***I do not plan for this to be a short piece. Throughout the Internet, you will see that the average recommended blog length should be 1,000 words because people have low attention spans. I say “fuck that,” and am going to 1) do what I want and 2) go on for as long as want. I will not be eloquent and my words will not be academic. No oath nor bond is laid to go further than you will.***
Fran Walsh: [You do find out] the Elves are fighting their own battles and holding the the line against invasions from the north. Attacks are being made in Lothlorien, perhaps not at this phase-
Peter Jackson: It’d be cool to show that, wouldn’t it? That Lothlorien stuff?
Philippa Boyens: Stop it. Stop him now.
Peter Jackson: No, but wouldn’t it be cool? Because it was one of those things that was just hinted in the books.
“Other people began to complain about the absence of Tom Bombadil. Sad, yes, but I mean, this could on and on and on and on.” – Christopher Lee
Well, here I am again. Nerdy, and enraged. Over the past couple years, I’ve given up being a rant-machine online, and even in my waking life, because I’m all airy-fairy hippie now and negativity is bad. But something has lured me out from my days of solace and awoken the Nerd Rager within me. And that is the two-hour and fourteen minute moving picture The Hobbit: The Search For More Money. Sorry, I mean The Hobbit 3: The Search For Even More Money. Like Smaug, I was resting deeply in a great big pile (my pile made of dirty laundry, though), when a dumb little movie came stumbling in and woke me the fuck up. And now, my nerd wrath must be endured!
For a little background, I am sort of a The Lord of the Rings fanatic. Not so much for the Silmarillion and all that, but the Jackson movies and the world at the time of LOTR and the Third Age. Played the video and board games, made my own games for it, had the one-a-day rip off calendar, played the Trivial Pursuit, you name it. So I was excited to see that The Hobbit was going to be made into a film, and even more rejoiced when Peter Jackson took over the project after Gullermo del Toro was like “Uhh yeah, this shit is taking too long to make.” The man behind The Lord of the Rings was going to film The Hobbit! And it was gonna be two movies. All right, I guess. And then, it was going to be three because things like that happen in movies nowadays.
Over the past years, I’ve seen the last three Hobbit flicks, and only over the past year have I begun to edit my own version of it, trying to condense this 9 hour thing into a workable film the length of The Fellowship of the Ring. (Yet this is not about the fanedit, I might write about that shit later, but maybe not.) And since Hobbit 3 just came out on video, I got it so I could start editing it. And watching it back, I could feel the old engines firing up. I could feel the hate swelling in me. I could feel the tingling in my fingers, my chest tightening until I could sit at a keyboard and let fly.
And so here I am. Wings far abreast, toward Lake Town. You have awoken the dragon, and now it is coming with fire.
All right, Rammfan, so how are you going to talk about The Hobbit 3? Well, we’re gonna watch the whole fucking thing, and there will be asides, and there will be parts where I bring something else up, and there will be parts that will make you want to go straight down to the commentin’ section. So let’s watch this fucking crap.
I never thought I would get mad at a movie for beginning, but I guess anything is possible. The problem is, BOFA JUST STARTS. We see the logos, and then the “Hobbit” title, and then there’s a fade-in, and the movie just starts. That is it. Then we’re in the movie. May I note that the, if you really wanna count the Hobbit movies to fall in with LOTR, the other five films all begin with a little scene or prologue-y type thing that help give the movie context? In Return of the King, we saw Gollum’s transformation. In Desolation of Smaug, we had Gandalf and Thorin sitting around or whatever. BOFA had nothing. I understand they split this shit into 3 and probably hadn’t filmed a scene for it, and it was highly improbable for them to do pick-ups because this shit was already like a gazillion dollars, but they didn’t even do anything? Not a history of dragons? Or maybe a scene with Bilbo, I dunno, being a kid or whatever? Remember in the first Hobbit movie when Gandalf said “I remember a young Hobbit who used to go into the woods, looking for Elves. Trailing in mud and sticks.” We couldn’t see some of that? How a young Bilbo imagined going after dragons, and now here he was, fighting them? Talking with them? And so on? Whatever. Fuck it. I forgot these movies aren’t really about Bilbo.
So the movie fucking begins with the Master of Lake-town, a character who was given a role way beyond his in the book. A character I don’t give two shits about. And he’s evacuating the city. Oh, but so is Tauriel, the elf-maiden character who wasn’t in the book. Oh, and she’s with Bard’s children, who also weren’t in the book. Birds of a not-in-the-book flock together, I guess. So Smaug starts destroying the town in some sweet-ass shots (I’m not so hardened that I won’t admit when something is cool or good. Although I would have liked it if Esgaroth was a model, but whatever).
So, Lake Town Master and his version of Grima Wormtongue, some added character for no fucking reason, are traveling through Lake Town on their boat, and the city is burning with terrible CGI-fire. Bard, the dude from the book who kills Smaug, was in jail or some shit or some crap and breaks out to fuckin’ take care of Smaug. There’s a quick thing with Balin and the dwarves looking all sad and it’s boring. And there’s Biblo, yay! Six minutes into the film proper. Remember how, after each LOTR opening scene, we saw Frodo within like 10 seconds? JUST SAYIN’.
So, back to Esgaroth where Bard is standing on the bell tower, high above the CGI-fire-ridden city to shoot at the dragon. His children, on a boat with Tauriel, see him and are like “Oh no, da!” His son, Bain or whatever, decides to help his dad because gender roles in movies and he’s a boy and he’s active and shit. His two sisters remain on the boat and are like “Bain, no..don’t go..” Smaug is still firing his shit or whatever and then Bard is all outta arrows. Bain arrives with the Black Arrow, their last projectile, the one from the oh who cares. They have one shot left, whatever. Smaug fucks up the tower, which nearly sends Not-in-book #3 to his fiery computer generated death.
Smaug stops burning shit and stops to talk some smack, which is pretty awesome (Smaug’s trash-talk is just something I could not get enough of in Halls of Erebor). Bard’s bow is broken, but he stuffs it into some wood and makes a bow or something, the large Black Arrow resting on his son’s shoulder. And, despite my rage, I actually like the scene the follows. Bard, pulling the arrow, his son, facing him, with the dragon coming toward him, and with Bard telling his son to look at him, and not the dragon as it looms ever closer. And finally, the music is good (I might go on more about the score later, but we’ll see). The arrow flies true and smacks Smaug in his Achilles Heel (which is fine and believable), and then Smaug dies and shit. It’s kind of strange that a film two villain die in the beginning of the third movie, but whatever. (This is why PJ cut Saruman from The Return of the King theatrical, y’know…but whatever).
So the dragon is dead and the Dwarves and Bilbo are like “yay”. And, oh, I forgot about this part, we fucking go to Dol Guildur where Gandalf was investigating a LOTR-related subplot that didn’t belong in this movie. So, he’s just in a cage and Galadriel, with her mind, tells him he is not alone. All right. At least it wasn’t a long dumb scene.
We come to the next morning on the borders of Lake Town, where everyone is freaking out, including Alfrid, the Wormtounge to the Lake Master fucker dude. Tauriel’s walking around and then comes upon fuckin’ that Dwarf guy, what’s his name, Kili, who she, in like five seconds, fell in love with in the last movie. He says dumb-ass love platitude shit like “You make me feel alive” and then “I love you” in Elvish or whatever, even though they like DON’T EVEN REALLY KNOW EACH OTHER. Fuck. And then jealous boyfriend Legolas comes and I’m wondering why the fuck this is in this damn movie. I understand there was a love-triangle of sorts in LOTR with Legolas, Gimli, and Aragon, I MEAN Aragorn, Eowyn, and Arwen, but it is done in a non-teeny way. This is an adaptation of The Hobbit, not some YA dystopian bullshit. So Kili gives her some token or some shit and she smiles and Legolas is all jealous and this makes me want to die. And he looks back when he sails away (because of course he does).
Now, looking at this scene, I could see some potential. If you just had Kili and Tauriel talking, but not about love-shit, but about how their paths were diverging, and then had their painful separation, it would have been way more powerful. That’s why Eowyn’s crush on Aragon was so heartbreaking, because she just kind of hovered around with pained looks. She never said “you make me feel alive.” You see, characters in movies can say things with out SAYING them. It’s called SUBTEXT. Kili and Tauriel note that they have to separate, that their current destinies lie elsewhere, but, before they leave, he gives her the token he was going to give his mother when he returned home WITHOUT A WORD. Then he sails away, tight lipped, mature enough to know that he might never see her again. How fucking good would that be? Now film it. And now cut it out because it doesn’t belong in the movie.
After the lame Star Wars: Episode II-like romance scene, Alfrid is annoying some lady for a blanket. And this leads to fighting over it with some intense music. (This is seriously a scene in the movie). Before Alfrid can hit her for calling him out on his sleazy ways, Bard stays his hand and is like “don’t turn on your own people”, and then Bard’s son trips Alfrid or whatever. (This movie is so lame. Where is Bilbo?) Bard is reunited with his Non-book family and then the people of Lake Town are like “Yay, let’s elevate this supporting character to play a much bigger role at the expense of the quality of the overall movie, yay!” Alfrid calls Bard “dragonslayer” and “King Bard” and tries to make him leader. And he’s like “no” and then people turn on Alfrid for being a greedy fucker and not caring about the people, only the mula. They’re about to mob-kill him when Bard stops them and says “have you not had enough death, blah blah blah!” And then they agree to help each other.
And that’s the problem with these fucking movies. In that last scene alone, we had Alfrid about to hit a woman, then Bard changed his mind in like two seconds. And then the people were going to kill Alfrid and Bard changed their mind in two seconds. Swell-music any time there’s some conflict. This reminds me of the absolutely pointless scene in the last film when Alfrid challenged Bard for entering the city with illegal fish. “Those fish are illegal, pour them over” Dramatic music. “Would you really want the people to know you’re wasting food”. Suspend dramatic music. “Okay, fine, go.” End scene. Fucking lame. What did that last scene in the film even accomplish? That Bard was reunited with his family. That people don’t like Alfrid, and that they have to look for shelter. Why didn’t you just have everyone reuniting and Bard going “Hey, why not we go to fucking Dale to protect our own?”, with Alfrid looking off, being an outcast now for being such an asshole? (As I said earlier, SUBTEXT). God, I hate this.
So the separated Dwarves come to Erebor, and Bilbo comes out, having his first proper scene after nineteen fucking minutes. I can hardly express how much delight it brings to finally see Martin Freeman on the screen. It almost makes me forget all the shit that’s been going on (almost.) He tells the Dwarves that Thorin has some dragon sickness and he’s going bonkers. They witness Thorin being all Scrooge McDuck about Erebor’s riches. Then the Dwarves are reunited and hug for like five seconds and then they’re looking for the Arkenstone. Then we get a scene with Bilbo, who sits and mulls over what he has done, which is taking the Arkenstone in the last movie. So Bilbo’s got the Arkenstone. Cool. (This shit is actually from the book, so yay).
And now we’re back with the fucking Lake People. Bard explains to Alfrid that he plans on going to the mountain, and Legolas explains that others will have heard of the dragon’s wealth, and they they will come for all the monies. Whatever. And then we have a scene with Azog, the Orc dude from the previous two (who I believe was mentioned in the book but was never really a proper villain). And for some reason, Azog has been trying to kill Thorin like gangbusters. (I don’t know, Thorin cut his arm off or some shit). So the white CGI-monster tells the other CGI-monster to ride to Gundabad to get some more army fuckers. Yep. . .
Then we’re in the fucking camp again because this movie somehow changed from being The Hobbit to War Camp Drama Shit. Legolas says he recognized one of the Orcs that attacked Lake Town in the last movie and that he is from Gundabad (okay). And so Legolas and Tauriel go there because I don’t fucking care. They ride off and the Lake people leave for Dale.
And now we’re back with Gandalf at Dol Guildur. Oh, Radaghast is there as well. An Orc tells him that spells with not save him, and then Galadriel is walking around the ruins of the old fortress. And, look, there’s an Orc who is a guy in make-up (yay!), of which, in these three movies, there are few. Galadriel shoots some magic shit and he dies, I guess, or something. Galadriel comforts the fucked-up Gandalf and then nine ghosts appear. These are the Nazgul from The Lord of the Rings. They talk smack, saying she’s all alone, when she reveals that she, in fact, is not, and is aided by Elrond (with a sweet, militaristic rendition of the Rivendell theme) and Saruman. (Yet all this does is make me want to watch The Lord of the Rings.) There’s a fight which is all right, and the weak Gandalf is revived by Lady Galadriel. Then Radaghast comes with his rabbit sleigh and good god. Galadriel tells Gandalf to get on the sleigh and he grabs her wrist and says “Come with me, my lady” with some slow motion shit, which makes me think they were trying to start some fucking romance shit between the two of them. In which case FUCKING HELL.
Gandalf and Rhada-not-in-the-book leave and we stay with Elrond, Galadriel, and Saruman, who, even in this, are minor characters. Why the fuck are we still here? Where is fucking Bilbo? (At this point, we haven’t seen him for like nine minutes). Sauron comes and starts talking mess, and Galadriel goes all crazy-mode and blast Sauron back over the hills. The three minor characters discuss some LOTR-foreshadowing, which seriously just makes me wanna watch LOTR instead. Gandalf and whoever the fuck that guy’s name return to R-ghast’s house and Gandalf is like “there’s gonna be a war”. But for reals, why is this shit even in here? This is like total fanfiction.
Then we’re back in Erebor, where Thorin is still being a fucker about not finding the Arkenstone, which makes me realize that this whole entire move, there has been no antagonism against Bilbo, which is fucking lame because, y’know, it’s a movie. Thorin says if anyone is keeping the Arkenstone from him (like Biblo is! At least we got some dramatic irony, fuck), he’ll kill them or something. And then he stomps off. Then Balin is crying because Thorin has the dragon sickness and dragon sickness drives people mad. Bilbo asks if Thorin had the Arkenstone, would it help, and Balin is like “no.”
After that, Bilbo is sitting around, looking at something in his lap when Thorin sees him and goes “What is that?!” MUSIC SWELL. (Seriously, there’s a fucking music swell here). Thorin makes him show what was in his hand, which is an acorn he took from Beorn’s garden. What follows is a great scene acted by Martin Freeman, aided by the trusty Shire theme, which is refreshing after a bunch of non-leit-motif and swelly-improvised music. A tender sentiment about the adventure is shared with the bonkers Thorin about adventure and stuff, and he smiles, but when Dwalin comes to tell him about the Lake People entering Dale, he gets all mad again because he has to fucking change attitudes every fucking scene.
And hey, we have some leit-motif of the Lake Town theme playing all sad when all the Lake People are sad walking around Dale. That shit is great! (I fuckin’ love leit-motif. And there should be a lot more of them.) Alfrid and Bard see that the Dwarves lived and I’m wondering why Alfrid is even in this fucking movie. At the ruined entrance of Erebor, dickhead Thorin is ordering everyone to seal up the gate. When Kili or whatever tells him “Hey, they have lost everything”, in an attempt to simply change his mind like in the scenes previous, Thorin is like “fuck them.” Now, I understand that Thorin has the D-sickness at this point, so you might screech “But Rammfan, of course he’s a dick, because he’s got the sickness in his brains!” And this would seem like a perfect time to bring up Thorin and why his character fucking confuses me. (Please note that I know Thorin becoming a jerk is indeed in the book).
During all three of these movies, he’s such an inconsistent character. When he first meets Bilbo, he thinks that the Hobbit is a sorry excuse for an adventurer. Fine. But Bilbo proves himself by saving them from the Trolls. Bilbo agrees to go with them onwards to the mountain, where there’s more shit, and when they all escape and can’t find Bilbo, Thorin claims the Hobbit has returned home because he doesn’t wanna adventure. Bilbo returns, tells him he’s committed to the cause, and blah blah action scene Bilbo saves Thorin. Amidst a rock formation, Thorin professes his appreciation for Bilbo, even hugging him and shit. And then, when we get to the second movie, he treats Bilbo like a total nuisance again. And then he congratulates Bilbo for making a good plan with those barrels. But then he’s rude to Bilbo again later. And even when Bilbo entered the fucking caves and shit, Thorin plans to gut him with a sword. And I’m sitting here like What the Flying Fuck?
Does Thorin like Bilbo or not? Is it an aspect of Dwarven royalty to be extremely moody? How many times can you have a character like someone and then not, and then like them again, and then not, and so on? It’s like Thorin is some shitty professor or father that Biblo can never get the approval of, no matter how many times Bilbo is a team player or SAVES HIS LIFE. It doesn’t make any sense and also doesn’t make Thorin likeable. Aren’t I supposed to like him? Like, isn’t he the Aragorn of these movies? Now look, it worked in the first movie. Thorin didn’t like Bilbo, whatever, and then Bilbo proved himself and then Thorin was like “You all right, bro!” Great character arc, they became friends! But that’s all undone in the second movie. And are they trying to do it again here? I don’t fucking get it. What if, at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke came up to Han Solo and Han Solo was like “Pff, you gonna fly a snowspeeder, kid? You don’t know shit.” We’d all be like “what the fuck?” because aren’t they friends now? Who have been through some shit and share a camaraderie of battle and adventure?
Even look to Gimli and Legolas’ relationship in LOTR. At first they hate each other out of prejudice, racism, what have you. By the end of the first film, they have been through some crazy adventures and battles together, and by the start of the second film, all the animosity that might have been there at first is gone. Note the “Come on, Gimli!” when they’re running along. Legolas even threatens to kill Eomer by shoving a prepped arrow right into his face when he threatened Gimli. And this continues on throughout the movies, so that at the end, they call each other friend and remain so seemingly in the days after the destruction of the Ring. This is how characters in movies become friends (and life, too!), and why Thorin’s strange “you are my friend”/”I am suspicious of you” thing doesn’t work. How can we like him if he never is friendly after he said he was going to be?
And another thing this does is make all the Dwarves look fucking stupid because they’re all following him. They might share warning glances, but they do what this megalomaniac says anyway. Why should I like any of these dumb characters? And also, Thorin actually loses hope about the finding the keyhole into Erebor. What a shitty fucking leader. Why should I like him? I’m going to pick up with the movie now, where Thorin has just decided to not follow through on his word to the people of Lake Town.
So, it’s morning again in Lake Town and Bard’s like “What? There’s an army of Elves here!” Bard walks through the ranks and I’m like “Has anything really happened in this movie yet? So far, it’s just been people preparing for stuff. And we’re already forty-two minutes in.” King Thranduil rides in on his big fake CGI-moose and brings food for the Lake People, but since he’s a dick, he’s only there to get a necklace from Erebor or whatever. Cut to Thorin holding up the gems, staring at them like a crazy person, and then throwing them down in quasi-disgust. Whatever. Remember how The Lord of the Rings was about, like, the most evil force in the world? And now this is about guys waging war over, like, jewelry? Not that men can’t like jewelry, but. . .stakes? Is this supposed to be engaging? Like, the main villain of the first two movies was Smaug, and yes, in the book, Smaug gets killed and then there’s a Battle of Five Armies, but in a movie, to focus so much on the reclamation of Erebor, finish that through-line, and then change the focus completely to the threats of minor roadblock characters is just, well…stupid. Maybe if they’d brought it up more in previous two movies, I don’t know.
So Bard goes to talk with Thorin and blah blah blah dumb shit and boring boring boring and padding padding padding and then Thorin is like “Why should I help you?” and Bard’s only argument is “Because you gave us your word.” Okay. This dialogue is amazing! Thorin tells him to fuck off and Bard rides away and YAY, Bilbo has some lines! Fucking finally. (His last line was ten minutes ago. Seriously, he is the main character. What the fuck is this shit?) Blah blah, Bard comes back to Thranduil and basically just restates what’s already been said in the movie before, making this movie way more boring and way longer than it needs to be.
While everyone starts preparing for war, we have a scene that is actually good where Thorin actually gives Bilbo his mithril vest (to be seen later in The Lord of the Rings!) And Thorin’s being nice to him, and then he turns into a fucking dick again because he’s all paranoid. He tells Bilbo one of the other Dwarves has taken the Arkenstone and blah blah. Thorin even changes mood mid-sentence: “For that I am grateful, it was nobly done, But the treasure of this mountain does not belong to the people of Lake Town“. And then Thorin says some line Smaug said about how greedy he is an I guess we’re supposed to worry. I don’t care.
And we’re with Legolas and Tauriel again, and we’re at the place called Gundabad, that place Legolas mentioned like thirty minutes ago for the first time. Apparently Gundabad is some other bad kingdom and there’s baddies and a long time ago, his mother died there, because there’s nothing better than learning the backstory of a character who was not in the book! This also touches on the gender roles slightly, but my whole spiel about women’s roles in these movies will come a bit later. (Start popping your popcorn now!)
Gandalf finally returns to Dale and Alfrid is a huge asshole, telling him to leave. Bard comes up and then the scene changes to Gandalf talking to both Bard and Thranduil in a tent, making the scene with Alfrid completely unnecessary (seriously, why did they even put it in the movie?) They don’t say much more than battle preparation shit. And then we see the Orcs marching toward Erebor, and then we’re back with Legolas and Tauriel and not Bilbo (fucking again). At Gundabad, some battle bats fly around, and the CG Orc dude is looking all mean, and says something in Orc, and a bunch of CGI-Orcs come running out to war. Oh man! Whatever.
Then there’s some shit with Gandalf and Thranduil and the Big T is a big dick again. Then Bilbo is on the screen again and we’re now into some scenes from the book, yay! Bilbo gives Thranduil, Gandalf, and Bard the Arkenstone, which he had stolen earlier. The scene that follows is excellently done because Martin Freeman rules as Bilbo and is his ridiculously under-featured in his own movie. As we pass the hour mark, we long for a movie that could have been better, or maybe a Hobbit movie that actually ended like four hours ago when it was supposed to.
Boring shit boring shit boring shit and then they’re talking and whatever, this movie is terrible. Thranduil and Bard come to the gates of Erebor and there’s more talking it is revealed that they have the Arkenstone. When Bilbo admits that he had given it to them, an honestly good scene follows where Bilbo explains his actions (seriously, we needed more Martin in this movie). Thorin wants to throw Biblo over the ramparts (because he has to hate/like Bilbo constantly) and it makes me think they handled this whole Dragon Sickness thing all wrong. Remember in LOTR, when Frodo was starting to get curt with Sam? When he was petting the Ring? When he told Sam to go home? He fucking told his best friend in the whole Middle-World to leave him alone, go home, one of the most dickish things ever, and we still cared about him. So why is it different that I don’t give two fucks about Thorin when he is down and out? Probably because he was a dick throughout all the movies up to this point. Oh yeah, forgot that part. Why didn’t they just do it the Frodo way?
No one wants to shove Bilbo over a wall, so Thorin says he will do it himself. Music swell! Gandalf comes and tells him not to do it. Suspend music. He decides not to do it. Another dumb little drama shit. And then there’s talking and stuff and Bard asks Thorin if he will have peace or war. Then a big-ass bird flies and lands by Thorin, and they did it with computer because birds are creatures made up by Tolkien and you definitely can’t find a bird here on Earth and definitely can’t train them to be in movies, especially to just FLY AND LAND IN A CERTAIN SPOT. (I mean, come on. Even Harry Potter had OWLS and shit. And real ones. Like, TRY.).
My goodness, Rammfan, don’t you think this is getting a little long?
Yes, it is long. Just like these movies. Just like this Hobbit trilogy, which should have ended like 4 fucking hours ago. I’ve been going on a while, but no, I owe it to my love of LOTR to watch every Illuvitar-damn minute of this thing and tell you why it fucking blows.
So, anyway, fucking Thorin’s cousin Dain shows up with his army, which is fine (it’s in the book!). So then we get Dain, who is fucking computer-generated.
Why is fucking Dain computer-generated, man?! As I understand it, the filmmakers wanted Billy Connolly to voice Dain, which he did, and did so well. But then either he was too sick to play the part, or they said the make-up lost “too much” of Billy Connolly, so they re-did it digitally and WHY THE FUCK IS HE COMPUTER? It looks fucking ridiculous! I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen what humans photographed looks like and can more often than not tell when a human 1) doesn’t look photographed and 2) isn’t moving how a human moves just right. Is this a movie with computer effects? Or is it a CG-animated movie with some people in it? (And seriously, if you loved the performance of Billy Connolly, then just get a guy to be Dain but use B’s voice. That’d at least look real). Makes me so fucking mad. *spits flame all over*
There’s shitty dialogue and then the Elves (which I’m pretty sure are CG, too, WHY ARE THEY FUCKING CG?!) move into formation. Seriously, dress up a fucking buncha dudes in the armor. You did it in The Lord of the Rings and it looked fucking fine. No, it looked great! And we all had our jaws on the fuckin’ floor. Whatever. Just as the CGI Elves get ready to attack the CGI Dwarves, these fucking worm things come out of the ground and then the White Orc is there and tells his armies to come forth. The Orc army charges, and the blah blah blah and there’s a bunch of fighting (who fucking cares anymore?) And then they attack Dale and shit and people fall back to Dale it’s all very computery and makes me want to die.
Bard comes back to Dale and is looking for his children, and some old dude tells him that Stone Street has been taken and the market has been overrun. (How the fuck were they even in Dale long enough to establish streets? They just fucking got there. Unless it was already named Stone Street, but how would anyone know that? Who fucking cares.). So there’s fighting and fighting and fighting and Alfrid is being a coward and not fighting and UGH.
And then Bard’s daughters run screaming from an Orc and, just as the blade comes down on them, their brother leaps out with a sword and kills it! And then he kills the other Orc while the two girls just hang around nearby. Then the three siblings are almost attacked by this ugly-ass Troll guy, but their father has seen them (!) and does some Legolas shit with a cart and kills it or whatever. Bard tells his non-book family to get to the great hall because Dale is lost. He even tells Alfrid to guide all the women and children to the great hall, opening up a scummy-fucker-turned-hero arc for Alfrid (we’ll have to see how that ends up!)
But now, we’re going to do a quick aside in Three Parts. Get your popcorn out of the microwave: It’s time for Women’s Roles in the Hobbit Movies!, a.k.a You Promise There Won’t Be a Love Triangle, Right?
All right, let’s do this. So, in the span of these movies, the filmmakers invented the character of Tauriel because The Hobbit is a bit of a sausage fest. Seriously, as much as I say to STICK TO THE DAMN SOURCE MATERIAL, that would mean there could no women at all, for I do not think there is one woman in the entirety of the novel. The only woman mentioned by name is Bilbo’s mother, who, at the beginning of the tale, has long-since been deceased. So we get Tauriel, fine. Good.
I won’t get into a whole thing here, but as feminist, lover and appreciator of women and their actions and opinions, I do think that our usually-male-dominated movies could use some more gender diversity. Why not have a badass elf woman? This obviously conflicts with my stubbornness to stick the source material, but let’s just say for the sake of argument that I’m fine with it. So, Tauriel is a badass, and she’s awesome. So, what do we do with a woman character who is badass. Why, GIVE HER A FUCKING LOVE STORY!
It’s like the filmmakers have no idea what to do with the women characters. It’s like they couldn’t have just made her a badass who remains a badass and doesn’t crumble like post-Ring Barad-dur at the sight of the dashing dwarf Kili. Not that people in love aren’t badass, but it’s lame to see a character invented for these movies to give women someone to root for, only to have her fall into the same tropey shit they see in all other movies! Why couldn’t they just make her a strong elf warrioress who loves her nation and isn’t all caught up in a romance, much less a love triangle? Evangeline Lilly even agreed to do the Hobbit under the agreement there would BE NO LOVE TRIANGLE. She probably didn’t want one because, I don’t know, she did that for like six years on LOST, when she played another crazy, super-awesome badass who was also stuck between the affections of two men. It’s like a casting position she won’t be able to escape. So, good job, P.J. and crew for doing the exact same-ass thing, especially when you said you weren’t going to. Fucking A.
And speaking of added female characters, let’s get to Bard’s added daughters. Once again, I acknowledge that we need more female characters in our action movies (and just movies in general). Great, maybe the daughters will give a young female audience someone to root for as well. They’re about the teenage age, so maybe they could be like a Middle-Earth Katniss! So what do the filmmakers do with Bard’s daughters? Make them hide and scream from Orcs the whole fucking movie, while the son goes around, helping his dad and grabbing a sword and slaying monsters. What the fuck? You have a perfect opportunity to show how strong women can be in the face of danger. What happens when Orcs break into their home in the Desolation of Smaug? The son and the Dwarves fight the Orcs, while the two daughters scream and hide under the table. (To be fair, I think the older daughter did throw some flowers at one. . .yep. . .). Come the third movie, it’s the brother who goes to help the dad defeat Smaug while the two girls sit on the boat and are all worried for him. During the attack on Dale, they run around screaming and let their brother kill Orcs for them. How fucking insulting.
Granted, the youngest daughter might be too young and little to wield a blade, but even the helpless Merry and Pippin threw rocks at some Uruk-Hai (and Bilbo even throws rocks at Orcs later in this very same movie). Hell, the Ewoks killed some stormtroopers. There couldn’t have been a scene where the oldest daughter and the younger one helped the brother out kill some Orcs? Or where the oldest daughter, who is the oldest of them, sought to protect her younger siblings and took upon herself to trust in some steel? Did the daughters not use swords and be strong because there was no one for them to have a love triangle with? So Illuvitar-damn annoying.
Which brings me to the third part of this aside: Dead Women as sympathetic device. This only happens twice in these movies, but that’s two times too many. The first occurrence is when Balin says to Bard, “Aye, I bet your wife is pretty pretty!” and Bard says, “Aye, she was.” AWWW, poor fucking Bard. And the second time is all dealing with Legolas, who’s mother fucking died at Gundabad or something and makes him all mopey.
Now, I am (mostly) not insensitive. The loss of a spouse or parent is a terrible thing to experience. But the only reason these dead women are mentioned is so that we feel bad/understand the motivation of the male characters. Ya get me? You wanna make an audience feel bad for a male character? Give him a dead wife! You want make us feel bad for an elf? Give him a dead mother! Seriously. Did they even think about it? Using dead women as a device for this is so automatic in stories like these, it makes me wonder if they even thought about any other thing to make us feel sympathetic for them. I mean, you add in a whole Bard family. Why not add in a wife? Is it impossible to believe that Bard could have a wife who hasn’t yet died due to the harsh winters of Esgaroth? A wife who could then be strong and have agency of her own? And Legolas already has scuffles with his father (and is already involved in that stupid love triangle), so why do we have to give him a dead mother? To make us feel even more for him? Man, fuck that.
So, in the end, I have to commend them for their intentions, but yet facepalm for reinforcing the same damn tropes we’ve seen all the time. Let’s add women into The Hobbit, and make them helplessly in love, helplessly helpless, or dead. Yeah! Shame. And thus, the aside ends and we return to the film.
So, battling continues, this time in more of a montage moment, which some actually quite good, slow, emotional music from Howard Shore. Thranduil’s computer moose dies (good! The less CGI the better), as does Dain’s computer pig (fucking A), and then CGI Dain is fighting and it looks like a damn video game cutscene. Remember the cutscenes for World of Warcraft and the first Dragon Age? Yeah, it looks like that. When the battle looks the most grim, we come back to Thorin, who is trying to be persuaded by Dwalin to fight. Thorin is being an ass again because of the D-sickness, and Dwalin calls him out on it. Then Thorin cries a bit (?) and tells Dwalin to leave. Dwalin does, and in the next scene, Thorin has taken some heavy-ass drugs and is tripping balls in the great hall (where he, y’know, defeated Smaug with a big CGI gold statue in the last movie. . .god. . .) At last, the words of his peers and friends have gotten into his dumb brain and he throws his crown aside, and his D-sickness, and might, just MIGHT remain a good character until the very end of the movie (or maybe he’ll cut Biblo’s throat. We can never know with Thorin).
Thorin returns to the entrance of Erebor and Kili says “I will not hide behind a wall of stone while others fight our battles for us! It’s not in my blood, Thorin!” While this is much appreciated, why didn’t he just fucking fight then? Thorin had been gone quite a while, all holed up in his throne room, and Bilbo used the rope to climb down the outer wall like twice already. So why didn’t Kili just fucking climb down and fight with Dain? I DON’T GET IT. GOD. And then everyone starts moving quickly for some reason and it’s because I’m fast-forwarding. Thorin stands before his group of bros and asks them if they will stand with him “one last time”, but it feels not like he’s asking them, but rather asking us. “Hey, you’ve been with this dragged-out shit for like seven hours at this point. Will you still hang in there just a little bit? It’s just ten more million hours.” Fuck that, man.
Bombur the Dwarf blows a big-ass horn, announcing the return of Thorin and his 12 warrior buddies. We see a shot of Bilbo for the first time in forever, and then there’s battling battling and battling (well, battle is in the name of the movie, I guess). In the great hall, where all the women have been assembled, this lady who has been given lines in this movie rallies that the women should fight along with their men, which is fucking awesome (oh my god, a woman character doing something!). They try to get this old woman to fight, but it’s really just Alfrid dressed up as an old lady. They diss him and call him a coward for not wanting to fight, and he might just feel bad about it, but then he sees a pot get knocked over that was full of gold. We cut away just then. (Is he gonna fight? Is he gonna turn down the gold and help save the day? Let’s see!)
Cut to the field before the battle and Thorin and Dain are fighting. There’s some terrible-ass CGI Dain shit, followed by a shot of two guys hugging, in CG. Now, seriously. You can’t even get a fuckin’ dude to dress up in Dain’s costume and hug Thorin? You have to CGI it? Dain isn’t even facing the camera for Christ’s sake. What the fuck is this shit? WHY IS EVERYTHING, even simple-ass shit, COMPUTER? Thorin gets on a CGI ram and him and couple others charge toward Azog’s post and I’m like “Um…when was the last time Bilbo did fucking anything in this movie?”
So little fake-looking versions of Thorin, Dawlin, and the -ili brothers charge up the fake-looking mountain on their fake ram mounts. Once they reach the top, they dismount and fight some more Orcs. Just at this moment, Legolas and Tauriel return from Gundabad and apparently Legolas knows Gandalf (okay). Leggy reports that there’s another army coming from the north, and that, uh oh, Thorin and those guys are up there in the north! They have to go, I dunno, help them or some shit. Back up on the mountain, the group separates (because this movie needs to be even longer), and then some more computer-generated goblins attack them. (Sigh)
Back in Dale, King Thranduil is like “A lot of my elves have died,” and calls off his participation in the Battle of Five Hours. When the Big T doesn’t wanna go help Thorin, Bilbo volunteers to go and Martin Freeman rules. Then we’re back with Thranduil, who wants to leave, but, gasp, Tauriel is stopping him. (God, isn’t this shit over yet?) She tells him he will go no further and that the dwarves will die, blah blah. When he doesn’t give a shit, she points a poised arrow at him (music swell!). She says there’s no love in him and then he chops her bow in half and says she knows nothing of love and WHATEVER. At the end of the scene, Legolas volunteers to go with Tauriel to the Thorin mountain place. All right.
Cut to Alfrid, still dressed as a woman, carrying his big pile of gold. A troll almost kills him, but then it is shot by Bard (person saved at the last minute #1 in this film). Alfrid is talking to Bard about how he is dumb or something for not taking up the title of Master of Lake Town. When Bard’s like I DID IT FOR MY FAMILY, Alfrid runs away and then we never see him again in the whole movie. Now we’ve reached the culmination Alfrid’s story! Remember, above, when I was like “let’s see how his story ends?” and well, it just ends. He went from being a greedy, smarmy dick to still being a greedy, smarmy dick, which makes me wonder why the fuck he was even in this movie at all (characters are usually supposed to change, y’know? And those that don’t usually die). How powerful a message would it have been had Alfrid had (and we all know Alfrid is a dick) the opportunity to either choose between riches or helping his people, and he helped his people?! Instead, we just get him being a dick the entire time, and then dressing up as a woman for comedic effect (which has it’s own whole fuckin’ thing. Cross-dressing as a joke? Goodness gracious…)
The lame, no-arc Alfrid fuckin’ leaves the movie and we can finally get back to Bilbo, who, like, is the titular HOBBIT. Biblo arrives at Thorin mountain and tells them about the army, blah, and they’re like “Oh, this is a trap.” They’re a little late in realizing it, because some drums sound and then, gasp, Azog the Defiler has Fili. Oh no! I am so fucking invested. Fili is killed and then dropped and blah and fuck me is this still going on? Kili, very angered by the death of his brother, charges up to where the Computer Orc was, but the Computer Orc is already fighting Thorin amidst After Effects fog (seriously, this superimposed-ass fog, man).
The Gundabad Orcs arrive and Bilbo nearly gets his head cut off, but Dwalin comes to help (someone being saved at the last second #2). The whole score swells as the Gundabad bats fly into the battle, and Tauriel sees Kili is fighting some CG monsters. Shots of fighting. Fighting, fighting, fighting. And Legolas is holding onto a big-ass bat’s legs. Back with Bilbo, he’s throwing some rocks at some Orcs, and just as this one turns a corner, he smacks Bilbo in the face with the back-end of his mace, and poor Bilbo is knocked out cold. Do I even want to get into how this makes no fucking sense, since every Orc ever has just simply killed everyone with no hesitation? How ridiculous it is that this Orc just smacked the Hobbit instead of, I dunno, waiting a sec to just crush Bilbo dead? I don’t care anymore. Fuck.
Fighting fighting fighting, and then a buncha Orcs are charging toward Thorin. But no! Arrows start coming down from above (someone being saved at the last second #3) from Legolas. This is followed shortly by Someone Being Saved At the Last Second #4, when Kili saves Tauriel from being bludgeoned by Computer Orc #2. This leads to a fight (no, really, guys, a fight!), and then Tauriel attempts the Someone Being Saved At The Last Second #5, but fails. Then Kili gets stabbed in front of her and we’re supposed to care. Kili looks to Tauriel, and she looks back at him, with slow, “sad” music, and it just makes me think of better onscreen romances like Ms. Hepburn and Mr. Peck in Roman Holiday that created a bigger connection in like way less the time.
Blah blah and then Legolas is going to fight Bolg on a fallen tower that now serves as a bridge over a tall chasm (finally, we get set-up for an action scene). (This scene is well thought-out, yet the computer-y of it makes it shrug-worthy. Remember in Casino Royale when the real actors were running around on those high places? Or Temple of Doom, when Indy and his pursuers were high above the bridge? Remember how cool that was?!) Thorin fights a whoever whatever and then he’s on his back and about to get squashed by another Computer Orc’s axe or spear or whatever, who raises it up all slow-motion like. But then Legolas throws a sword into the chest of the beast! (Fulfilled someone being saved at the last second #5).
And more fighting and my god, battle fatigue, and my god, so much computer shit. Azog and Thorin battle and shit, and then the Eagles show up! Yay! And they fly toward the army and FUCKING RADAGHAST IS ON ONE OF THEM, GOD. (Sigh). Azog was looking watching the Eagles rip up his Orcs and Thorin just decided not to stab him right in the neck because, I dunno, he’s fucking stupid, I guess. Azog, at the heavyness of his own weapon, falls under some ice and we presume he is dead. But of course he’s not. OF COURSE HE’S NOT. Because these movies need to be unnecessarily padded to a Tolkien-describing-trees degree. So, of course, Azog comes alive again and busts through the ice. They have a little sword thing and they both get stabbed during it and Azog dies and yay this terrible experience might soon be over.
Bilbo awakes from his bonk on the head and Thorin is dying. Thorin delivers his death speech, but at this point, can I ever really be sure that he likes Bilbo or not, so I don’t care. At least it is well acted by both, and delivers the nice message that if people valued home more then money, the world wouldn’t fucking have to suck so much for so many people. (Or: If studios valued quality more than gold, then they would make better movies). Thorin breathes his last and yep.
At battle’s end, Tauriel is crying over the Dwarf she knew for like two seconds. Thranduil is walking around and comes upon his son, Legolas. They talk about some dumb shit and then Thranduil tells him to look for the Ranger called Strider (cue “Fellowship” theme, which is fucking awesome). Then Thranduil tells him that his mother loved him, and more than anyone. More dead mother shit. Leggy leaves and Lee Pace stumbles upon the saddened Tauriel and Kili’s corpse. The dialogue that follows in pain-inducing, shout-at-the-screen. “If this is love I do not want it. . .why does it hurt so much?” And then Thranduil tells her “because it was real.” GOOD GOD, I’m out.
Then I fast forward to the end of the movie and it’s over, yay, finally!
All right everyone. Sorry you had to endure that long and arduous movie rant. (Well, I’m not sorry, actually). So what was I trying to say with all of this?
First off, I’d like to remind you all how good The Lord of the Rings truly is. I know, I am a fanboy, but the LOTR trilogy was a marvel in old and new special effects, had excellent acting, won multiple awards, had an amazing score, and became a cultural cave troll. With the extra features, you could see that the filmmakers were really trying to make the best project they possibly could. “The Lord of the Rings, unfilmable?” they asked, and then went on ahead anyway. And through thought and more thought and draft after draft, they pretty much nailed it. Sure, maybe the Ghost Army kind of comes out of nowhere, or The Return of the King had “too many endings”, or there were some slight departures from the text, but for the most part, you’re transported to Middle-Earth and experience the trials of A-gorn and Leggy and F-do and wow, I must be really tired by now.
And not only did the story receive a great amount of thought. The costumes, and locations, the make-up effects, the models. In a time when CGI was beginning to become more mainstream, LOTR used all methods of special effects to make things happen. Giant models (Helm’s Deep, Orthanc, Minas Tirith, Bridge of Khazad-Dum), hours of prosthetics (all the Hobbit actors, Lurtz), stunt-men, extras in suits, and so on. They used CGI only when necessary (large armies, crazy large beasts), and even when we knew it was computer, we were so entranced by everything real-looking we didn’t care as much. At Helm’s Deep: a shot of actors dressed as Elves, then a shot of actors in Uruk make-up, the Uruk-leader in make-up, then a large CGI shot of the whole army, then right back to guys in suits. It was amazing, it looked real, and it took us to other places.
With The Hobbit, we are given barely any delights into models or make-up. No models were created for The Hobbit trilogy, and whether this was done out of laziness, or because you couldn’t film them in 3-D (another stupid gimmick thing that no one cares about), it makes me quite sad. Nothing looks more real than something being photographed, PERIOD. Even after it’s comped into a scene with some computer-y background. Let’s take a look at what legendary Stan Fucking Winston said about The Lord of the Rings‘ special effects, from the Terminator 2 Special Features stuff: “There were digital effects, there were live-action make-up effects. There was a mix, there was a blend, there was a world, there was a constant mix of digital technology, miniatures, live-action. It was magic. Because a brilliant director didn’t rely on any one technology to tell his story.” And now look where we’re at.
And the locations! In The Lord of the Rings, we had real, beautiful locations. You want to know why the background of Amon Hen looks so gorgeous? Because it’s completely real. Or why the vista behind Caradhras is so glorious? Because it’s completely real. You want to know why Edoras, the sweeping vista behind it looks so awe-inspiring? Because it is 100% real. The Amon Hen forest, the mountains behind the Edoras refugees, the Pinnacles National Park.
In The Hobbit, you have people in front of a sea of green. But Rammfan, they can’t film everything at a location! Indeed not, nor can they build massive sets. But they sure could have built the gate of Erebor on the side of a real cliff, or, I dunno, at least go to a lake and build the Lake Town set on the shore of it. One scene that I quite like (and the music of it, as well), is in the second film, when Biblo sticks his head above the Mirkwood trees, takes in the fresh air and the beautiful view. And yet none of this beautiful view is real. As Smaug says “Not one piece of it”. And that sucks. And the Lonely Mountain? I don’t think there’s one shot of it that isn’t computer. You’re telling me they couldn’t fly around and find a fucking mountain? For LOTR, they looked high and low for all types of locales, but this time around, they couldn’t be fuckin’ bothered.
And same with the story. Adding in a love triangle? Adding in all this other crap? Remember, way back when team PJ was making The Lord of the Rings, and originally, Arwen was going to be participating in the battle of Helm’s Deep? It’s true! They did this in an attempt to not only give Arwen a bigger role than the book, but to have her and Aragorn close-by. So how do you, really, have a romance, if the two characters are miles and miles apart (and can’t like Skype date. Maybe if they both had Palantiri?). So, Arwen coming to Helm’s Deep was their solution, until the Internet and their own brains were like THAT IS A DUMB IDEA and in the words of producer Mark Ordesky “this isn’t working”. Which was followed right after by WE SHOULD CHANGE IT. And so they thought about it some more, and came up with some flashbacky scenes for Arwegorn (or would it be Arawen?). And it was great. They thought about it.
Very different nowadays. Oh, we thought it’d be fun this. Oh, we thought it’d be good that, with very little time to stop and think Hmm, maybe that is a dumb idea. (When the decision was made to turn the movies from 2 into 3, they had about a year to create enough to material to fill up Desolation, which is probably why it all sucks). PJ even knows that the end of The Desolation of Smaug, in which Thorin and Company fuck around with Smaug for like ten hours in Erebor, was perhaps not the right thing to do. From the commentary: “I mean, this whole sequence really, and now we’re talking from here to the end, it was an extended sequence that was created because we needed a climactic action sequence for this film. And I know that sounds terribly Hollywood and terribly hoakey, and is probably going to and, well, did upset, is upsetting Tolkien fans, which is understandable, but nonetheless, we’re filmmakers having to deliver a film”. Oh, Peter, how could you?
I won’t go on much longer, because by now you should be getting the point, but let me point out the fact that this shit is three movies. I might have been convinced that this little children’s novel should be turned into two films, for there are many trials and trips along the road. But three films? Any reference to this splitting from two to three by Peter Jackson or Fran Walsh is always alluded to as “the decision.” “When the decision was made to turn two movies into three,” “after the decision was made”, bleh. Yet, they don’t ever say who made the decision.
The two-part idea might have been that of the screenwriters, but I have a hunch the two-to-three move was that of the studio, looking at the growing budget of these movies and saying “If we want to make a profit, we have to make people pay at the theater three times.” Voila. The first one made 1.01 billion worldwide, the second 960 million, and the third, 955.1 million, giving us a grand total of 2.925 billion, 3.9 times the budget of the film (which is very, very profitable). That’s quite a lot of coin! If there had been one Hobbit film, and let’s give it another third of the first movie’s gross (because maybe more people would see it if it was just one thing), it’d have grossed 1.34 billion. So, what’s better, making three films with and making 2, 187, 490, 211 more than your budget? Or having one film and making 1, 152, 614, 745 afterwards? By splitting up the shit, they’ve made a whole 1.89 times more money. And if you think the ridiculous splitting up of movies wasn’t just motivated by money, then you haven’t been too far out of the Shire.
How It Could Have Been Done Better
“All right, fine, Rammfan. You’ve spent your time complaining about everything bad. Well, how would you have done it?” As with most of these narrative rants I’ve done (There’s some Star Wars ones here and here), I always try and offer up a way it could have been done better, like, ideal-world type kind of thing.
A few friends of mine, who love The Hobbit movies FOR SOME REASON, have expressed to me the idea “But Rammfan, how could you possibly make The Hobbit into one movie?” (As if this is some fucking impossible feat.) Easily. It’d probably employ some of skills Peter Jackson and crew used fifteen years ago when turning the 93, 895-more-words-than-the-Hobbit The Fellowship of the Ring into one movie. The way they turned the 60, 842 more-words-than-the-Hobbit The Two Towers into one movie. The way they turned the 41,759 more-words-than-the-Hobbit The Return of the King into one movie. Seriously, they turned Fellowship into one film, and the Hobbit divides into that 1.96 times. Fellowship is almost twice as long! And yet, they managed.
Cut out the singing, cut out Beorn (he’s the Tom Bombadil this time around), curtail some of the longer parts, condense that a bit, condense this a bit, DON’T ADD ANY DUMB SHIT, keep Bilbo and BILBO ALONE the focus of the movie, make the battle of Five Armies like ten minutes and Bilbo’s your uncle, you’ve got a tight, three hour movie. Not fucking hard. Wtih such a tight movie, we needn’t get lost in wayward storylines of background characters that don’t need to fill in any minutes.
On the technical side, go to real locations, as many as you can. Show us the wonders of New Zealand and make our jaws drop on the floor again. Astonish us with the details of your models and craftsmanship. Stage fights between stunt performers in suits and make-up, who look real to our eyes and move real to the physics of our world. Make us believe Middle-Earth is believable once again by leaving out the computer everything. And maybe, just maybe, you could buy a fucking fog machine when you need some fog.
Don’t go out blaring that you’ve filmed the whole thing in 48 frames per second! Or “hey, it’s in 3D now!” Come out like you did 15 years ago, with the declaration that you love this source material and tried your absolute best to make the best thing you possibly could.
Just like in Annie Lennox’s “Into the West,” we have come to journey’s end. What was this all about, anyway? I guess, when it all comes down to it, a lament for so many things. A lament for a director who took stock in practical effects and enchanted us on the screen and no longer does that. A director who understood that photographed models were better than computer versions and no longer does that. A director who understood epic vistas could never compare to what could be created with ones and zeros. A lament for the missed opportunity of making one, really great film. One great adaptation of a beloved book for more than 80 years. A piece of art that could be watched over and over, in line with the three wonderful films that had been made already. A sad realization that movie studios will continue to break books in half or into thirds for the almighty gold, at the expense of artistic merit. Fuckin’ A. What a damn shame.
It could have been so good. It really could have.