The Problematic Climax of         ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’

Bilbo (confused)

How Peter Jackson went places he proved he would never go

I have been a Peter Jackson apologist for a number of years: attempting to understand and explain to others certain decisions done by the filmmaker when adapting the Middle-earth stories tothe silver screen.Peter Jackson

Never being a narrow-minded “Jacksonphile”, I tried – as much as possible – to understand his reasonings; but not always found myself in full agreement with the outcome of specific choices. However, I always accepted Jackson’s own thoughts behind the alterations he employed.

However, after viewing The Battle of the Five Armies, I have come to the conclusion that Peter Jackson has probably done some shocking errors of judgement in its third act; something I will undoubtedly find extremely difficult to accept why he made the choices that eventually ended up on the screen.

I can most certainly understand why, but I don’t think I’ll be able to agree or sympathise with those decisions.

The opening is astonishing, and the lead up to – and development of – the Battle are compelling; and while I may have my reservations on certain scenes, directorial choices and narrative decisions, the first and second act of the film are compelling and a worthy piece of storytelling.

In addition, Bilbo’s farewell sequence is also wonderfully done: a testament to Jackson’s capabilities (which ironically are in serious disharmony with his other, less wise, judgments).

The Issue

The problem lies with the beginning of the third act, when Thorin, Dwalin, Fili and Kili make their way to “cut off the snake’s head” and dispatch of Azog. By removing four main characters from the primary conflict was, in my personal opinion, a serious mistake from Jackson’s part.

This specific sequence in the film raises a number of questions which are mostly concerned with the decisions undertaken by the filmmakers.

I’m sure many can be answered with a reasonable explanation as to why they ended up being so.

Thorin on Ravenhill

Other issues seem to go far beyond what Jackson and his team had given us in The Lord of the Rings; decisions that seem to go against everything that was established 13 years prior, in relation to the director’s method of tackling the Middle-earth stories.

Sure, people’s tastes and sense of style change over time; they are refined and they evolve. But in this instance, it would seem they have gone the other way.

Instead of improving on the filmmaking skills developed, it appears they’ve gone to the other end of the spectrum.

In the Helm’s Deep and Pelennor Fields sequences, Jackson brilliantly managed to balance the focus between the individual characters’ stories and the wider view of the unfolding events.

As an audience, we are presented with the lead up towards the battle, its development and resolution, all the while keeping us informed what each character is going through and how his or her actions are affecting those particular events they are in.

Such sequences were presented as a seamless tapestry of impressive visuals, emotional resonance and rhythm.

Aragorn vs Troll

I’d like to structure this post in a series of questions: questions that are raised during this final showdown in The Battle of the Five Armies; questions that certainly need answering.

Why transfer Thorin, Kili and Fili’s death to Ravenhill?

Personally, this was Peter Jackson’s grave mistake. It’s not a question of remaining faithful to the book, but placing some of your characters within a different place (and hence a different context) to where the main story is unfolding, simply creates an unbalanced third act.

I can probably understand the decision to move Thorin, Kili and Fili to Ravenhill and allow the audience to focus on their character’s concluding journeys – in isolation from the chaotic moments of the main battle.

Dwalin, Thorin, Fili, Kili on Ravenhill

Strictly speaking it’s not an error of judgement. Scenes like this do work: especially since our primary focus is on Thorin and Bilbo.

However, you cannot alienate the other characters and your major event; elements you have been building up to over the span of 3 films.

If we were to look at examples from The Lord of the Rings, the confrontation between Éowyn and the Witch-king takes place in the thick of battle. Think of Aragorn fending off the Troll during the Battle of the Morannon.

You get that sense of imminent danger. Your characters are facing a worthy foe amid the chaos around them.

In these two instances, despite the grand scale of the conflicts, our attention is solely on the duel; but by integrating this set-piece with the rest of the action, creates a sense of cohesion and a balance to the sub-narrative of the battle.

Why would Thorin send his nephews to scout the area while he remained behind?

By shifting this scene to the barren slopes of Ravenhill, Jackson may have wanted to experiment with the thriller aspects of the story: namely, Azog’s apparent disappearance: thereby introducing a further layer of suspense to the story by questioning the whereabouts of the current antagonist.

However, the more changes Peter Jackson brings to this sequence, the more he seems to have been prone to creating further mistakes.

Those aware of the book would have realised the decision to send the 2 nephews to scout the area would eventually lead to their deaths.

Fili and Kili scout Ravenhill

In the book, Thorin is mortally wounded by Bolg. As a result, Fili and Kili rush to his aid which is ultimately the cause of their deaths. The crux of that uncle-nephew relationship lies within this moment. The young dwarves sacrificing themselves for their father figure.

In the film version, introducing the love interest between Fili and Tauriel, completely ignoring any character development on Fili’s part, and separating the three characters from each other and the main event, resulted in something of a fiasco.

Peter Jackson was certainly on the right track when he established and worked on the relationship between Thorin and Kili – right up to the touching moment between the two before they charge out of the gate of Erebor.

Yet, in having gotten rid of the atmosphere and environment of the main battle, and disposed of the two nephews in a careless manner, the fragmentary elements of the relationship established up to that point were completely lost.

This compels me to ask the next question …

Why the lack of substantial violence?

I know this was aimed at a PG-13 audience, but intense situations need to be dealt with the right amount of gravitas.

Disposing of your characters by failing to do so in a believable manner, takes away all the suspense and emotional connection of that moment.

It’s not about glorifying violence. It’s about recognising the severity of the situation, the stakes for your characters and, in this case, the power of evil.

Azog (clean sword)

Do we know what happens to Fili when he’s invisibly stabbed by Azog in the back? He simply reacts and jolts. No trace of blood, nothing. Unfortunately, this makes things superficial.

Kili and Thorin’s final moments suffer from a similar fate but were better represented visually – and not as subtle as Fili’s.

This also reminds me of the squeaky clean swords that emerge out creature’s chests and necks that have just been stabbed – a common occurence throughout  the trilogy.

But onto the next question …

Why introduce the concept of Gundabad when that storyline does not progress forward?

Including Gundabad as another fortress from which the two orc hosts issue forth, was a nice idea. After all, in the book it is the main location from which the orcs muster and begin their march towards Erebor – led by their leader, Bolg.

We are also introduced to new creatures in Middle-earth – giant bats (more on these below).

Mount Gundabad

The threat posed to the Elves, Dwarves and Men by another looming army is a fantastic way in raising the stakes for our characters even higher.

Yet, no sooner has the Gundabad army arrived on the field of battle than it is instantly overcome. What would have been the point of showing us the march of this army, its constant threat, and then take all that away in the blink of an eye?

Perhaps Jackson wanted to avoid a second, renewed attack by another army – thereby reducing the length of the battle; but this has resulted in an abrupt and unbalanced conclusion to the conflict.  Bringing the two orc contingents together and attacking at once would have avoided such a jarring narrative resolution.

Not to mention the confusion that has been created as to which are the “5 armies”.

With all the buzz surrounding the Eagles as “problem-solving” and “near-invincible”, why reinforce that same idea in this film?

Admittedly, in The Return of the King and two instances in The Hobbit (book versions), the Eagles play an important part.

However, Peter Jackson never provided a reason to the Eagles rescuing the stranded Dwarves from the fire in An Unexpected Journey (something for which the book provides a simple but sufficient explanation).

This omission from the director’s part further reinforced the Eagles’ already invincible reputation for saving the day.

Eagles' Rescue

In my opinion, the worst aspect of this moment was in not giving the Eagles any sort of challenge as they swoop over the orcs; which raises a further question: why introduce the giant bats if they are not going to pose a serious threat to these majestic birds?

Tolkien may not have delved enough into characters or events, but he thought things through as to causes and effects. In the book, the reason for including bats is two-fold: 1) to provide cover to the sun-shy orcs 2) as a worthy opponent to the Eagles’ eventual appearance upon the battlefield.

Why Peter Jackson seems to have missed this point is beyond me.

Aerial combat sequences were discussed many times during interviews in the last year or so before the final film’s release. Perhaps the Extended Edition will give us our first glimpse to the Eagles finding themselves hard pressed by equally formidable flying creatures – rather than doing what they do best and just trample all over the bad guys.

Giant Bats (BotFA)

Again, it’s not about the gorgeous action sequences and entertaining shots; it’s about a believable piece of narrative.

This issue is tied with the previous one, in that the Gundabad army was disposed of in a matter of seconds due to the “interference” of the Eagles’ arrival.

Storytelling is all about obstacles and challenges; raising the stakes and creating tension throughout. Resolution ultimately arrives, but is often delayed at first. There is a fine balance to the story arc that needs to be respected in order to sustain a film.

Arrival of the Eagles (BotFA)

An audience needs to sympathise with the characters on screen; and whilst Eagles are not strictly speaking characters, the sight of one of these majestic birds falling to the ground would be a heart-wrenching moment for many – something we never see occurring during the Battle.

This almost deus ex machina moment feels overused and, in this case, unnecessary.

Just a few more minutes of screen time dedicated to ironing out this resolution would have positively impacted the overall conclusion of this Battle sequence.

Why would Azog opt for a cumbersome stone at the end of a chain rather than his trusted mace?

He’s been wielding it for three whole movies, right up to the Ravenhill sequence.

We’ve witnessed Azog’s acute sense of military strategy; he’s more than your average orc. He dispenses of his enemies with ruthless efficiency – preferring to go instantly for the kill rather than gloat over his helpless prey.

What we’ve been told about this character finally makes no sense when he chooses such a useless weapon.

Azog chained stone weapon

It is made obvious that Jackson is leading up to a death-defying combat that will result in ice breaking and a potential fall into the freezing waters.

Again, the visual effects and choreography are excellent; but it seems that too much time is spent on Azog trying to pin-down (pun intended) his dwarven opponent.

That extra minute or two could easily have shifted back to showing us the development of the main battle.

Why so little screen time for Beorn?

I am certainly not the only one who expected to see more of Beorn’s involvement in the film.

Again, it’s not just about the sensational action shots, but the story.

The lack of Beorn meant more focus on the Eagles’ arrival, and made redundant his backstory of underlying conflict with the orcs in The Desolation of Smaug.

In the book, I’ve always seen the arrival of the Eagles as secondary to that of Beorn. The shapeshifter’s presence on the battlefield is what ultimately tips the balance of the battle in favour of the Free Peoples.

Beorn (BotFA)

The lack of Legolas would have allowed for Beorn’s “invented” torture story by the orcs to pave way for his final confrontation with Bolg – the orc who seems to wear bear claws as part of his armour (something which I think was in the original script but got completely lost – or removed – with the 3-film split).

Even the concept of a giant bear bursting through ranks of orcs, and disposing of a hateful character or two, seems something Jackson would pounce on at the opportunity of visualising it for the screen. Ultimately, he didn’t. Which is what is most frustrating and perplexing…

There was massive potential with Beorn’s storyline, but was unfortunately sidetracked for other superficial things.

What happens to the rest of the Company, Bard, Dáin and Thranduil during the Azog vs Thorin confrontation? How does the battle proceed?

There was a great build-up towards the escalation of the battle, but once the scene shifts to Ravenhill any events occurring on the main battlefield are forgotten – except for a shot or two during the arrival of the Eagles.

The impact and fate of the battle – which, until a few moments ago, hung in the balance – is disposed of.

Yes, our focus is on Thorin and his character’s story arc in getting rid of Azog; but ultimately, what would be the point of killing your antagonist if the battle is lost?

There was no actual resolution to the battle itself, except that we are meant to come to the conclusion that the Eagles (not even Beorn) have saved the day.

BotFA (Battle ends)

With this final film being aptly name The Battle of the Five Armies it seems only natural to present audiences with the proper conclusion to our characters’ stories using the Battle itself as a narrative tool.

This, unfortunately, has not been the case.

Why introduce the Legolas vs Bolg feud, which distracted so much from the rest of the battle?

I’ve said this numerous times: I have nothing against the inclusion of Legolas in The Hobbit.

My ideal preference would have been to see him as a background character in the form of a brief cameo in The Desolation of Smaug; and perhaps some quick shots of him in this final film. I believe that the less screen time he would have had, his presence in this trilogy would have been much more significant.

Instead, except for introducing the Gundabad story thread, Legolas serves primarily as the driving force of entertainment – a tool used for action sequences. Admittedly, some of these moments are superb and exciting; others are distracting and jarring.

Bolg vs Legolas

In the case of The Battle of the Five Armies his showdown with Bolg diminished the impact of Thorin’s concluding story arc, by constantly intercutting between the two characters’ separate confrontations.

Precious minutes showing a lithe elf clinging to a giant bat, springing up collapsing rocks and jumping on blind trolls’ heads, could have been dedicated to the necessary “battle moments” to keep us informed on the situation of the other characters.

At the same time, the introduction of Legolas could have added so much more to the character of Thranduil and his odd desire to reclaim the white gems; but again, this falls short of its mark.  Elements of their relationship and Legolas’ mother were introduced but then abandoned; only to remerge as resolved in a post-battle scene.

There was intriguing potential here but this was again sidetracked by the bombastic and the unnecessary inclusion of other elements.

Why was no attention given to Fili after the battle?

Since An Unexpected Journey I always complained at the lack of dwarf characterisation – most of all that of Fili. I knew from the book where the story would lead him, and it was imperative for audiences to sympathise and understand his character’s motivations and personality; so that when he meets his untimely death, the emotional impact is powerful.

After viewing the first two films and discovering that Fili had remained largerly in the background, together with the other eight undeveloped Dwarves, I was convinced Peter Jackson would remedy this situation by spending some essential screen time at the start of The Battle of the Five Armies to his character.

Fili (death)

Suffice to say, this didn’t happen; and to add further insult to injury, after the battle concludes, he remains completely in the dark. Thorin’s emotional farewell to Bilbo is the highlight; Kili is mourned by a grief-stricken Tauriel; and Fili has been left slumped on the cold ground unnoticed.

What happened to the other plot elements: the Arkenstone, Thranduil’s white gems and the distribution of gold to the people of Lake-town?

Audiences aware of the book’s outcome will surely get their answers; but others who have been following the story mainly from the films still require a certain amount of closure.

For the film itself to work, it was necessary to provide a resolution to these issues, since they have been the primary motivations of our characters and the drive of the story.

Thorin's farewell

Failing to do so, the film leaves one big question mark.

And if scenes like these have been left for the Extended cut, then Peter Jackson should simply stick to making longer films as the editing of this trilogy has been a major flaw.

In Summary …

In practice, no film manages to answer (or conclude) every single story thread introduced in the narrative. It’s rare finding a film in which all loose ends have been successfully tied.

However, much of what is presented to the audience usually remains consistent and the climax is sustained, rather than collapsing on itself.

With The Hobbit trilogy, whether it was a case of having filmed most of the battle scenes during pick-ups in 2013, the rush to deliver 3 movies instead of 2, or any other reason, I still believe none of these are actual excuses for the final work produced.

The Hobbit pickups (Bilbo)

The idea of splitting up the (back then) 2-film adaptation into 3 shooting blocks was to give enough time to revise scripts, refine the editing, and allow enough time for the VFX and SFX teams to complete the work.

The Battle of the Five Armies had almost an entire year’s work of post-production, and undoubtedly more filming took place in 2014.

If Time was an issue with this final film, forcing certain “shortcuts” to the overall story, I’m almost certain it was brought about by the filmmakers themselves: perhaps, opting for other narrative options which further complicated and restricted their time schedules.

My perception towards the climax to The Battle of the Five Armies may completely change for the better once we get to see the Extended Edition. Things can only improve – unless we get more Legolas action sequences or unnecessary interruptions to the central storyline.

It is almost impossible we’ll get a revised version of the Thorin/Fili/Kili last stand onto the main battlefield; but it will be interesting to see what the behind the scenes can uncover, and why such monumental decisions were taken.

If, after each film, fans are left wondering “oh maybe we’ll see more in the extended cut” or “I’m sure it’ll improve in the extended edition”, then this is obviously not the right way to make things.

Using the Extended Edition card is no excuse. Theatrical cuts are meant to be the primary viewing experiences of a film, not experiments for a fallback plan.

***

Thoughts. Comments. Suggestions. Fire away! Do you agree with some of the above? Infuriated by this blasphemous post? Let us know below!

Copyright of images used belongs to Warner Bros., MGM Studios and New Line Cinema

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68 thoughts on “The Problematic Climax of         ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’

  1. I very much respect your opinion, but , but here I some things I think you should consider:

    To start with, I think I know why they took the main characters to Ravenhill. First I think they did it so they could focus on the characters deaths without having thousands of people around distracting from them. Now I know, they did it in ROTK, but that leads to a problem: why, in death scenes in the middle of a battle, does no one try to save their leaders? For Example, when Aragorn fights the troll, they are surrounded by soldiers looking at the troll. Why don´t they try to save Aragorn? In that case it doesn’t really matter, as Aragorn survives, but when the characters die it could be a problem.

    And I thought Fili’s death was very well done. It hit a very important point home to me: Not everyone in war gets a glamorous last stand and last words. Some people are killed cruelly, unessacarily, without being able to speak to their loved ones. I thought it was very emotional.

    We know they were forced by the MPAA to tone down the violence, which may account for the lack of as much blood and gore. Of course, sometimes there is blood and gore, its just hard to see as orc blood is black, which tends to blend in with the surroundings. Like when Kili beheads the Orc near the beginning of the fight: Black blood goes everywhere, but it is hard to see unless you look for it.

    The Problem movie needs a lot more material, mostly more of the Dwarves inside the Mountain, more Beorn, and more at the ending. I agree with you wholeheartedly about that. Fortunately, their are references to all such scenes being filmed.

    But here is where I don’t agree with you: I don’t think it was PJs idea to cut out all those scenes. I mean, there are all those clips in the final trailer that aren’t in the movie! I suspect that it was some studio hotshots idea to make a shorter, more exciting film. And even if it was PJs idea, can you blame him? after about 2 and a half yeas of hearing how “Slow” “Boring” and “Bloated(Whatever that means)” The first two were, it would be understandable if he said: “lets just make this one short and fast to appease the critics, since all the real fans will buy the Extended Version anyway.”

    Of course, that din’t really work, as the critics either still called this one slow etc, or switched to complaining about BOFA wasn’t resolved enough.(Which is probably true, but thats what they had seemed to be asking for with their reviews of the first two.) On a more positive note, at least this finally proves that lots of the critics were just biased against the Hobbit trilogy from the start and decided to try to make it fail no matter what. Bunch of Hypocrites.

    So while I do share some of your concerns, I still think the Ravenhill sequence was very well done and emotional(With the Exception of Legolas vs. Bolg. I agree with you on that.) , and I enjoyed it a lot.

    • I agree that splitting the main characters from the main part of the battle wasn’t too much of a problem in itself. The problem is that while we were focusing on them, the current state of the battle was no longer being kept track of. It got to a point where I had no idea if the Orcs were winning or losing. What the film needed was more cutting back to Thranduil, Dain, Beorn etc. to get a better feel for that. Let’s hope the Extended Edition does provide us. I want to see the women of Lake-Town taking some names!

      On another note, call me weird, but I actually liked Legolas vs. Bolg. It was an engaging set-piece for sure, and there was something very satisfying about Legolas taking down Bolg without arrows, in close quarters.

      • For some reason that didn’t bother me much, but I sure see why it would bother some people. I do hope we get to see more of the battle during Ravenhill, mostly just because It would be epic to see the Dwarves continuing the fight against the Orcs, the Lake-town women, and rest of the dwarves getting their hero moments, and of course a lot more Beorn!

        I’m not really sure yet about Legolas vs. Bolg. Half of me says “Its over the top” and the other half says “Its awesome, and 60 years later he takes down an Oliphaunt, so whats the problem?” I think I’ll need to watch it more before I decide. That reminds me, I need to start planning my Hobbit movie Marathon…

      • Ironfoot, I respect your opinions and thanks for sharing your comments with us.

        As Jack has rightly stated though, such a shift in location undermined the outcome of the battle itself.

        I can understand that isolating the characters will create more of an impact but as to “rushing forward to save them”, that was Fili and Kili’s original role in the book. Theoden himself was killed in the midst of battle and although he was surrounded by his men, only one came forth to defend him.

        I could easily see this moment in the Battle reflectiing the flashback of the Battle of Azanulbizar. The three royal Dwarves (Thror, Thrain and Thorin) were all fighting in the midst of the chaos. PJ went the extra mile and put them on a slightly raised bit of ground to add further emphasis – but they were still part of the battle. It would have provided a nice symmetry to it if the BoFA took place in the same way.

        Jack, the Legolas vs Bolg fight was engaging but it went on for too long in my opinion. Furthermore, several moments were definitely over-the-top, and once again it detracted from the main battle.

  2. I agree with most of your thoughts. Yes, I was very let down by the Thorin, Fili, Kili arc. This should have started in the first films. Fili and Kili were together all the time. Heck, most of Fili’s lines are shouting “Kili.” They should have shown their relationship with their uncle and each other earlier. I didn’t mind Legolas and Tauriel, but I would have liked Legolas’ arc to be with his father, with Tauriel, not as a romance for Kili, but as a hopeful friend who encourages Legolas to fight for a world that his father is hiding away from. She could have been a character to influence him to join the fellowship later. The theme of the movies should have been about home. The dying quote of Thorin reiterates this. Legolas’ people are losing their home to spiders. The mirkwood scenes could have reiterated the theme, since Thranduil wants to hide in the mountains to protect his people. Legolas could agree until encouraged by his friend that their home is worth fighting for and they are still “part of hte world.” I still enjoyed the films, but I love what they could have been.

  3. There’s a little phrase that often seems to trip off the tongues of directors in DVD commentaries to justify cutting or never filming material that would probably have made a movie more comprehensible and satisfying, and that is: “for pacing reasons”. It seems to be an end in itself. I would be astonished if we don’t hear about “pacing reasons” in the Extended Edition commentary for BotFA.

    I thought that the Battle felt in general rather unsatisfactory and the gladiatorial combats between hero-characters somewhat contrived, and, on further reflection, I think you have clearly articulated why, so I don’t really have much to add, except to agree.

    The Extended Editions are the only versions of any of the films that I have on disc or that I have watched subsequent to the theatrical releases, so in my little cinematic bubble of Middle-earth, the Extended Editions will always be the definitive versions. However, the only good “excuse” for a problematic theatrical release to be followed by a superior director’s cut is studio interference, which I think is highly unlikely to have happened here (after five previous films and several billion dollars of box office, would any studio executive really try to tell Peter Jackson how to make a Middle-earth movie?), and in any case, some of the issues that you have highlighted in BotFA are unlikely to be repaired simply by adding a few scenes. We shall see, though.

    One small point: isn’t it fairly clear in An Unexpected Journey that the Eagles intervene because Gandalf calls for their assistance (via the moth)?

    • “Eagles intervene because Gandalf calls for their assistance (via the moth)”
      Correcto. I personally found this intervention far more dramatic than in “Five Armies.”

      I like the idea — as stated in the article — that Beorn owning orcs could have served nicely as a momentum shifter instead of focusing on the eagles.

    • Cheers Graham! “pacing reasons” is truly an overused word.

      With regards to the Eagles, that’s precisely the issue. Gandalf calls for their assistance, but why would they duly oblige? In the book we’re told the wizard had healed their leader – which is quite a satisfying excuse.

      In the movies, LoTR had already established the idea that Gandalf could call for their aid in two instances, but in The Hobbit it was the moment when the filmmakers could explain as to why the Eagles are willing to help others – and thereby also explain their motivations in the Rings trilogy.

      • This is true… with no background at all provided for the Eagles in the movies, much is left to the viewer’s imagination, which is not necessarily a bad thing but does invite the “taxi service” question.

  4. How dare you, sir! The impudence, sir! Kidding.

    “What happened to the other plot elements: the Arkenstone, Thranduil’s white gems and the distribution of gold to the people of Lake-town?”

    Though I thoroughly enjoyed this film and accepted many liberties taken by Jackson’s portrayal of elves as the invincibly-pimpish jocks of Middle Earth (aside from the barrel extravaganza), the aforementioned elements’ absence (in quotations) from the ending left me wondering “why the rush?” We know there was a memorial of sorts for Thorin. However, even in a theatrical cut, leaving out two coveted gem prizes (Arkenstone and the elvish gems) that a war was going to be fought over was a mistake, IMO.

    I hate to hearken back to a previous installment, but he shortest theatrical release of the 3 should have been “Desolation” by a country mile. I have watched this film at least 20 times and I still can’t figure Jackson’s thinking on the Lake Town filler. Was he that desperate to feature Stephen Fry?

    The orc fight in the town? — not a problem but needed some trimming, great action and highlighted by Tauriel healing Kili in a plot twist that I never fathomed AND found to be a terrific addition.

    Smaug chasing the dwarves through Erebor? — again, not a problem because it was not only highlighted by important dialogue, but showed how important that gold was to the dragon as well as Thorin.

    But, political intrigue in Fish Town? — WHO CARES? And to top it off, even more of that crap was added in the extended cut.

    IMHO, they missed a HUGE opportunity to cut the dip**** barrel scene, end “Desolation” with the heroism of Bard acing Smaug and yet ending the film on a “oh sh**” note with some form of message or intel that an orc army approaches. I liked that a bird was used as a messenger in “Five Armies,” so this could have been used here. Just one idea of many, but “Five Armies” felt a tad rushed and there are lots of ways this could have been alleviated.

    • Robert, will I find The Desolation of Smaug to be the best of the 3, I also agree with you about trimming down the orc attack on Lake-town.

      In this third film, Alfrid seems to be the scape goat and his scenes – whilst good to relieve some of the tension – become interfering before the Battle has even started. Which is another frustrating issue: why would PJ dedicate so much screentime to him but then forsake Bilbo and the rest?

      And yes, although a trilogy, BotFA still felt rushed. Incredible!

  5. Solid, thorough analysis of some of the big problems in BOTFA; I agree 100% that inclusion of Legolas ate up valuable screen time in the Hobbit trilogy, time that could and should have been spent on Bilbo and more characterization for the dwarves; BTW, why was it Dwalin who gets in the emotional confrontation with Thorin? In the first two films Balin was the character used as the counterpoint to the character of Thorin; suddenly Balin falls by the wayside, along with Bofur who provided comic moments that were glaringly missing from BOTFA. It’s depressing to watch so much time spent on the fake-looking acrobatics of Legolas.

    • I quite liked that Dwalin was the one to speak up. The fact that it was him – who had kept quiet and not questioned Thorin until then – highlighted how far gone Thorin was; even his most loyal followers were protesting his actions. Plus, Dwalin is Balin’s brother, so he might have noticed that Balin was at the end of his tether in trying to talk sense into Thorin, so became motivated to step in.

      • Fantastic essay, thanks Annabel! Though I still feel it was a big mistake (in the films) to have Thorin send Fili and Kili to scout Ravenhill, instead of going himself. Especially since Azog was in the vicinity. A strategic error and one that slightly dampens the otherwise great characterisation of Thorin in the films …

    • Thanks mallorb for your comments. As Jack has remarked, it was good to see Dwalin confront Thorin. Through AUJ and DOS we’ve seen how Dwalin is a fierce warrior who’s utmost loyalty resides in his future-king companion. To see him challenge Thorin’s actions was perfect to capture the severity of the Dwarf King’s affliction.

      But yet, I completely agree that Balin, having served as the link between the audience, Bilbo and Thorin, is suddenly left in the shadows with the rest of the Company.

  6. Great thoughts! I keep hitting my against the wall that Boromir had a more heroic death than any of the three dwarves and he was only in one movie. Missed opportunity and we can only hope we find a little more closure in the EE

    • Oh, I don’t know about that. I thought Thorin’s death was pretty heroic. He died killing Azog and managed to speak some inspirational last words to Bilbo. Not so much for Fili and Kili, but in the book their deaths weren’t even shown, so I’ll cut the movie a little slack.

    • Thanks Marc! I agree, Boromir’s death remains the best and most perfect last stand scene. Thorin’s was well-executed but for a main character who’s journey has spanned 3 films, I would have expected more of an emotional impact. That said, his farewell scene with Bilbo was superb.

  7. I too am a bit puzzled by the somewhat jarring ending to this film. It’s almost as if Peter Jackson was so concerned about a possible “multiple endings” debacle like after RotK that he did the complete opposite here. Hopefully we will get to see Thorin’s funeral and resolution to the political situation in Wilderland in the EE.

    As to the development of the dwarves as characters, I’m thankful (and a little surprised) by how much effort they put into many of them. Do you remember how much info Tolkien gives us about the dwarves (Excluding Thorin)? Very little. Balin (the old look-out) befriends Bilbo, Fili and Kili are identified as Thorin’s nephews and the youngest of the group, Oin and Gloin are good at starting fires, Dori is the strongest of the group, etc. While the nearly identical band of dwarves with different colored hoods works marvelously in the book that would have been way too monotonous and tiring for a three part, feature-length series. Could they have given some of them more lines and/or screentime? Of course. But their execution was, for the most part, expertly handled, especially from a design standpoint. I’m also glad they didn’t try to over-emphasize Bombur’s weight. There were so many opportunities for Jackson & Co. to use him simply as a poor comedic joke, but they only resorted to that level in a few instances throughout the trilogy.

    • Hi Andrew, great comments there. It’s true, Tolkien seemed to go no further than characterising 2 or 3 dwarves at most. Even Bard was left without anything to go on. The filmmakers certainly did a great job in that respect.

      I just felt that, after three films, we would have be a bit more acquainted with the rest of the Company, so that when the Battle commences, the stakes are even higher. But that would only have worked if we actually saw how the rest of the Dwarves fared during the Battle – which unfortunately, we didn’t.

  8. Completely agree. I dont mind departure from the books as long as that departure remains a good storytelling piece in its own right. However, Peter Jackson didn’t pay enough attention to his own story.

    One thing I disagree with you on…it’s not deus ex machina….it’s eucatastrophe!!!!! The eagle scenes work!

    • Hey bdsprinkle! Eucatastrophe? Hmmm, I’m not so sure.

      It wasn’t exactly the darkest moment for the Free Peoples, at that point. There was still hope of winning the battle even though the Gundabad army had arrived. No wait, how could we have known there was still hope? We weren’t even shown how the Battle was going! 😀

      It may have been eucatastrophe, but motivations could have been better explained to ease the Eagles “problem-solving” reputation … 🙂

      • Hi James, ok I had to look up the terms deus ex machina and eucatastrophe (after hearing them a lot lately), and I think bdsprinkle is right. According to Wikipedia (sorry to use that as a reference), Tolkien coined the term eucatastrophe and has described Bilbo’s emotions that way when he sees the Eagles arrive. I re-read the passage in the book, and from Bilbo’s perspective it does seem he believes the orcs are about to win the battle. Very interesting to read this all again 🙂
        As a side note, it’s also interesting to read that even with the eagles, it sounds like the battle wasn’t truly won until Beorn arrived and really messed up the orcs. I certainly hope to see more of that in the extended edition. Anyway, another great blog post James!

      • Hey Mark, I guess you and bdsprinkle are right – it IS eucatastrophe after all. I still think PJ should have explained their arrival better and leaft the spoils for Beorn 😉

      • James and Mark, I totally agree with you about Beorn. He was a major force to reckon with in the book and seemed to turn the tide of the battle. The movie didn’t do him justice. Hope to see more of him in the EE, but even so, it should have been in the theatrical version.

  9. I completely agree with all your questions… ‘bofta’ is not a bad movie… but a movie with great disappointments…..I sighed when I saw legolas killing bolg, instead of beorn… it gives lesser importance to the charcter… many people claim that the flaws shown in the film will be fixed in “EE” (and I hope it happens)…. but I think ‘theatrical’ must be much superior to ‘EE.’

    • Thanks shree! Agreed, the theatrical should be the primary viewing experience to anyone. Extended editions should be there to add and enhance aspects of the story, not improve/alter the original.

  10. I agree that Fili and Kili were shortchanged – deprived of the honour of fighting and dying by their uncle’s side. There was a simple poignancy in the book, that was not nearly matched in the sequences of the film. If Tauriel hadn’t showed up, Kili might have been able to lend Thorin a hand against Azog. And Fili being chucked off a precipice, was sort of a metaphor for how his character was sidelined in the movie.

    • “And Fili being chucked off a precipice, was sort of a metaphor for how his character was sidelined in the movie.”

      Hah! I like that analogy earthoak 🙂

      Glad I’m not the only one who thought Fili was too sidetracked …

  11. One of the biggest problems with the trilogy overall was focus. They picked the strangest things to focus on sometimes, especially in BotFA. One thing that really frustrated me was how the other dwarves were sidelined to a ridiculous degree by the end of the trilogy. Their charming moments and bits of dialogue were completely gone, and not even Bofur had a role to play. I know this will probably be fixed a bit in the extended cut, but it’s still baffling how they handled stuff like this.

    Even though most of them were barely developed as characters, the dwarvish company was still a lovable group that should have been at the heart of the final conflict. But they literally don’t do anything once the initial charge is over. During the battle I kept thinking “I don’t CARE this much about what Legolas is doing. Where’s Bofur? How’s Bombur handling the battle? Is Ori holding his own? Is Balin taking charge while Thorin is absent?” I just wanted SOMETHING with them.

    • You hit the nail on it’s head Mooseboy018: focus.

      It amazed me (in not such a good way) how, through the trilogy, important events seemed to form part of the background story and little details were brought to the front.

      • Hi James. Perhaps the problem with the Hobbit unlike LOTR films was that they took more of a big picture focus rather than the personal focus of Bilbo in the Hobbit, like Frodo’s journey with the ring in LOTR. I think Bilbo’s view, even though he was unconscious during the battle, might have focused on his friends (e.g. the dwarfs) rather than the big picture. I am really glad the films have been made, but it would be interesting to know what Peter Jackson’s focus was for the Hobbit films, especially as he made clear what it was for LOTR (Frodo and his journey with the ring). He probably has said somewhere but I would not know where.

      • Hi Bob, I too am glad the films have been made, but as you rightly point out, much of the focus was constantly on supporting or even minor characters …

  12. James, you so perfectly and eloquently described most of the problems I had with this movie. Thank you!

    I’m hoping Legolas’ “air stairs” get cut out from the EE, along with a formal apology from Peter Jackson for that (not holding my breath on that one). In this one single movie, he turned the entire franchise into a laughing stock. It became a video game of who can get the most kills with special shots and attacks. The entire Azog-Thorin and Legolas-Bolg scenes are completely unnecessary! Having Thorin die unexpectedly in battle would have been much more heart-wrenching, like Gandalf falling at Khazad-Dum, or Boromir dying at Parth Galen. Jackson completely disregarded what made LOR such fantastic films. It was like he was appealing to tweens and beliebers. Maybe he should have remembered who his actual audience is.

    • Cheers Bryan!

      Peter Jackson may have had some shortcomings throughout this trilogy, but he was somewhat on the right track. He was so close to finishing off The Hobbit in style, but eventually seemed to succumb to studio pressures, time and CGI dazzle…

  13. I reckon that this post maked a lot of valid points. I especially agree with the Legolas part and “…it’s not about the gorgeous action sequences and entertaining shots; it’s about a believable piece of narrative”.

    To this I would also point out the issue of quality over quantity. While there is a quite a lot of material, storylines (not as many as in LOTR though) and characters – there is less quality focused on this. Lack of intimate Fili-time is a good example of this.

    If I look aside from what I think should have been included/not included in the film, in this last one, whatever is in it have been treated “sloppy”. It is dissapointing, because I know how good a director PJ is and screenwriters Fran and Phiilippa are. I’ve seen all his films and though a lot of them are silly and gore-y, they are “believable pieces of narrative”.

  14. I think this is exactly right – the reason that LoTR worked so well was because Jackson et al focused so much on creating a cohesive narrative, drawing disparate elements together. The changes they made from the book were always intended to increase cohesion, line up narratives, and in general facilitate the clearer flow required by films. Books can get away with a bit more fracturing and a lot more detail. With the Hobbit, it seems like he did the exact opposite – he took a coherent narrative and fractured it again and again, destroying the narrative flow that already existed.

    • Hear hear! I’m afraid you are only too right, Michelle! I’d love to have a sit down with Jackson and, with tears in my eyes, simply ask him “But why?” 😀

  15. I personally believe that the whole climax problem boils down to Azog still being alive and/or the character of Dain not having been cast for the Battle of Azanulbizar. Albeit, Azog being alive leads Gandalf to suspect of Sauron amassing power in Dol Guldur and the inevitable battle there, but instead we could’ve just had Gandalf leave them at the Elvengate because of the Galadriel telepathic message and the hasty scrawl of the Red Eye on the statue. I also heartily agree with the whole “bloodless-blades-and-bodies” thing; THE DWARVES AREN’T VAMPIRES. And (just a theory here) perhaps Thranduil’s obsession with the White Gems of Lasgalen (let’s just call them that) were commissioned by Thranduil’s for-now nameless wife FOR Thranduil, and he wants them back so he can have the closest thing to a connection to her. That’s just about all, I guess.

    • Hey Harrison, initially I had reservations to keeping Azog alive and not introduce Dain. I couldn’t understand why the filmmakers didn’t allow Bolg to do the same thing Azog has done in the trilogy. But somehow I accept that eventually – still the problems in BOFA persist.

      With regards to Thranduil’s want of gems, yes apparently that was the intention: something involving his deceased wife (apparently, it’s mentioned in one of the Chronicles books – but I do not have a copy currently). Yet another subplot which could have further explained his motivations, but was never fully realised. :/

  16. I’m sorry if I seemed rude above. I have read your blog for a long time to remind myself, that, no, I’m not the only person who loves the Hobbit movies, so I was surprised when you were so negative about the end of BOTFA.

    But I can’t understand something. You have made many positive posts supporting the movies, and you said that you still like BOTFA, but a few posts above in your reply to M. Joelle, you agreed that Jackson “Fractured” and “destroyed” the entire narrative flow of The Hobbit “Again and again”.

    Is your view of the Hobbit movies still generally positive, or do you think that the third act of BOTFA is bad enough to ruin them all?

    • Hi Ironfoot! Rude? Of course not! All are welcome to express their opinions here, no matter how different; so long as it’s done in a civilised and respectful manner – as you have done. 🙂

      With regards to your question, I’m glad someone asked me that!

      When I agreed to M.Joelle’s comment I was primarily referring to this third act of BOtFA.

      I love the whole Hobbit trilogy – even though it does not reach the same emotional level of LoTR (though there are certainly many moments that are even more engaging than the Rings trilogy); and the whole 6-film saga is an impressive collection, and one I’ll cherish forever.

      However, I can’t help but feel disappointed at the final Hobbit film for not delivering the right amount of weight and impact as it should have. Even if this were not an adaptation of a book, and merely an original fantasy film, there are some things that do not entirely make sense. And I would have expected Peter Jackson to avoid such “mishaps”

      Whether it was studio pressure, lack of time, odd imagination, or any other reason, thankfully the concluding scenes with Bilbo’s farewell restore that much-needed balance to allow us to delve into the Fellowship of the Ring.

      Though BoTFA would be rank last in my Middle-earth films list, it still provides an entertaining experience beyond the average movie; and just as with the other 5 films, I wouldn’t mind watching it over and over again.

      As Roäc son of Carc would say: “I have spoken!” 😀

      • Thank you! I was afraid I had been to brusque. I had figured that you were just referring to the end of BOTFA, but I wanted to make sure.

        I’m glad we agree that all six films are fantastic. No other films come close to having the place movies hold in my heart.

        J.R.R. Tolkien once remarked about The Lord of the Rings that the parts some people loathed the most were the parts that other readers loved the most. It just goes to show that people don’t have to agree on everything about a film or book(even major issues) to both treasure it!.

  17. Great questions, questions that needed answers. I agree with you, James. I enjoyed the films but was overall greatly disappointed. The film should be renamed “The Battle to see more Legolas and Alfred”. Those two had way too much screen time. All the important characters, characters, we’ve been following through the first two films are thoroughly ignored. The battle was disappointing. Instead of showing the might of Durin’s folk in battle Jackson steals that moment with Elves leaping into the fray, stealing the scene. Also, the Elven army was big, where did it go? Within two shots that big golden mass is gone. Did thranduil deploy them elsewhere? Did they all die? Why weren’t they hailing arrows upon the orcs, killing thousands? The strategy of the battle was, well I was expecting more. There is no flanking by the elves or dwarves. where are the ram-cavalry, the ballistae?
    The confrontation between Azog and Thorin would have been better in the battle, especially with Beorn charging in to kill bolg. And where was Thorin’s call that rallied the elves, men, and dwarves? That would have been so good! Imagine, Azog and his guard attacking Thorin and Co. Thorin gets wounded, Kili and Fili jump in. It looks like they are going to beat bolg and Azog, then a backstab move and they’re dead. Dain rushes in to defend fallen Thorin and smashes Azog to puddy (actually giving Dain his kill and namesake from the books). Then Beorn rushes in, plows a gap through the orcs, and Bolg screams in fear (seeing his old nemesis) as Beorn wrecks him. The orcs are then routed by eagles and the remaining elves, dwarves, and men. The main characters rush to where thorin is fallen and mourn. then move the scene to the funeral. Where was the funeral in the movie?! The closure would have been perfect. Thranduil placing Orcrist on Thorin’s breast. Dain being crowned.
    Tell me that would have been better?

    Then there was the anticipation with white council vs. Sauron, and what did we get? Weird looking Nazgul, and a Galadriel covered in sea weed, looking more evil than filled with the light from Valinor and the First trees. And Saruman and Elrond doing nothing against Sauron. Elrond’s ring is more powerful then Galadriel’s.

    There were so many loose ends and terrible conclusions. I hope Jackson never touches Tolkien’s work again. He georgelucas-fied these films. It makes me sad and disappointed. The extended addition wont help, because the theatrical was not a complete film.

    I felt like this movie was a burn from Jackson to his fans. I love the books, study Tolkien’s works, and have defended Jackson’s choices throughout the Hobbit trilogy. Now I am embarrassed I did. Sorry for the rant, but its nice to get my frustration out with fans like me.

    • Pretty much agree with you word for word Caleb; especially Thorin’s rally and the Elven Army. I’m pretty sure we’re getting Dain’s Coronation and a few other loose ends being neatly tied (hopefully)

  18. I would want to know the reasons for Fili being ignored. It makes me sad for all the wrong reasons how Fili and Kili were handled. Kili thrown to die with the damned elves rather than his family, getting the most cheesy death imaginable and Fili downright ignored it’s painful.

    • It hurts so much to see how Fili is ignored. Like. I one even cares! But (maybe it’s just me) I kinda understand this article that Fili’s death wasn’t cruel or sad, I think that’s so disrespectful…. I seriously almost cried (pleas tell me that I understand it wrong)

      • Sarah, believe me. I understand your frustrations. Poor old Fili … thankfully, the funeral scene in the EE restores some respect towards the character.

  19. Beorn should’ve been “Tom Bombadil’d” and never written into these films at all. He serves no necessary narrative function; he’s just a time-filler in DOS and a fanservice-y cameo in BOTFA.

    • Hehe! But he’s such a pivotal character … which is frustrating considering the filmmakers sort of “teased” him in DoS, but then failed completely to give him any importance in BOTFA.

      I’ve always maintained (and this seems pretty clear in the book), that it was Beorn, rather than the Eagles, that saved the day during the battle.

  20. Thanks for this commentary, James. I agree with most of your points. Like you, I still enjoy the film (all of them), but BOFA left me disappointed in some important ways. I also agree with you that the film regained balance with Bilbo’s farewell and journey back to the Shire. I really loved its ending, with Bilbo unable to ignore The Ring. But I don’t cry when Thorin dies – and I adore Thorin (esp as RA plays him). I have wondered why and your commentary has helped explain it.

    Before I go on, I want to state that this will not stop me from enjoying the films nor praising Peter Jackson’s gifts. I think he got stuck laying the tracks before the moving train again – because he always wants to try doing this or that, maybe having too many ideas or not wanting to say no. However, even though I forgive him (LOL) I lay the film’s narrative shortcomings at his feet; I don’t believe they were the result of studio pressure. He’s Peter Jackson; he has full creative control. The only studio rule he has to abide by are deadlines, which are hard enough. I think he released the best film he could in the time he had. But I am hoping he will release a “better” version (not just a longer one) with the extended cut.

    I think your thesis that PJ made a major narrative mistake when he sent the four characters away from the main battle to Ravenhill is correct – but still, I think he could have made it work if only he had not (seemingly) lost sight of the themes he had developed in his own previous footage. By that I mean the relationship between Thorin and his nephews. That relationship should rightly culminate in their tragic deaths defending him. Tolkien does not dramatize it, so it could have been shot in a dozen ways. I would love to know, someday, what other ideas were discussed before they settled on what was shot.

    Thorin should die giving his all to defend his kingdom and his Dwarves. I have no objection to it including an epic fight to the death with his made-up adversary, especially when we are given the amazingly cool frozen-river imagery. But his death should not be separate from what has been driving him all along – to restore a homeland for his people.

    Our investment in Thorin ought to have led to a tragic yet glorious death, to come about because of his courage, his willingness to risk his life against terrible odds, to inspire others to such noble sacrifice. Wanting to take out the leader of the enemy army makes sense but leaving the battlefield leaderless to do so does not. Taking his three best fighters away from the heart of the battle also does not make sense (to me).

    We are led to believe they climb the hill to kill Azog but when Azog isn’t there, why do they stay, rather than rejoining the battle? And why do they make their predicament worse by splitting up and diminishing their already small number. And eventually, Fili and Kili die because Thorin makes a wildly wrong-headed decision to send them on a bizarre stealth mission – commanding them to “come back if you find something” rather than using their warrior skills to kill whatever enemies they come across.

    Thorin’s bad decision sends them to their deaths, ingloriously and un-necessarily – which is very different from their dying in battle as a result of their own choice to risk their lives out of courage and loyalty. Maybe someone else understands the military reason for what Thorin does – perhaps you can explain it to me?

    The answer appears to be, because PJ wanted to stage a really cool Western/Kurosawa style duel to the death on the frozen waterfall, with the sudden appearance of a new weapon, the chained block of rock. (I agree with you 100% about this weapon). Although I admit to finding the resulting duel visually stunning, and I especially enjoy Thorin’s resourcefulness before he confronts Azog (broken blades, punching, dodging) and I particularly enjoy the moment when he jumps off the tilting ice floe, that duel then culminates in the 2nd stupidest decision Thorin ever made, one so obvious that it nearly loses Thorin audience sympathy.

    Some beats that do make sense on Ravenhill (at least to me) starting with the moment that Kili explodes in rage at the death of Fili, and rushes off alone to chop Orc heads; followed by Thorin’s subsequent rush to follow Kili and Dwalin’s rush to follow Thorin. But none of that leads to the emotional payoff that it ought to, because each of them is alone, no longer defending each other or anyone else. Dwalin apparently leaves Thorin to his own devices because we next see him defending Bilbo. I’m certainly not sorry he saved Bilbo, by why on earth would Dwalin abandon Thorin at all, ever, especially now? It flies in the face of everything we have learned about Dwalin.

    Again, PJ partially frees himself from the corner he’s painted himself into by allowing Thorin to sacrifice his own life as a way of killing his enemy, but as well acted as this moment is, it has nowhere near the type of emotional effect of (as someone else mentioned) Boromir’s death. (I cry when Bain brings the arrow to Bard; I cry when Fili dies; but not when I lose my gorgeous Thorin). Because Thorin is not defending anyone, spending his last ounce of strength. He’s getting revenge. It’s not heroic and he deserved better. And as you (and others) pointed out, having the eagles arrive while both Thorin and Azog are still alive turns the tide of the battle too soon and actually makes Thorin’s sacrifice a wasted effort.

    I liked the connection between Kili and Tauriel but I didn’t expect PJ to let it interfere with his emotional devotion to his uncle, which was demonstrated so affectingly mere moments before (“It’s not in my blood”; “Durin’s folk do not flee from a fight”). Something I will always wonder about – what if Kili had been faced with a choice between defending Tauriel’s life and Thorin’s? That would have been cool.

    And while I’m on that subject, a pet peeve – Kili is in Bolg’s grasp; Tauriel tries valiantly to deflect Bolg’s sword. She is then brutally tossed to the edge of the cliff, where she lies, groaning. She turns and watches Kili as Bolg raises the blade to stab him. Why doesn’t she get up? Evie is excellent, selling her desperation to save him, but PJ doesn’t give her a fractured leg or let her slip OFF the cliff, struggling to get back up as Kili’s chances shrink. No, she lies there and watches Kili get skewered. How could a bad ass fighter like Tauriel pause for breath right then, when the man (Dwarf) she loves needs a miracle, why wouldn’t she do something, anything, to scramble back, bite Bolg’s foot, throw a rock, fling herself in front of Kili. Or why didn’t PJ have her slip off the cliff and have her unable to get back up in time to save him? Arghh! 8~)

    I enjoyed seeing Legolas’s prowess (including the falling “stairs”) and was glad when he finally dispatched Bolg, but we are not invested in Legolas the way we are in Thorin (or Bilbo), so I think the decision to give that duel essentially the same weight as Thorin/Azog was also wrong-headed. Include it, yes, but make it more comedic like it is in LOTR. And, I, too, wanted an actual payoff for Beorn – why couldn’t Bolg have been killed by both Beorn and Leggy?

    Ah well. I love AUJ and DOS so much I can tolerate the disappointments of BOFA. And I look forward to the Extended cut and whatever films PJ wants to make in the future. And I hope someone good makes a 4-5 season Silmarillion before I get cataracts. 8~)

    • Hi Anoriel!

      Thanks so much for your detailed and interesting comments 🙂

      I like your Peter Jackson train analogy … seems about right!

      As for the studio’s control over him, I’m not so sure I agree. As you said, after LoTR, I would have expected PJ to have his say but the way things have turned out, I’m doubtful and suspect some studio intrusions that affected the overall film(s).

      As for the Ravenhill Conflict, while having the three dwarves on the main battlefield would have been better, I agree that had PJ really focused on what’s important, the scene could still have worked nonetheless.

      “Wanting to take out the leader of the enemy army makes sense but leaving the battlefield leaderless to do so does not.” – Couldn’t have said it better! 🙂

      As for Thorin’s decision to send out Fili and Kili to “scout the area”, I can only think of two things to explain this:

      1) Thorin was afraid, so he sent his nephews instead
      2) Peter Jackson is making it plainly obvious he wants to separate the 3 and kill them off one by one.

      Given Thorin’s character, I highly doubt it’s the first one.

      And I pretty much agree on the rest of your thoughts 😉

      As for Tauriel and Kili, I’m afraid my worst fears came through. I had suspected (and feared) for a while that Kili’s demise may be brought about by his act to defend Tauriel … and we all know exactly what happens *sigh*

      But yes, I still love this trilogy!

  21. One other thought I had that I meant to put in my post above – I’m not sure where I heard this – I guess in an interview with PJ at the premier – he either said or suggested that he first watched the movie from beginning to end at the premier (or the night before, maybe?) Anyway – not that you can believe everything that is said in an interview but if it IS true, it wouldn’t surprise me and I sure wish he HAD. Maybe if he had watched it four or five times from beginning to end before his final edit, it might have sunk in that the climax didn’t work? I don’t know. It struck me as a strange and unsettling comment for a professional film director.

  22. I could never put forth such a thorough critique of this movie, but I fully agree with everything you say. To me, this movie had perhaps the biggest peaks and valleys in the series. What was done well (e.g., nearly everything with Bilbo) was superb and stood out among all the character scenes. But what was done poorly (Tauriel, Legolas, Ravenhill, Fili, Beorn, Dol Guldur, Dain, etc., etc.) was easily the worst filmography in all six movies. Had this trilogy been done exactly the same prior to LOTR, I doubt LOTR would have ever been made. Granted, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Lee Pace, and many of the Dwarves’ actors were born to play their parts, but this film is the black sheep of the Middle-earth film saga.

    • Hey Cillendor, thanks for your comments 🙂

      I like how you put it that BoTFA is the “black sheep” of this saga. As much as I hate to say it, I think it is. I’m hoping (though keeping low expectations) that those 20 minutes of the Extended Edition will seriously restore some balance to it.

      Any more minutes used to “flesh out” Legolas or Alfrid moments will significantly diminish my views towards Peter Jackson – which I had thought was impossible up till a few years ago … *sigh* I can’t believe I said that …

      • I know what you mean. Prior to BOTFA, my only significant complaint was the way they set up Thranduil’s backstory and motivations. Instead of that stupid dragon scar scene, I was hoping for something out of Unfinished Tales.

        Scene: Thranduil, Oropher, Elrond, Elendil, Isildur, and Durin gathered around a map at the pinnacle of Minas Tirith, discussing a strategy to assault Mordor. Elrond and Oropher get in an argument over Mirkwood’s position. Thranduil tries to calm it, referring to Oropher as “father” for the audiences’ sake. Then a cut to the battle, with Thranduil narrating. You see Oropher say something about advancing, Thranduil tries to stop him (“But Lord Elrond said!”), and Oropher going for the charge anyway. Then Thranduil sees Oropher and most of their army get slaughtered by Orcs, with a cut back to the present as Thranduil summarizes and tells Thorin how from that day he has thought solely for the security of his people, and Thorin is a fool for wanting to release a Dragon upon them all.

        Other than THAT, I’ve been quite happy with the Hobbit movies until BOTFA. I’m holding out on the EE to fix everything, but I fear it’s pointless. Maybe the super-duper extended Middle-earth boxed set extravaganza on the 25th anniversary or whenever will be the real salvation.

      • Unfortunately, Unfinished Tales is out of bounds since it doesn’t fall under the LOTR/Hobbit copyright. But I agree that Thranduil, although greatly introduced as a pompous character, he really need to have something to empathise with; and the concept of the gems being a memory of his wife would have been a fantastic way to do so. Pity they abandoned it completely.

  23. […] I have already stated that the extended editions should not be a director’s final resort in fixing theatrical cuts. Unlike The Lord of the Rings, whereby the additional scenes helped to further enhance the story, all the extended installments in The Hobbit felt like a necessity: supporting weak scenes and awkward editing, whilst strengthening the overall flow of each film. […]

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