elaby: (LotR - Gandalf smoky)
[personal profile] elaby
We saw The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on Tuesday! And as I’m suffering somewhat from post-series withdrawal, I wanted to blather on a bit about it.

I can’t believe it’s over ;_; SILMARILLION MOVIE, ANYONE? RIGHT? RIGHT?
T_T

On the whole, I really enjoyed the Hobbit movies a great deal. They were lighter in tone than the LotR movies (but not as light as the book) and they felt like they kept in the spirit of the other films. In the interest of organization, I think I’ll break this up a bit XD



Bilbo
Martin Freeman did a fantastic job. His expressions were about the hobbityest I’ve ever seen, and I think he was the perfect choice as Bilbo. In terms of hobbityness, everybody in the LotR films except Elijah Wood gets high marks from me, but I think it’s especially important that Bilbo be extra hobbity, and Martin Freeman certainly was. (I’m not sure how exactly I define “hobbityness,” by the way, but it includes an important mix of reluctant, exasperated, down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is realism, and a courage that’s selective – not brainlessly brave but brave when the situation is right, as a hobbit would deem it.)

That said, the only thing about Bilbo in the movies that disappointed me was that REALLY THERE OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN MORE HUGGING. I mean. It’s already been established that hobbits are huggy people. No farewell group hugpile with the dwarves? None from Gandalf when he discovers that Bilbo made it to the mountain alive, or after Thorin dies? (Fine, that’s all quite true to the original, much to my chagrin. But I confess to a bit of a headcanon that grew out of the book – when Bilbo goes off alone after saying goodbye to Thorin on his deathbed, Gandalf joins him later and they sit in silence until Bilbo comments on how much this all sucks and Gandalf puts his arm around him and Bilbo leans into him and it’s adorable etc. AND IT ALMOST HAPPENED IN THE MOVIE, but then Gandalf just fiddled loudly with his pipe and it was super awkward and I was like WTF PEOPLE, HUG PLS.)

Moving on…

Gandalf
Ian McKellan could not be more perfect. He is my head-Gandalf in human form. I’ve always liked Gandalf the Grey better than Gandalf the White, so these movies were an utter delight to watch. I approve whole-heartedly of the extra bits they added; since Gandalf is MIA for a lot of the book and only mentions in passing where he’d been, it was awesome to see what he was up to during those times. One of the things I love about Ian McKellan’s performance in all the films is that while pretty much everyone else who is accustomed to battle looks fierce and angry while fighting, Gandalf always looks horrified. He’s one of the most badass fighters you could hope for, but you can see on his face that the death-toll is uppermost in his mind. He’s the only one in the majority of these battles who understands the big picture. He’s got a lot on his shoulders for a guy who may or may not remember that he’s a demi-god :\

But my favorite thing, my FAVORITE FAVORITE thing, is the way Gandalf in the movies interacts with Galadriel. *incoherent flailing* When he meets her in Rivendell he’s in awe of her, almost shy. A normal reaction to being in the presence of the oldest elf in Middle-earth (aside from Cirdan, who I assume is still over in the Gray Havens making boats at this point) and the wisest and most powerful of the Noldor to ever be born – but he’s a Maia, for heaven’s sake, even if he may not exactly remember it. On the celestial ladder, he’s certainly higher up than elves. But he treats her with an almost self-conscious reverence, and I adore it, because we never see that side of him.

Which brings me to…

Galadriel
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I can’t even.

But I’ll try XD There could be no better choice for Galadriel than Cate Blanchett. Regal and wise and proud and merry and terrifying – her Galadriel is everything I imagined her to be. I think my absolute favorite part of all three Hobbit movies is when Galadriel sweeps in and rescues Gandalf from Dol Guldur, because she does it with such casual grace. That silent white wave of power that she sends out gave me chills. And then, ajfkladjfsa, don’t get me started on the part where she turns back the Necromancer and sends him skittering back to Mordor. *flappyhands* It was PERFECT. (I could have done without the tattered zombie-dress they decided to put her in for the few seconds where she was going full-on not-of-this-earth, but whatever.) And DID YOU SEE, she had the PHIAL, the one she gives Frodo later that Sam uses to get past the gatekeepers at Cirith Ungol, with the LIGHT OF ELBERETH AND OMFGGGG *SWOONS* She is so freaking terrifying and awe-inspiring and I’m SO GLAD that the filmmakers gave her that. She is the most powerful elf existing at the time of the books (and maybe ever?) so I was utterly grateful that they acknowledged that instead of giving the victory to one of the male characters.

I loved how they built up to that scene, too. She so easily rescued Gandalf but it clearly cost her something, and she seemed practically spent by the time Radagast showed up with his rabbit sled (<3333) to take Gandalf off. I almost died when Gandalf asked her to come with them to safety (omg Gandalf you are so adorable and you must have no idea who you’re talking to) and she scared them off with a little lash of glowy elf-power XD

After it was all over and we were watching Elrond support her, Rachel whispered “She’s, like, his mother-in-law, right?” And I said “Yes” and she was all “…That’s not intimidating or anything.” XD

(Side note: For real. And Celebrian, Elrond’s wife, is no longer in Middle-earth because she was kidnapped and tortured by orcs, and although Elladan and Elrohir rescued her, she couldn’t bear to stay and went over the sea to the Undying Lands. Imagine Elrond trying to explain THAT to Galadriel.)

Dwarves
The dwarves were given a lot more individual personality than in the book XD Which was really quite nice. I have this incredibly awesome concept art book of the first movie that I got last year on clearance, and it shows all of the dwarves’ weapons/gear and tells about the personality traits and backgrounds that the actors and writers developed for them. Balin will always be my favorite forever, and I’m not sure when that started, but I think it’s because he’s the nicest to Bilbo. He was wonderful in the movies and I pretty much wanted to hug him all the time. (Also I wanted Bilbo to hug him. There were many points when both of them needed it.)

Next to Thorin, of course, Fili and Kili got the most plotline-boosting. They were charming and I loved them both. (Although I just can’t get over the not-full-bearded dwarves – obviously an attempt to make them hotter, which I think was kind of silly, or maybe to make acting easier? But whatever.) I knew they were probably doomed, since they die in the book, but I was actually expecting one of them to live (probably Fili) and take the throne as Thorin’s heir. So much for that! O_o Poor Fili came to a rather quick and skimmed-over end, which was unfortunate.

Honestly, I thought the romance subplot with Kili and Tauriel was adorable. Kili is the cutest little puppy-dwarf and I thought Tauriel was a really cool character (I’ll get into that later). MOSTLY, though, I loved it because Legolas was all *heart eyes* at her and Tauriel was like “Err, no thanks, bro.” THANK YOU FOR HAVING A FEMALE REJECT LEGOLAS. Nothing against Legolas – he’s always been one of my favorites – but he is undeniably a main object of fannish lust and the fact that they purposefully didn’t throw a girl at him made me really, really happy.

Now, about Thorin ¬_¬ I get it that they needed an Aragorn, and that Thorin in the book is not exactly likable (which makes his dying a whole lot less traumatic, and makes Bilbo’s grief more about how kind he is and less about how close the two of them were). I can see, absolutely, why they’d want to make Bilbo and Thorin better friends rather than stick with the pompous, stubborn, greedy Thorin of the book. It makes perfect sense, and I’m not sure why it doesn’t sit well with me, but it just doesn’t.

I guess I just didn’t like the fact that they felt they needed to make him young and hot :\ They could’ve softened Thorin a bit while still keeping him older. Admittedly, most of my images of characters from The Hobbit are heavily influenced by the Rankin-Bass cartoon from the ‘70s, so for all I know, maybe Thorin isn’t supposed to be that old anyway. [Ten minutes of research later…] No, Thorin was almost 200 when The Hobbit begins. So yeah, he’s old XD

Because they made so many changes to him to make him more likable, but they had to keep the personality traits of his that drove the plot, I felt like it was hard to like him even though we were supposed to. There were wonderful parts where Bilbo being ADORABLE made Thorin all soft smiles and fondness, and I appreciated those. Other than that, I just got fed up with him. The brooding, angsty type is not mine anymore. I kind of laughed at how much the “dragon sickness” was emphasized, because it was obviously an attempt by the filmmakers to cover up Tolkien’s vaguely racist “dwarves are greedy and that’s just how they get around gold” thing.

I was really fine with the whole addition of Azog, since I expected them to do something to address the NEED! MORE! BATTLES! problem. The battles in BotFA were really good, too – varied enough to be interesting, which was good since they took up so much of the movie. And I expected them to, so I wasn’t even a little bored (I like watching good pre-automatic-weapon battles anyway).

Dem Elves
Holy crap, Lee Pace’s Thranduil is FANTASTIC. Nobody else in all the films has quite captured the alien, otherworldly, xenophobic side of Tolkien’s elves like Lee Pace does. I saw a gif on Tumblr a while ago that showed Thranduil and the caption said “Son, I left all my fucks back in the Second Age” and that pretty much sums up my opinion of movie!Thranduil. The way he stared at people, omg XD Like they were objects of mild interest but no actual consequence. He just does not care, and I love it. Also, he rides a battle elk.

The addition of random tidbits about Legolas’s mother made me go “??” but, again, whatever. As far as I know, there’s no mention of her whatsoever in any of Tolkien’s writings, which is a bummer (but not altogether unexpected e_e). It was cool that they said she died at the battle of Gundabad, which gave her some kind of agency. And it was implied that Thranduil is such a frigid jerk because of her death. I guess I’m glad they mentioned her, but it didn’t seem to connect to anything or have very much meaning, even though they tried to cram in a parallel between Thranduil’s coldheartedness and Tauriel’s loss of Kili.

Speaking of Tauriel! I liked her. I was so afraid for her before I saw the first movie because there was such a horrific fan uproar over her existence before it even came out. People online have pointed out that adding a female role could have been done by expanding one of the characters from the legendarium (few though they were) instead of making up a new one, and I agree that that would’ve been awesome too, but I really did like her. [Also, research leads me to understand that Peter Jackson only has rights to The Hobbit and LotR/the Appendixes, so he couldn’t pull from anything else.] I thought Tauriel’s budding relationship with Kili was endearing (especially since, as the elf, she was the older and more experienced and wiser one while Kili was the bright-eyed noob) although – again, as people online have said – it’s unfortunate that to add a female character they also had to add a romance subplot. She could have just been BFFs with Kili and that would have been just as adorable (and more in line with the themes of LotR in general). I liked how she rebelled against the wood-elves’ policy of ignoring turmoil in the outside world. I liked how she didn’t get along with Thranduil and how, when he implied that Legolas had a thing for her, she was both disconcerted and quick to deny any reciprocation XD I liked how she was just as awesome a fighter as any other elf (except Legolas, of course e_e).

And that was the only thing that really bothered me about her in the last movie. Her badassery and strength, which she showed through both films she was in, was sacrificed in the end in favor of Legolas’s CGI ninja antics. I really think that the defeat of Azog’s son (Bolg?) should have been given to Tauriel. Why have Legolas do it (Legolas who was really only in the movies as a tie-in to LotR and to make the fans happy, not for any significant plot reasons) when it would have been Tauriel’s right to avenge Kili?

I also feel like the filmmakers have this weird concept of elf-emotions. In one of the cast commentaries of FotR, Orlando Bloom says that he thought of Legolas as completely blindsided by Gandalf’s death because elves don’t die and therefore he’d have no experience with that loss. Similarly, in BotFA, when Kili dies, Tauriel asks why it hurts so much, and says that if this is love, she doesn’t want it. Legolas is by no means young (although I guess he is compared to someone like Galadriel, but she’s certainly not average) and I dunno how old Tauriel is supposed to be [research check: 600 years old], but it seems very silly to me to assume that elves have no conception of loss or love. They may be alien weirdoes who feel things differently than mortals do, but if anything, I’ve gleaned from the books that their emotions are deeper and stronger, and certainly that they understand them better. The whole “What is this feeling?” thing throws me for a loop.

I don’t have a lot to say about Legolas :\ I’d kind of like to forget he’s in these movies. He has long been a favorite in the books, and I adored him in the LotR film trilogy. Here, he just seemed gratuitous. I mean, come on, they get Legolas and the best they could come up with for him is a lackluster unrequited love for Tauriel? It would’ve been better if they’d just been buds. They could’ve done some really cute stuff with their friendship, teasing each other and things (and we know Legolas loves to tease), but if they did, I don’t remember it. Seems like a wasted opportunity.

Other Stuff
This is REALLY getting long, so I’ll give you the other stuff in bullet form XD

- Bard was cool. Using your kid as an aiming device/steadier while shooting a very large arrow = creative but desperate. Rachel’s comment: “That kid is going to have some wicked cuts on his face from the fletching.”
- More Smaug pls XD I would’ve liked a slightly longer death scene, but I suppose nothing can compare to the TIME THERE WAS A GILDED DRAGON in the last movie :3
- I was disappointed that there was no thrush to tell Bard about the hole in Smaug’s scales! Although that would have meant explaining how Bard can speak bird, so I guess I can see why they skipped it.
- I LOVED the ladies of Laketown taking up weapons and fighting alongside their men. YES.
- Alfrid the You’re-No-Grima-Wormtongue was pointless and not funny and a waste of time :\ I really didn’t like the “ha ha he’s evil and cowardly and crossdressing for laughs” thing.
- DAIN IRONFOOT FOR THE WIN. Watching him chatting with Thorin while casually hammering orcs in the face was delightful. And Billy Connolly’s voice never fails to make me happy. I did notice that he was CGI pretty quickly, but from what I’ve read, it allowed them to do more with what they wanted for the character than they could do with the bulky, heavy costuming. Rachel reminded me that the best part was when Dain called Thranduil a "woodland sprite" XD
- WTH sandworms?! Is this Dune all of a sudden?
- Legolas’s unnecessary battle tricks were unnecessary. Okay, you won us over with the shield-surfing in Two Towers – let it go. When he was climbing those falling pieces of masonry, Rachel commented “This is like the scariest video game level ever.”
- The last scene was decent. I was VERY happy to see Lobelia Sackville-Baggins XD Although I’m not sure where Bilbo got all that stuff he was carrying, and the cloak with the big dwarfy brooch, since he didn’t seem to have it when he left the mountain? Oh well! Maybe it was part of the troll-horde they left in the Trollshaws in the first movie.

I am seriously looking forward to the release of the extended editions, as we’ve held off on buying any until we can get all three. I want all of the deleted scenes! And hopefully that means cast commentaries! Needless to say, I’ve been clutching my ragged 1971 paperback of The Hobbit and comforting myself with reading it. I turned to the internet the day we saw it and it was a bad move – the BotFA tumblr tag is full of little else but floods of tears and endless Bagginshield. I remember spending weeks perusing the most exquisite fanart of the first trilogy, and I wish I knew where to find that sort of thing now. I’m sure people are making it; I guess I’m just behind the times in figuring out where they post it. Tumblr is a minefield that I’m growing less and less willing to brave.

When we get the DVDs, I want to have a FULL MARATHON of all six extended movies :3 It’ll take all day, but who cares? XD I’m jonesing to watch FotR anyway – it’s my favorite of the three.
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March 2016

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