Page to Screen: The Hobbit — The Battle of the Five Armies


The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien


2014 • 144 minutes • Warner Brothers Pictures

“We’re still on for seeing The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies tomorrow, right?”

“I’ve scheduled it in as ’12:05 PM: UGH’ on the calendar.”

Yes, it’s been a long time since I excitedly herded a pack of Valkyries to the midnight premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey back in 2012 resplendent in a homemade Fili costume. Despite the fact that my heart has ever beat for Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings ere we met, Les Hobbitses un et deux have both proven to be lesser footnotes in the canon of Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies shares much of the same problems with its predecessors. All of The Hobbit films heavily rely on CGI that gives the whole proceedings the weightless, stakes-less look of a mid-aughts video game that can only look worse when compared against the jaw-dropping tactility of The Lord of the Rings. The literary protein powder required to bulk up The Hobbit into a trilogy, while organically sourced from the Appendices, ends up muddying the narrative structure. (As in food and as in fashion, it’s always easier to edit down from too much than the opposite.) And the overwhelming nostalgia for the original trilogy that saturated The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug takes new form in pointed elbows to the rib about Dúnedain kids showing promise.

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Review: The Hobbit — The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
based on 
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien


There was never any chance that a The Hobbit film coming from the production team behind Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings was ever going to be as sweet, comedic, self-contained, and child-friendly as J. R. R. Tolkien’s first novel. Even Tolkien was tempted to rewrite The Hobbit to match the high, historical tones of his greatest work, but he eventually abandoned that project. The original plan seemed, if a little bit of a stretch, at least quite of a piece with the original trilogy: two films telling not only the story of the Quest for Erebor, but also the work of the White Council that sets the board for The Lord of the Rings. But stretching that out into three films teasing the three hour mark (to set aside the inevitable extended editions)? Well, we’ve seen how that turned out in An Unexpected Journey—an ultimately mixed film suffering from too much CGI, tonal issues, and a bloated script, but with flashes of brilliance.

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Saturday Morning Opinions: Hobbit Production Diary #12 and Trailer #2

The Hobbit - The Desolation Of Smaug Movie Guide - Luke Evans

Despite my hot-and-cold reaction to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, my excitement for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has been ramping up. Some of it is the inclusion of baby!Bilbo in the extended edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, some of it is the prospect of elves (including Tauriel) in Desolation of Smaug, and some of it is the fact that Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle-Earth will always be near and dear to my heart. All of which is to say, it’s time for a frame-by-frame reaction to both the new diary and the new trailer.

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Review: Roverandom

Roverandom by J. R. R. Tolkien


Sometimes, I feel absurdly lucky that I was introduced to The Lord of the Rings via Peter Jackson’s films in the early aughts. The Lord of the Rings was, without a doubt, cool when I got into it. And not just in my circle of friends in middle school, who tried to teach themselves Elvish and wore ninja shoes to school—it was part of the pop culture vernacular. Return of the King won eleven Oscars on one of the greatest days of my twelfth year on this Earth. (To be fair, there wasn’t a lot of competition.) Obviously, mainstream approval isn’t necessary for me as a fan these days (witness my adoration of Plunkett and Macleane), but only something that glowed that brightly in could pierce the pop culture resistant bubble I grew up in.

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The Sunday Salon: The Hobbit 2 Trailer #1

While I found The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to be a mixed bag, I, nonetheless, dropped everything and ran to my laptop a little before 1 PM this past Tuesday. There’s always something about your first fandom, isn’t there? (Sit down, Digimon, you don’t count.) Plus, it’s the summer for television, I’m almost done with the Bondathon in real time, and I’m lying in painful wait for a copy of Star Trek: The Voyage Home to come in at the library, so I’m a little starved for content at the moment. And so, like everyone else on the Internet, I offer up my traditional frame-by-frame analysis. Hit it.

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The Sunday Salon: My Ideal Bookshelf 2013

In curating your ideal bookshelf, you are constructing an expression of yourself in that specific moment: what’s important to you right now? The contributors to My Ideal Bookshelf have different ideas of import. Some focus on reference, others on beloved texts, others on texts they haven’t read yet but want to or think they need to. As an editor at heart, curation comes naturally to me: my spring cleanings are more ruthless culls. With my birthday on Tuesday, I thought this would be a good time to start a new tradition: to celebrate my nativity each year, I will curate my ideal bookshelf, so that I may count my rings in the future. The rules? Ten books I would actually use as reference material. Commence shakedown.

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The Sunday Salon: The Lord of the Rings — The Musical

Did you know that there’s a The Lord of the Rings musical? Because there totally is.

For some reason, though, the fact of its existence never sank in, even when a fellow high school thespian told me about how much he’d enjoyed the stagecraft of the production when he saw it in Toronto. But last year, whist browsing TheOneRing.Net’s forums, I found out the cast recording was available on Spotify, and I began to investigate the now-closed show in earnest.
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The Sunday Salon: Fiction Into Reality

Last month over at the blog, Emily Asher-Perrin posted “Fiction Into Reality: Why We Borrow From What We Love”. Asher-Perrin talks about how we deliberately mimic our favorite characters and our stories; for example, as a little kid, she would sometimes dress up a little bit like Luke Skywalker as a little kid to liven up the humdrum routine of school. She concludes that “[m]aybe it’s a little bit about courage. About reinvention. About taking charge of yourself, and becoming the person you want to be.” I think we see the same sentiment in I Want My MTV, when artist Howard Jones states that “[s]urely that’s one of the functions of pop culture, to show people that there are many options out there and you can choose which one is right for you” (115). Given the diverse tastes of fans, we’ve got a lot of options to choose from, and reading Asher-Perrin’s post made me want to share some of the stuff that I have consciously taken from fandom.

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