frodo and Sam is pure, and has none of the classism of Tolkien's original work. They are, in short, a meatheaded good time, and who doesn't desire to forget one's high consciousness every once in a while? Me, that's who. Unfortunately, the last movie in Peter Jackson's bloated Hobbit trilogy is not worthy of even a simpleton's consideration. Bilbo, ostensibly the trilogy's protagonist, is given little screen time and nothing to do. Too much time is spent on Orlando Bloom and the she-elf, both of whom are deficient in acting ability. Arnold Schwarzenegger is/was a better actor than Bloom; Bloom is not capable of any emotion other than a steely-eyed stare, like the object in his gaze got his pancake order wrong. I comprehend why Jackson invented the part of Tauriel--Liv Tyler was the series' sole female character, other than Cate Blanchett, who's crammed in here as well--but she becomes a damsel in distress more often than a heroine, and distractingly so, since she's capable of gymnastic twirling and other elf crap that somehow disables three-hundred pound orcs. This movie is sorely lacking Smaug's Benedict Cumberbatch, who's distinctive voice and reptilian menace made him entertaining to watch. An orc chieftain is the main baddie--Alzog the large-membered, or some nonsense--and he's so unconvincingly rendered that you have to wonder if this movie was under budget constraints. Indeed, the CGI looks worse than that of the Lord of the Rings movies--gelatinous ogres look like they belong in an early Harry Potter movie, not Jackson's grim trilogy. As for tonality, this film is all over the place. There is an unfunny, self-serving comic relief figure that you keep praying gets decapitated, yet the moment never comes. Thorin, the dwarf king and pseudo protagonist, undergoes a bipolar change in personality that is neither convincing nor particularly compelling. Characters ride into battle on giant pigs and giant reindeer. Legolas defies gravity with stripper-like machinations; 92 year-old Christopher Lee smacks orcs like a video game character. Battle scenes take forever to complete, and are completely without tension. Surprisingly, two main characters die (spoiler: it's the only two dwarves you might be able to name) yet their deaths leave the viewer happy that the relentless onslaught of CGI violence is over. Let's put a nail in the coffin of the Hobbit trilogy. It made money, which was its purpose, yet I doubt you'll be compelled to ever watch it again. Degeneracy, in short.
Conclusion: Watch the 70's animated film. It's still the best version. And all those songs! The greatest adventure is what lies ahead...