Quick Review: The Hobbit–The Battle of the Five Armies

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If you’re planning to see The Hobbit during the holidays, here are some suggestions for enjoying the film, particularly if you have read and loved the book.

(BTW, just so you’ll know, I began reading Tolkien when I was 15 years old and have lost count of the number of times I’ve read The Hobbit and LOTR.)

1. Enjoy “The Hobbit” on its own terms and resist the temptation to make comparisons. Books and movies are apples and oranges–totally different mediums. A movie can never be totally faithful in reproducing a novel. Novels are much richer in detail and even the best film adaptations are only able to hit the highlights of the book (case in point, “To Kill a Mockingbird”).

2. Understand that some “additions” are market driven (e.g. the Tauriel-Kili love story, the inclusion of Legolas, etc.) to appeal to fans of the LOTR films and certain demographics (female filmgoers). I learned this when I was writing my second novel (Mercy Killer) and was encouraged to have a strong female lead character because so many readers are women.

3. Keep in mind that other “additions” are actually extrapolations from Tolkien’s vast mythology. For example, the events at Dol Guldur, where Gandalf & Co. drive out Sauron are referred to in The Hobbit and LOTR. The filmmakers just expanded on what Tolkien wrote.

4. As for the “bloated” nature of the whole series, chalk that up to the need to have “The Hobbit” films measure up to the standard of the LOTR films. One could argue that Peter Jackson would have done better with two films rather than three, but what’s done is done.

I could go on, but my main advice would be to just go and enjoy the movie. I had a good time and found it to be a fun, well-acted, film.

That’s not to say that I thought everything was great.

The actual battle goes on for roughly the same amount of time as World War II. (However, the length of the battle sequence did allow me a much needed bathroom break without missing any important plot points.)

And there were some serious eye-rolling moments when Legolas repeatedly defies the laws of physics. (I know elves are agile and all, but come on!)

But over all, the film was a satisfying, fun time. And it neatly segues into the first LOTR film. So, soon you’ll be able to watch all 6 films in sequence in an 18+ hour marathon. (Won’t that be fun!)

So if you’re looking for something fun to do with the family this Christmas/New Year’s week, check out “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” and enjoy the experience.

(But don’t drink a large drink at the beginning of the film. And if you do, just wait till the battle starts. You’ll have plenty of time to make a restroom run without missing anything of importance.)

Out of five stars, I give it four.

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  1. Fun review, Jim. I am hoping to see this in the theater with my son . . . He and I have been watching the 5 LOTR and TH movies together. — Bob Irvin, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

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