Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Hobbit: A Battle of Fine Awesomes

The final chapter of Peter Jackson’s second visit to Middle Earth is over.
Good thing Star Wars comes back to fill the enormous void it will leave next December.

It’s hard to review this one without retreading things I’ve covered before. 

However, it was the first Middle Earth flick I’ve seen in 3D, for those that it does not give a headache (sorry, Hon.) the premium for the glasses is definitely worth it.

I’ve already talked about why I feel these movies provide the most understandable and enjoyable access to Tolkien’s world.

I’ve talked in depth about the appeal of that world to both the Tolkien fan and uninitiated.

And I’ve talked about the benefits of expanding the actions and the heroism of Bilbo and the Dwarfs in Thorin’s company to turn a children’s book into these epic films.

The finale went well beyond on that third one though.

The most defining part of The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies was being constructed of set pieces with virtually no details in the book.

The opening pre-title sequence was a dragon attack that most movie makers would be ecstatic to have as a climactic finale.  In the book, this segment occurred while the dwarfs were all holed up in the Misty Mountain and most of the action was related after the fact.

The second pile of awesome was merely hinted at in the novel, and only briefly detailed in later works to explain Gandalf’s absence. 
On screen, the White Council confronting the Necromancer was fully realized in a massive display of power and magic.

After these bits of momentousness finished, it was time for the reason we all came.

There were five(ish) armies…
and holy schamolees did they battle!

Unlike the book, it wasn’t shown as a general mish mash where Bilbo turns invisible to hide, gets knocked out for the whole thing, and wakes up to find out how it all went down after the fun has ended.

He and the Company of Thorin continued their parade into Legendary Awesomeness, their vastly more heroic roles carried throughout the combat.

And it wasn’t just that the battles were awesome…and they were.

And it wasn’t just that the film delivered on promised awesome hinted at and rumored from the release of An Unexpected Journey such as:

What’s more awesome than a Wood Elf King astride a Megaloceros?

A wood Elf King astride a Megaloceros charging through companies of Orcs working in concert with its rider to dispatch them in entertaining ways.

Billy Connolly as Dain Ironfoot was every bit the Magnificent Insane Bastard. I expected from his casting announcement.  He rode in on a wild boar and head butted his way into cinema history,

Anyone who thought they couldn’t top the previously crazy awesome exploits of Legolas…
Not only are they wrong, but Tauriel adds in some awesome to the pile from a female perspective.  I was unaware that trainers from the WWE had visited Mirkwood.

The leadership of Azog the Defiler continued to provide the most deadly organized evil foe seen in Middle Earth, with combined arms attacks consisting of battle bats, deceptive tactics, and trolls as freakin’ siege engines.

Yes, with all that in place alone, the film would have still been a textbook example of incredible awesomeocity.

But what made it also a high quality emotionally satisfying entertainment experience, was that the awesome alone wasn’t the driving the film.

It was the character’s interactions in and around the awesome that did that.  The terrors of war brought out varying levels of heroism, friendship, cowardice, betrayal, warmth and honor in the individuals tied up in it.

It was those moments that raised the movie, and all of the Middle Earth saga above awesomeness for awesomeness sake.

Though it worked fine on that level too.

Dwarven Battle Goats!
I totally did not see that coming!



Chris said...

Thanks for the review! Haven't seen this yet, but am looking forward to it when it comes out on DVD.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thanx for reading. It was a heck of a capstone. They certainly brought the wicked-awesome to close things out.