The teaser trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was released this week and has sped its way through the Tolkien fan digital community. You can check out the footnote conversation at A Tolkienest Perspective, or some thoughts about film adaptation at The Oddest Inkling.
My review of the first film was called, “Not All Adventures Begin Well“–I think it’s pretty obvious how I felt. My review for The Desolation of Smaug was more reflective, considering why it is that Peter Jackson’s adaptations swing so wide of the mark. I argued there that in turning a fairy tale into an epic, he captured all the adventure and psychology and violence that is missing in the fairy tale, and missed all the mythic elements that are essential for an epic. In short, the films fell between two stools.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I loved watching the movies. I relished in lining up with friends, sitting next to people with incredibly hairy feet, feasting on the screen, and then arguing about it afterward. I think they were pretty good films. But they were very flawed as adaptations.
And that is exactly why I have hope for the third film. C.S. Lewis noted in his earliest reviews of The Hobbit that it began in fairy tale, but took on a darker tone by the end. The Hobbit grows into the genre of epic, trying it on at the end with global warfare, new allegiances, great deeds, prophecy fulfilled, and the heat of Smaug.
This is exactly what the third Hobbit film promises to give us. The Battle of Five Armies, if it is done well, could really bring us to the heights of The Return of the King.
Perhaps I should be wiser, and temper my hope. Once bitten, thrice shy, after all. But Jackson is a genius at the epic, and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy forged in me new expectations of what film-making and writing epic fantasy could be like.
So here is the teaser trailer for The Battle of Five Armies. I hope you enjoy, and do let me know what you think in the comments below, or share your thoughts on twitter (I’m @BrentonDana).
I can’t trust them now. They have failed to trust US this far, and I do not expect that to change.
Like the others, it will be visually gorgeous, but they have lost so much credibility to me now that I don’t think I can muster sympathy or empathy with any character in this story except, maybe, Bilbo, who will, unless things change, have a fraction of the screen-time that he should. Even this teaser trailer focuses on pretty much everyone but him. He’s little more than a witness to the goings on around him, which turns the whole story, and the point of the story, right on its head and undermines Jackson’s LotR trilogy, to boot.
…sorry for being doom and gloom, but I’ve been bitten twice, and I’m ten-times shy.
Yes, I think we argued about this last Christmas, didn’t we? I enjoyed them more, and saw more of their potential than you did. Perhaps I just simply wanted them to be good.
(and I changed it to “once bitten, thrice shy”–it is a trilogy after all)
Well, obviously not about the upcoming film, but yes. 😉
I’m preparing to finally really speak my piece on Desolation. The only thing that has held me back so far is the need to watch it again.
I look forward to reading it!
You might prefer not to. I have this… it’s not enough to consider a “philosophy” but I am too sleepy to figure out what to call it. I’ve reached an age where I don’t do so well on 4 hours of sleep. -_-
But the not-quite-philosophy states that it is bad to take away a person’s enjoyment of a book, film, piece of art, place, etc. simply because s/he has enjoyed something I don’t like. There are multiple reasons I hold this view, but the upshot is, I am glad you enjoy the films, and if my review might take some of the shine off that enjoyment, skip it. The movies will provide you with more entertainment in the long run than a blog-post review.
You know, I think I agree with every word that Jubilare writes here. It had not struck me till I read her comment that Jackson clearly does not believe in the story of Bilbo. In the first film he tries to turn him into a clichéd modern hero (the toughest, the bravest etc. Remember when Bilbo attacks the orcs in order to save Thorin?) but by the second film he has clearly lost interest in Bilbo because he won’t fit into the clichéd mode. The one thing to say in Jackson’s defence is that Bilbo does spend most of the Battle of the Five Armies in a state of unconsciousness and so can’t do very much!
I knew the opposition to my hope would be fierce!
This is a knew thought for me, the disappearing Hobbit in the Hobbit.
I haven’t even touched Desolation of Smaug. I fear it will be too painful. I have even less hope for The Battle of Five Armies. I think it’ll be an exhausting mess.
Once again, I look forward to (1) the enjoyment the film itself will offer, and (2) the hope that it will lead some of its viewer to the source material (i.e. Tolkien). Of course, some may consider themselves “misled” when comparing the source to the films…
I do try to separate the two: 1) is it a good film? 2) is it a faithful adaptation? if not, does it move the art and story forward or backward?
I must admit that I gave up after the first film – it was a huge disappointment to me after the quality of the LoTR movies. I say this as someone who has not read The Hobbit in a long time – so it was more about the film as a film than its departure from the source material.
No, the first film was not nearly what the LOTR films were (or what it could have been). I think I know why, or figured out why, so I enjoyed the second film better.
Is this something you figured out after you reviewed it, or before?
It’s in the Desolation of Smaug review. Jackson missed “myth.” I first said that he fell between 2 stools, neither epic nor fairytale. Then I wondered if he missed even the epic part which was key in LOTR–the mythic element.
I enjoyed Desolation of Smaug, until someone said it was more a video game than a film and I realised they were right. I decided I’m not driving for two hours to the nearest town with a cinema to watch the final one – I’d wait for the dvd – but seeing this trailer and reading your hopeful observations I think this one might be worthy of the big screen after all.
Would making it a video game make it bad? The question makes me curious. To me, that would be a new genre of film and then it would be pretty different from the book.
The blogger in question’s argument was basically that it was a good film, if the intention was to make a film-version of a video game, but that it failed as an adaptation of Tolkien’s novel.
You are right, but I have been thinking about what that phrase means, “more a video game than a film.” What would the distinction be between the two?
I see I’ll have to be careful commenting here. No making statements without being able to back them up 😀
You made me look up the original post and the author’s argument, as I understand it and tend to agree with, is that the focus was more on the action sequences than on the story. Not that action is bad, mind you, but several of the main action sequences in the film doesn’t even exist in the book and some of the best parts of the book in terms of story are completely downplayed in the film. Here’s a link to that post: http://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/if-you-think-of-jacksons-hobbit-as-a-fan-fic-video-game-it-makes-more-sense/
(Ironically, video games are becoming ever-more-story-focused, with cutscenes so long (albeit with excellent graphics) that I can go make a cup of coffee and drink it before I’m needed to continue with the game. I’m not a fan of cutscenes in video games. If I want to watch a movie I’ll rent a dvd. If I play a game I want to play, not watch.)
I think it fails as a good film, regardless of whether it is an adaptation or not. However, I suppose it depends on the definition of “good.” Even I will admit it’s pretty entertaining when it’s not making me squirm, and perhaps that is merit enough to make it a good film.
I love video-games, and I think they’re coming into their own in terms of story-telling. The question may be, though, whether or not the video-game-like action sequences work in the film without the added excitement of the viewer controlling something (and having a high chance of failure!).
It’s a funny thought, though. I can easily point out “cut scenes” and “play-through” parts now that I think about it. I think it’d make a much better game than a movie. XD
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