Please excuse Your Humble Owl for adding a spoon of wood tar into the barrel of honey dripping throughout the Internet on how wonderful the last “Hobbit” movie was. For me, it was a disaster. Harsh as this statement may seem, my heart was broken and defiled. You know I’m not some dumb Middle-Earth hater. I loved “The Lord of the Rings” and I can honestly say I really enjoyed the first two “Hobbit” movies. The Oakentoons were one of the outcomes of my very profound attachment to what I’ve read and seen so far. Sure, I did have a lot of fun mocking the plot and the characters, but I’ve never set the bar of humor low enough for anyone to feel hurt or affronted (I hope). But last night, after seeing “The Battle of the Five Armies” - the movie I had very high expectations for, especially after seeing the trailer - all my hopes turned into a worst kind of nightmare – a cruel joke made out of everything I held dear. What I’ve seen wasn’t an Oakentoon. It was an abomination.
I’m not writing this entry as a review. I don’t want to spoil the fun you had watching this movie either. To be honest, I’m just feeling so sad and disappointed, that I feel entitled to share all of my bitter reflections with all the fans who felt the same. If you enjoyed the movie, pat Your Humble Owl on the head and say “There, there, you’re exaggerating”. And if you didn’t… I bid you to stand up and say so. It will make Your Humble Owl feel better, knowing she’s not the only bird in Mirkwood who refuses to accept how this adventure turned into a bitter farce.
The defining chapter had nothing defining about it. While “The Desolation of Smaug” was rather uneven, having its ups and downs, some very good and some rather bad scenes mixed together every now and then, “The Battle of the Five Armies” was one terrible downfall with no more than a few moments I actually remembered as enjoyable to watch. Listing these scenes is far easier than listing all the ones I didn’t like, but overall – unlike “The Desolation of Smaug” - their presence failed to save the overwhelming feeling that all of this was simply... wrong.
Scenes with great potential, for both the scriptwriters and the actors, were denuded of all their subtleties and metaphorical background and turned into unbelievably blunt messages, leaving nothing for the viewer’s imagination. Any understatements, any innuendos were obliterated, delivering an unrefined answer instead. Thorin’s culmination of his mental downfall was reduced to a dwarf-swallowing golden floor, Fili’s death was stripped off any relevance being a result of a senseless trap and Kili’s death allowed Tauriel to deliver lines that even the worst amateur fanfic writer would be ashamed to include.
Few precious moments of grief or fear or pity were punctuated by primitive comic relief with some very poor timing, making me squirm and never laugh, with the irritating character of Alfrid popping up over and over for no reason at all, to the very limit of anyone’s patience. I know this isn’t the case, but it almost looked as if PJ was paid to include this character in his final movie. There are other ways to inspire hope and make the audience smile even though the hour seems dire. We’ve seen it in “The Return of the King”, with Gandalf’s speech about the White Shores. Now, in between the death of one hero and another whom we’ve grown attached to over these two exciting years, we get to see Alfrid dressed up as a woman, with money spilling out of his corset. And Peter Jackson, who wants us to cry over our fallen brothers, thinks this will make our sides split.
The final movie carried a promise of a battle worthy of the battles we’ve seen in “The Lord of the Rings”. From the very beginning it was quite obvious that what we’ll see on the cinema screens will be entirely PJ’s creation, with the battle itself left without any detailed description in the book. And I’m very sorry to say that I cannot believe that the battle at the gates of the Lonely Mountain came to life thanks to the very same person who made the battle for Helm’s Deep and the Siege of Gondor. It had no plot and no sense, being reduced to nothing more but a mindless display of special effects and creatures that failed to inspire any emotions in my heart – be it fear or disgust; a crude Hollywood blockbuster battle and a cruel parody of everything we’ve seen in “The Lord of the Rings”. Looking over the battlefield, at the ridiculous trolls on stilts and cliché earth worms, I’ve found myself doubting whether this “Hobbit-ish” Peter Jackson is the same visionary who brought us “The Lord of the Rings”. And this, with me being his loyal fan all these years, putting away savings for my once-in-a-lifetime trip to New Zealand, sharing the dream he made us dream, was one of the hardest blows “The Battle of the Five Armies” managed to deliver. It was the third and final arrow in Boromir’s chest – a terrible thought that Thorin Oakenshield’s heart wasn’t the only one corrupted by the glistening gold. I will not say Peter Jackson made these movies for money. I sincerely hope he made these movies for Tolkien’s fans and their love for Middle-Earth. But the things I’ve seen in “The Battle of the Five Armies” made me think of what had happened to a Galaxy Far Far Away and George Lucas who – once he was given all of the resources he didn’t have while making “Star Wars. Episodes IV-VI” – showed his true vision of how his world ought to look like if he could create it exactly as he intended. I know "The Hobbit" movies gathered lots of wonderful people who put their hearts and souls into each and every silver spoon, golden coin and cotton handkerchief, but all of this was eclipsed by PJ’s strenuous efforts to surprise us with new, inventive ways of portraying orcs and goblins and trolls, with the exactly opposite outcome. I looked on Azog’s army and wholeheartedly missed the simple rubber Uruk-hai.
Some believed that “The Return of the King” had too many endings. I’ve always disagreed with that and will continue to disagree. These endings brought expected closure to every unresolved thread in the trilogy. But it’s because of these endings some say that Peter Jackson decided to learn from his mistakes and cut “The Battle of the Five Armies’” endings to a minimum, closing Bilbo’s thread and – which I’ve found simply shocking – the thread of Legolas. The absolute absence of the most iconic scenes from the original book, closing the threads of Thorin, his nephews, the Arkenstone, Dain, and Bard, and Laketown, and Beorn made this movie feel not only incomplete but, worst of all, made these characters look unimportant. I felt deceived. I was made to love these heroes and in the end, with the Middle-Earth movies ending forever, I wasn’t even given a chance to say my goodbyes to them. Of course, you can say “… but they’ll show this in the Extended Edition”. This only proves that Peter Jackson considers these heroes as relevant only to the most devoted fans. Unlike Legolas, the main hero of the defining chapter.
And this brings me to one final bitter reflection of how PJ cut the plot into pieces and shifted the impact of each and every thread with little success, taking away the importance from the original events that happened in the book and handing it to - for absolutely no logical reason - the Mirkwood elves, one of them in particular. Many things can be said about how Legolas has evolved into a parody of what Tolkien’s elves stood for. But PJ had no right, NO RIGHT, to take away the focus from the Heirs of Durin and hand it to Legolas’ Matrix-like fighting, to the absolutely irrelevant Gundabad plot and his forced, unresolved issues. The final blow that made me swear I shall never, ever accept this movie as the end of the trilogy was hearing Thranduil’s “Your mother loved you” addressed to Legolas. All of you who have seen the extended edition of “The Desolation of Smaug”, who have witnessed Gandalf’s reunion with Thrain in Dol Guldur and the heart-touching scene in which Thrain begs Gandalf to tell Thorin that he loved him just before he dies, will understand how outraged this scene made me feel. This was the summit of all my disappointments, this was Peter Jackson spitting in my face.
I regret to say I found myself thinking, over and over again, while sitting in the cinema, that what I’ve just seen was simply stupid. I felt ashamed for being there to witness it and felt pity for the truly great actors involved in this adventure, forced to say out loud the rubbish PJ put in their characters’ mouths, forced to carry out the nonsensical actions. I pass my most sincere words of sympathy to Richard Armitage. I know “much would have been different” if he played this character along his very own, private interpretation - I was made sure of it when he spoke about the Doorstep scene from “The Desolation of Smaug”, saying that in his opinion Thorin would never leave like he did in the movie.
I wonder how all of this had happened. Did no one have the courage to disagree with Peter Jackson’s visions? Did everyone fail to see where all of this was going?
How did it come to this?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the East behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the deadwood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?
. . .
heartbroken and defiled
Lady P. Owl
Chief Ambassador of the Woodland Birdfolk
First Tree Hollow of the Red-Ivy Oak
Hooting on deviant
The Valentoon Contest!
Well done, sir, well done.
Despite everything that he screwed up, I really could have forgiven Jackson if he had given Fili and Kili the honorable deaths that they deserved. Unfortunately, he took what should have been a touching scene of two brothers defending their uncle, side by side, until their last breath, and instead turned it into an excuse to cram in one last bit of cliche "romance." This is to say nothing about the fact that one of the five armies was not even present at the battle, meaning that the title itself is a lie.
So, to sum up my feelings, allow me to lighten the mood with a bit of SPN
*(I'll leave that particular rant out, as I think I used it on another Oakentoon, but according to Tolkien's writing, which was partially influenced by his Roman Catholic upbringing, the whole love triangle would have been impossible)
First off, let me mentally high-five you for the use of the SPN gifs. Sam, Dean and Cas are displaying exactly my reaction to the movie, as well as Crowley's reaction to the rant. Gotta love that snarky devil!
Secondly, I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said. However, I would like to point out that there actually were five armies included in the final battle (Dwarves, Men, Elves, Orcs and Eagles, just like in the book). Well, technically there were six armies since there was also the army of Bats that were added into the films but they're supposed to be part of the Orc army so they don't really count.
The missing army was the Wargs:
"Upon one side were the Goblins and the wild Wolves, and upon the other were Elves and Men and Dwarves." - The Hobbit
Originally the Wargs were portrayed as their own army who happened to be in alliance with the orcs, much as the Eagles chose to assist Gandalf while not being under his control. While the Eagles did come in during the battle, they were not considered to be one of the five armies.
(Someone told me that the wargs were in the extended edition, but I usually don't consider "bonus" material as having the same significance as the rest of the movie. If the director wanted to include them in the movie, they would've been in it.)
However, I think the wargs were in the final film. If you watch the trailer you can see them running around so we most likely will see them in the extended edition, along with a bunch of other things that should have been in the theatrical cut instead.
I also just learned that in the original draft of the Hobbit, Tolkien was planning on there being another army in the battle, namely an army of bears led by Beorn. I would have love to have seen that!
First off I have to thank you for oakentoons; I walked out of BoFA feeling heavy and depressed. I was more in shock and bewildered than anything else, and I took days to sort out my emotions. After drowning my sorrows in incessant sad montages and youtubes and every picture I could find on my three fave hot dead dwarves, I finally found the 'toons and laughed my way out of grief. Bless you.
I read your rather eloquent commentary on the film and I at least partially agree with you on so many things.
1. I for one did lovethe whole dwarf on elfie thing and I felt I was hung out to dry and dissatisfied (frustrated). I agree on tauriel's final speech...contrived I believed was the word that came to mind... come on PJ , you got me to buy into this romance arc..at least give us some smoothies or something, even if you gotta kill cutie in the end. and Kili was bested way. too. quickly. He is a better fighter than that. Even though I am a sappy fanfic officionado, even I did not get offended by your comment. (hell, its the only thing keeping me from writing nasty notes to PJ)
2. Fili's death was an absolute travesty. I was so shocked and mad...That was unnecessary.
3. Closure-this movie was lacking big time..what happened to ___________(insert almost any character)? was the question on everyone's mind. I know Tolkien avid folk will know, but geez, you gotta have a funeral and let us grieve a little after you killed all the durin boys. And a few minutes to tie up all the storylines. I am gonna need therapy man...
4. I hate HATE HATE ALFRID. Too much screentime for such a buffoon
5. Yeah Gundabad sequence...WTF ? you put in Leggy and Tauriel then you pull them off in some weird reconnaissance mission without a point, plop them in at the last second for some screen shinanigans and to shatter shipper's hearts...
6. Not enough Beorn. or Eagles. would have liked the whole battle to go more like the book.
7. I love leggy and must admit to enjoying seeing him again in DOS. Not in this movie.Weird convoluted "you have no love in your heart" "Your momma loved you"and him going against his dad in every way for a chick who was just not that into him...left his character seeming like a jilted bitter escapist who is not what I thought he was in LOTR; a young idealistic elf warrior representing his people.
Better scripting without the focus being on visual wow would have helped. Ok, too much said.
Truest statement ever made about the movie. He did the Battle of the Pelennor so well, why couldn't he do so with this?
Last weekend I re-visited my DVD of Michael Mann’s Last of the Mohicans because there’s a little storyline quite similar to the Kili/Tauriel romance in there.
It’s the “impossible” love between two “different races” (remember this is set in 18th century America!), in this case Indian chief’s son Uncas and white general’s daughter Alice. They barely have any dialogue together throughout the movie, and certainly not about love issues, but you can tell that there’s a lot going on between these two just by their glances and gestures.
It’s quite sweet, and if only PJ & Co had handled Kili/Tauriel a bit more like this and with less of a sledgehammer approach then their version might have been very touching, too...
But the whole film felt so rushed and unfinished. Why showing the precious necklace of Thranduil when it hadn't a big role in the movie plot?
I missed the burial scene. I wanted so badly to see fili, Thorin and kili next to each other. Also that the arkenstone was given back to Thorin.
I cried at the end because it felt like an ending of a era for me. I grew up with the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. *snif*
I hope that those scenes are going to be at the extended edition. It was way better if they took all those strange scenes of Alfrid out of the movie and gave us the burial of the heirs of Durin. And that one of the arrows of Legolas would hit Azog. URgh, I hate Azog so much. *ggr*
But I loved Bilbo and Thorin's ending scene. So touching.
Ow, I love your oakentoons.
I was waiting the whole time for that scene in the cinema.
It's so beautiful described in the book. I love the idea that Thranduil gives ocrist back to thorin and that the arkenstone is layed down on Thorin's chest. :3
Your Oakentoons have been akin to therapy, providing much needed humor and cleverness to the blunt, cliche romance, the third Hobbit movie turned into.
Alfrid aka Grima Wormtongue Jr. only made me irritated. Why were we wasting screen time on a nuisance that could have been spent with the dwarves or even Bilbo? Who were what the HOBBIT was actually about?
The terrible romance, the focus on Legolas and Tauriel, mangling of Thranduil, terrible use of CGI and more aside...
The Battle of the Five Armies still made me cry. It emotionally moved me out of genuine grief for the characters plights. I can count on one hand the number of movies I've cried for. What's more I cried in a theatre.
Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman (and of course most of the rest of the cast) are all wonderfully talented and vivid actors.
I thought that Armitage portrayed Thorin (what we got to see of him) in a gorgeous and tragic way. It made my heart hurt.
Freeman, I thought, managed to show the character development of Bilbo. He's no longer the self centered hobbit who thought only of tea and his mother's doilies. He's seen some of his closest friends die, braved monsters (and snobby elves), and traveled so far as to speak with a dragon and live to tell the tale. I thought that was beautiful.
At Thorin's last words, I started leaking. Then when they showed Bilbo's handkerchief my tears were gushing out. I just couldn't help it. I thought that the ending, leading into the Fellowship of the Ring, was the PERFECT ending.
Unfortunately the rest of the movie did not follow the trend of those 2 perfect scenes.
Thank you again, for this post and for your Oakentoons.
Well, I’ve just joined Deviantart merely for the sake of writing this comment and even then it took me few days tu put my thoughts together (that doesn’t mean that they’re coherent, so take this as a warning of my babbling in next paragraphs … ).
When I came back from my Christmas/winter break and visited your site, I was like "Yay, new Oakentoons, finally! And even a new entry, which means that she finally saw the film!" Then I started reading (the entry first) and my thoughts were: "Wait, what? I know that some people don’t like the film and even I wasn’t terribly pleased by it and saw some great flaws, but this? Who she thinks she is? This is Middle-earth and Peter Jackson! How could she even say some of those things … ? Oh well, she’s exaggerating, she’s saying that yourself. But then I continued reading ...
Now comes the first of my thank-yous to you … Dear Peckish Owl, thank you so much for the entry above, it really opened my eyes!
A little bit of my personal Tolkien-related history here (I’ll try to keep it short, I promise). My parents used to read me The Hobbit before bed time and I read both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings at least twice before my 10th birthday. A little time later, the LotR films came to cinemas and I was utterly captivated by PJ’s visual approach and by the epicness of that all (majesty wasn’t yet invented back then). I reread the trilogy, learned Quenya a bit and that stuff. Even tried the Silmarillion, but at that age I wasn’t able to comprehend it and I abandoned it after few pages. Then … nothing more. The years went by, I grew up (at least physically ) and almost forget about the Tolkien (just joking, I still have had it in my favourite bookshelf).
Back to The Hobbit movie: when I had first heard that it is about to be filmed, I wasn’t much enthusiastic. The book is nice but not epic (you know, it's for small children). Moreover, at that point there was no Peter Jackson in it. So I hadn’t expected much; even though I got to knew later that there would be PJ involved. Eventually, it went to that extent that the first time I saw AUJ it was onboard of a flight on 5” flatscreen. With only one working headphone. In foreign language, no subtitles. And being constantly interrupted by crew’s announcements. Most confusing was the part that went like this: Battle of Anazulbizar, quite epic actually, blood and orcs seen even on the small screen -- “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your pilot speaking…” -- a fluffy squirming hedgehog and some loony with poo in his hair. ("??? Last time I’d read the book was ten years ago, but I’d bet this wasn’t there). As you may imagine, it didn’t impress me much.
That means I was completely unprepared for watching the DoS in cinema. It was a bit of shock, all that majesty... Immediately after that I went and rewatched the AUJ (on proper screen this time) and I almost couldn’t bear all that majesticness Then I’ve read all the original Hobbit and LotR books once again and even the Silmarillion. Though, all this time I knew how The Hobbit ends, which made me really sad - but a few weeks later, I happened to come across your Oakentoons and that has been the best thing to lighten my thoughts (my first one was ‘#91 - He’s got a dream’ and it was absolutely perfect and hilarious, even though I didn’t know Tangled at that time).
So thank you the second time - for your Oakentoons and other Oakenworks because they’ve made me smile uncountable times and it has been always a highlight of my day!
Through your site and other commenters I also discovered the whole world of fanfiction… which didn’t go exactly smoothly: "Bagginshield?? Uh...huh a little weird but okay. Mpreg??? what the hell?! Those people are completely crazy nuts, let’s get out of here!" But after another few months of exposition to all the amazing fanfics and fanart, I can honestly say that I actually
like love Bagginshield fics (mpreg still not being my cup of tea but I can live with that if the story is otherwise well writen). I even think about writing one myself (solely for the purpose of improving my English, of course. But who’d thought a year ago? Me not).
The third thank you - thanks for introducing me to the fanfiction world (even if unintentionally ).
Sooo, finally (I know, I said it’d be short …), to the third film … The first two films were not bad, although lacking the qualities of the Lord of the Rings - even the CGI insanity had been managed better in those days. Even though the films were not exactly according to the book (Legolas and Tauriel really frayed my nerves), it was not too different. So I went to the cinema expecting quite a lot (especially after listening to the Billy Boyd’s The Last Goodbye) thinking "I bet it will be epic and then it will be over and the world will be all right again". Then I came out and I was like: "So it’s over. But why I don’t feel like that?" But still, there was a wonderful New Zealand, a great camera and fantastic actors thus I went with that, closing eyes before reality and secretly pretending that this third film didn’t happen or it was some kind of try-out and there is yet the right one to come, which will make things how they should have been done.
That is, until I saw this entry of yours, got my eyes open and it was about time. I managed to wrap my head around it only after reading your post two or three times but now I agree with you wholeheartedly. I won’t bother you with my repetitions of what you already summed up - the young Durins’ death, the ridiculous battle scenes, awkward Alfrid’s scenes (I could have imagined them in EE though.) ... But I want to say that I really missed the ending scenes even before reading your post - I am really convinced that if the funeral had been there (with the Arkenstone and (hopefully-not-)shining Orcrist in Thorin’s tomb and Bard and Dain as kings), it would set so many things right. Without it, this story really has no meaningful end and closing song just doesn’t have the effect it could had. What I really enjoyed was a depiction of Thorin’s madness until the scene with golden pool - that was not bad. Unfortunately, it wasn’t satisfactory either.
To the scene with Gandalf and his pipe - at first I was as unbelievable as all the others in the cinema but eventually we found it quite amusing and fitting in - but the Czechs truly have a twisted sense of humor. But I do agree that the lenght of this scene was really unnecessary.
I am still going to watch the EE (maybe), but you’re absolutely right with the simile to the wound that never heals, I couldn’t have expressed it better. I myself wouldn’t be so harsh to PJ, but whom else one can blame?
On the happier note: I am still going to travel New Zealand one day and to dream a dream about Middle-Earth. Actually I am in the middle of The Lost Tales I and it’s pretty amazing.
If you’ve actually read this whole thing, you definitely deserve an Ark .. er ... I meant award. And even if you haven’t, you truly do. Once again thank you for your wonderful Oakentoons and everything you are doing!