Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies: I’m Glad THAT’S Over … !

11th April, 2015.

You know, I’m something of a film fan.

Well … 

I’m someone that likes watching films, let’s put it that way.

I think the term film fan possibly implies a level of geekiness that really isn’t me.   At least, as far as films are concerned.

At any rate, I like a film, every-so-often.   I’ll quite happily sit through something … if I believe it will repay me with an evening’s entertainment.

I’ve done that, tonight.

In purchasing — purchasing, note — the third part in Peter Jackson’s take on J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit: called The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies.

And having sat through some one hundred and forty-four minutes of movie?   Can’t help but think someone’s bitten off a bit more than he can chew.

I don’t know about director, Peter Jackson … but I know I’ve got work in the morning!

Right at the moment, it’s 22:50.   And I’m due to whole my ageing carcass out of bed incredibly early: to get myself into work for 10:30.

I’ve done stupider things, in my time: as I’m sure friends and family will tell you.

Right now … ?

Right now, I’m trying to think of a stupider one than watching a long movie, before a seriously early morning.

And RIGHT NOW … ?   I’m going to hit the save button on TextEdit so I can climb into the sack … 


12th April, 2015.   (8:40.)

Right … 

It’s morning … and I’m desperately adding text to this post … 

Or, at least, adding text to the text file that’s going to be the post.   Ahem … !

Last night saw me with an evening off: an evening off, and enough credit to either rent or buy a film.

Personally, I’d’ve preferred to rent one: I didn’t.

Because the film that I wanted to see was The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies.   As I write … ?   As I write, it’s not one that’s available to rent on the UK iTunes Store: until 20th April of this year.   There’s possibly more to be said on that, later.

At ANY rate … ?   At ANY rate, I many to buy a copy of The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies: something I’d wanted to see for a while: having seen the first two parts.

And I must say, I’m impressed with it: and liked it.   But I’ve got my reservations …

12th April, 2015.   (17:10.)
Let’s get back to the film, shall we?   As I’m back home.

Beginning just after the end of The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies opens by showing Smaug — voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch — attacking Lake Town.

And killed, with-in some five or so minutes, by Bard, played by Luke Evans.

In the wake of Smaug’s attack, Lake Town is destroyed: and the dwarves who’d headed for Mount Erebor are assumed to have died, trying to get to him.

But the fires the company light tell the survivors of Lake Town that Thorin’s group are alive.

Those fires — and Lake Town’s own destruction by Smaug — tell Thranduil, King of the Elves, that the mountain is only protected by thirteen dwarves.

That’s news that’s ALSO passed to Azog and Bolg, the orcs who’ve been trailing Thorin and his party.

Anyone who’s anyone wants either revenge, reparations, weregild … 

Or pots of cash.

The only people that don’t … ?

Are Gandalf*: who’s really only worried what will happen if the orcs win any battle outside Erebor.

And Bilbo†.

Who wants every one to stop fighting, so he can go home.

Of course, he’s realised the only person who can talk to elf, dwarf, human and wizard, and persuade them that stopping the orcs is a good idea?   Is he, himself.

He’s going to have to put some hours, before he gets back to Bag End … 


Now, this whole shebang leaves us with questions.

For starters, was I impressed with The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies?

Did I enjoy it?

Was it something I felt enhanced both the novel it’s based on, and be a good film?

Well … let’s put it this way, shall we?

The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies is a beautifully crafted film: I don’t think I can fault either Peter Jackson, the cast, crew or production companies involved, in making the thing The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies.

It’s beautifully designed.

I spent quite a bit of time, last night, ogling the interior sets of the Lonely Mountain, fixated with the beauty of the place, wanting to visit it.

It’s wonderfully written: the interplay between script and cast, and the way they played their lines, had me hooked.   I felt both Richard Armitage, as Thorin, and Martin Freeman as Bilbo, were both ideally casted, and played their roles very well.

As did Luke Evens — Bard — and Lee Pace: as the icy King of Mirkwood, Thranduil.

The overall story?

Flowed … well.

Yes: it adds to the The Hobbit, I feel.

My real gripe … ?

Is that the film was maybe half an hour or so, too long.

Granted, the thing’s called The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies: but I think we maybe could’ve done with a bit less battle, cutting some scenes shorter, and dropping others.

Or maybe just referring to them in dialogue.

Personally, I’m aware I found myself tempted to hit the fast forward button on some scenes: purely to get past them.

That’s not necessarily a good thing.   We know the battle’s there: surely a touch more cutting could have prevented boredom?

On the whole?

On the whole, I’m thinking that The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies is a fine film: a good addition to the series, and a good conclusion.   Although it suffer from the padding the first in the series did.

It could well have been shorter: I think that that could’ve done both it, and the preceding two films‡,¹ a favour.
The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies


Of course, in the words of both Columbo, and the late Steve Jobs?

There is just one more thing … 

You may or may not be aware of it, but the DVD/Blu-ray versions of The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies came out in the United States at the end of March: although I don’t know if that’s for sale or rent.

I’m VERY aware that the version currently available on the UK iTunes store is only available to buy.   Not to rent.

Which is why I purchased it.

I’m VERY aware that we can rent it from iTunes on the 20th of April.   Likewise, versions on optical disc are only available on Amazon UK … from the same date.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but wonder ask something, here.

I’m VERY aware that movie companies are, understandably, doing anything and everything they can to combat video piracy.

Suing illegal downloaders, asking governments to enforce laws more heavily, insisting vendors use copy protection.

That’s understandable.

Whether we do or don’t approve, it’s understandable.   After all, media businesses are businesses, and in it for the money.

However, I have to note that I got cheeky.

And went and had a look on a couple of sites known for illegally allowing visitors to download torrents: files that let us illegally download copyright righted material.

Without having to pay the movie companies or copyright holders for the privilege.

Whether that’s right or wrong?   Whether it’s legal or not?

Legal, moral or otherwise, it strikes me that movies companies could save themselves some problems by doing a simultaneous world-wide release of films to both video-on-demand services, AND physical formats like blu-ray and DVD.   For purchase AND rental.

JUST a thought … 

*        Sir Ian McKellan.

†        Martin Freeman.

¹        I’m very aware that — originally — the trilogy had been conceived by its original director — the very talented Guillermo Del Toro — as a duology.   A two parter, in other words.   After having sat through all three films?   I think it should have stayed a two parter …

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