What The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Got Right
Written by Bryce Waller
As I sit here listening/crying to Howard Shore’s score for The Fellowship of the Ring, the film that started it all for me, I cannot help but sit here and wonder where we went wrong. And by “we” I mean Peter Jackson.
No, we are not the same person – he has a much bigger belly and a cooler accent, but I believed for years now that we were kindred spirits. Kindred spirits in the same way that Turin and Beleg Strongbow appear to be in the pages of Children of Hurin. I being Turin, obviously, with my sword skills and anger issues when someone cuts me off in traffic, and PJ (only I can call him that) clearly being the Sindarin elf who teams up with me/Turin to rid the world of Morgoth’s evil and Hollywood of crappy fantasy films.
But I was betrayed by PJ. My love has grown weary and can no longer accept these films that he is making. I mean, come on dude- three friggin’ movies for a book with 300 pages (Give or take a few pages of genealogies or appendixes)?!?
We had a chance to be great here, PJ. YOU blew it! But to pretend nothing came from this new trilogy of films would be kidding myself. As a purist of the Middle-Earth universe, and as disappointed as I am with The Hobbit films, it’d be a shame to only acknowledge the ways Mr. Jackson has strayed.
Your films are beautiful (more so with LOTR than your CGI Hobbit trilogy) and all and the score continues to bring tears to my eyes, but the story, man. I tried telling myself for years now that I was the one who changed. Puberty happened, women can vote, etc., but NO! No longer will I allow myself to entertain and endure such thoughts. You changed, PJ…you changed!
But, I choose to see a silver lining in all this. Instead of pointing out your clear flaws, I choose to point out what you got right! I cannot say that this is a decision I came to myself. The site’s creator, Baby T, put the idea in to my mind much the same way Grima Wormtongue influenced Theoden with his wicked ideas.
So let us take a moment to point out the greatness in The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies,
leaving the inaccuracies to another post.
1. The main character’s name is Bilbo Baggins.
This was key for this film to succeed. After all, The Hobbit could not be about Beorn, am I right?
This point is a joke, but the more I think about it, I can’t help but think about Avatar: The Last Airbender. They literally pronounced his name wrong the entire movie. Not to mention the X-men films focusing on Wolverine, the guy who isn’t even at the school half the time nor is he meant to lead.
So as sarcastic as this entry may seem, the world of Middle-Earth has a variety of great characters to focus on but the filmmakers stuck with their incapable, hairy-footed protagonist rather than slowly shift toward Bard or some other 6 foot leading man with chiseled looks and leave Bilbo out in the CGI forest.
2. The Battle of the Five Armies
The battle that ensues before the gates of Erebor is, you guessed it, between five races.
On the one hand, you have the Elves, Men, and Dwarves facing off against the forces of Goblins and Wargs. Now in the film, PJ refers to the Goblins as Orcs the whole time. There are actually “goblins” in the battle towards the end, and they are referred to as such, but let us discuss this matter of “goblins versus orcs” and which one is correct.
In The Hobbit [novel], Tolkien refers to them as goblins. It was not until later that Tolkien himself said that “goblins” and orcs are basically the same thing. Initially I found fault in this because I wanted everything to be perfect (not so much), but I guess I can look past it. Although, the goblins/orcs in the film are large so they really should be referred to as “hobgoblins” as Tolkien himself refers to them in LOTR text. JUST SAYIN’!
3. The right people DIE!
While I was crossing my fingers the whole time that Bolg would absolutely destroy Tauriel, I was happy when PJ killed off Fili, Kili, and Thorin (although the way they did it was a completely original idea from PJ…definitely not based on source material).
In the book we only know that Fili and Kili perished some time during the battle protecting Thorin. The Hobbit [novel] is told through the eyes of Bilbo, of course, our hobbit. Given that in the novel, Bilbo slips on the ring and then is knocked out cold for the duration of the battle, we never know how Kili and Fili died, only, as stated before, that they died protecting their leader Thorin.
Thorin is left alive in the novel long enough for Bilbo to see him one last time – so they can kiss and make up before Thorin kicks the bucket…maybe. Depending on whether you agree with elves or dwarves, dwarves, after dying, believe that they have a special place reserved for them in Mandos. They believe their creator, Aule, reserved a hall for them and that they will aid Aule in the remaking of Arda, a.k.a. Middle Earth, after the Last Battle.
The elves believe something so boring I am forced to agree with the dwarves. Elves believe dwarves simply return to the stone they were birthed from. Any hoo, people that needed to die, died.
That was a good thing, in a weird kind of way. There was no “Let’s have a oh-so happy ending to appease the kids” type of ending but what the good author intended.
4. Howard Shore’s score was beautiful as always.
You see that I am now forced to focus on things that have absolutely nothing to do with the story!?!?! Howard Shore knows his place in Middle-Earth and he knows it well. That’s it. The music is awesome.
5. The acting is spot on.
Nothing about the ability of the actors/actresses to convey their character’s story to me sitting in the theater makes me forget for one second how far this movie strayed from my beloved Hobbit.
But, the acting in this film was excellent.
It is hard to read any of the LOTR novels, or The Hobbit without seeing Ian McKellan’s face when Gandalf is in the narrative. He is excellent as always and Martin Freeman plays a very convincing Bilbo. The entire company is done well, with some of them obviously having to work harder at their character than others.
Luke Evans is Luke Evans, and that is not a bad thing, but his character had a little too much emotion to it. But Evans was subject to the pages that were given to him. Hard to fault the man – unless it was his idea to jump on a wooden wagon and fly down some stone steps to save his children…that was just…
That is it. That is all I can think that was done right. There is a definite possibility that more important details were included in the film, but right now I just can’t think of them. Feel free to nitpick and tell me that the PJ did it right when Bilbo betrays the company to save them, or that Beorn was included in the battle (even though he doesn’t kill Bolg like he does in the novel), and Bilbo’s house was about to be auctioned off when he returned to the Shire, etc.
LET’S DIALOGUE PEOPLE!