MV5BODAzMDgxMDc1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTI0OTAzMjE@._V1_SX214_AL_What’s it all about?

There may be spoilers in this discussions so if you don’t know the story in a book published 77 years ago then you might not want to read any further though I’m going to be circumspect if I can (and certainly will try to avoid the changes made from book to film), but like I say, it was published in 1937 and there is the whole Lord of the Rings thing which gives some of it away (Bilbo survives. With the ring).

Anyway, IMDb thinks The Hobbit: TBotFA is about this:

Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the terrifying Smaug from acquiring a kingdom of treasure and obliterating all of Middle-Earth.

Well, that’s not quite how I remember it. I mean, everything in that paragraph is true; there is Bilbo, there is the Company, there is a war with (what a surprise) five armies involved, and there is indeed Smaug. But it doesn’t quite happen in that order and I seem to recall that (a) Smaug already has the treasure and (b) he kind of targets Laketown which is by no stretch of the imagination all of Middle Earth.

Oh dear, not even got past the synopsis and I’m already getting waspish. But that’s my usual gripe with IMDb and not really about the film. Probably.

Why did I want to see it?

It’s Tolkien. I’ve seen and loved all three LoTR films in their standard and extended versions, several times. I have seen and enjoyed the first two Hobbit films (see here for An Unexpected Journey and here for The Desolation of Smaug) to varying degrees (it’s interesting how relatively little I had to say about the second one though…), so I wanted to see how Bilbo’s story would conclude given the sudden ending of DoS and the feeling that these are increasingly films for hardcore Tolkien fans rather than the general audience.

What did I think of it?

Well, the first thing to say is that I did enjoy TBotFA even though I had to watch it in 3D (change of plan, totally out of my control, I do not like 3D at all) and that although it is a long film it didn’t feel like a long film as there was so much going on. Perhaps too much.

The things that worked for me:

  • Richard Armitage as Thorin was absolutely magnificent and the best thing in the whole film especially in the later stages when the Inevitable Thing happens. I cried for a good 10 minutes or so at that point. He totally captured the tragedy of Thorin, just brilliant
  • Thranduil’s battle elk
  • Bard the Bowman
  • Kili and Fili
  • Smaug’s attack on Laketown (over all to quickly and I still think that should have been at the end of the second film)
  • (Surprisingly) the romance between Tauriel and Kili which I don’t seem to have liked very much in the second film but which I found very affecting here, for obvious reasons and not to be gone into in detail

The things that didn’t work for me:

  • there just wasn’t enough Bilbo
  • there was too much Legolas; I know he’s a fan favourite and I do enjoy his character but there was just too much of him and I thought it got a bit silly and the Legolas foreshadowing of LoTR jarred
  • insufficient Smaug (see my comments above)
  • insufficient Necromancer (all that build-up and that’s what we got)
  • the battle scenes were very CGI heavy and although impressive I thought they lacked something – emotional engagement perhaps?

I am dithering about this, I know. It feels churlish to be picking holes in what, if you take all six films together, is a huge achievement but I still think splitting The Hobbit into three films doesn’t entirely work, at least not for me. I’ve said elsewhere that I think these are three good films hiding a really great one.

What’s interesting is that the Book God thought it was the best of the three (which surprised me, though he does enjoy a good battle scene). My friend Silvery Dude however was underwhelmed; we had an exchange of e-mails about the film, and he agreed that there were things to like but for him

I wanted to love it.  So sad it’s over.  But I expected more
So, divided opinion. I think this is one to let settle and perhaps watch properly as a trilogy when I might appreciate it more. And like I said, I did enjoy it, I’m just not sure that I loved it. YMMV.