Monday, 15 December 2014

Defining the Final Chapter

For anyone who hasn't read the book there will be SPOILERS, so read on if you are ok with this.

The film picks up exactly where the Desolation of Smaug ended. This first section sets the tone for the rest of the film and reveals Bard's heroic, yet modest nature and skills. He kills the dragon.  But I think that was obvious from the trailers. After Smaug is destroyed, crushing most of Lake Town along with him, there are mentions that others will look to the mountain and that is when the film's title appears.

There are far more characters involved now and each are given something to do (thank god, no one floundering around). The armies slowly come together, apart from the Orc hordes, they ready as soon the film starts. Orcs are disgusting but they are patient, they must have been waiting for the signal or call for months. The men of Lake Town take refugee in the ruins of Dale, reluctantly lead by Bard and Thranduil, King of the Woodland Elves bring aid not out of kindness but so he can swing by the mountain to get his white gems. Thorin, who is going mad, has made plans and called on his cousin Dain in the Ironhills to come and fight when he suspects that everyone will try and steal his treasure. Gandalf is stuck in a bird cage in Dol Guldur and Legolas and Tauriel decide to find out where the Orcs went. The film leads up to the 45 minute battle scene which is amazing and as the film is called 'battle of' it is fair to say that it is not too long.

I was surprised that Battle of the Five Armies isn't that long either. It was a little over 2 hours. Just an observation in case you were thinking of what snacks and provisions to take with you.

There were a few scenes missing from the second film, just a few things but they were included in the extended version, with the third instalment, nothing was missing, except maybe the end. So much fuss was made of the false ending in Return of the King, with this film, it ends. In fact it comes full circle ending on the first few lines Bilbo and Gandalf exchange in Fellowship of the Ring, which is links and ties up the story. But I felt that there needed to be more of an end after the battle. Favourite characters do die and it is incredibly sad. The people of Lake Town should tribute by blowing a large horn and standing in silence on the cities wall but that's it, then Bilbo leaves. There was little resolution there. I am praying that more is explained in the extended version. In the book, I'm sure, and the BBC radio drama version, things were wrapped up. Bard is made master of the town, funerals take place, the treasure is equally divided and there is more of an end, that's all I'm saying.

Aside from the enviable epic battle, there are a some touching scenes. A conversation between Dwalin and Thorin when the former is trying to convince him to follow the Dwarf army, their kin, into battle, is brilliant and also it was nice to see a reasonable dwarf in the company that wasn't Balin. It was an out of character scene for the violent fighter Dwalin and it was perfectly placed. Another touching moment was between Bard and his son, Bain. When Bard sees his bow is broken he fashions a sling shot to shoot the black arrow at Smaug, Bain has his back to the dragon being used to steady the arrow. Everything slows down and Bard, very calm tells his son to look at him. It's brief and it, in a way encapsulates Bard's reasoning. He's not looking to be a hero, he just wants to save his children. Another brief moment between a father and son, Thranduil and Legolas, is near the end. Thranduil, who usually shows little emotion other than anger or annoyance, looks for Legolas. He is worried for his son but as soon as he finds him, reverts back to his usual expression. Pity there isn't more about this family.

The Tauriel, Kili, Legolas triangle comes to a head. It's just as unnecessary as it was in DOS and even more confusing. Basically, it still doesn't work. In the movie guide (I bought them all!) John Howe says that Tauriel is out of love with everything else and has turned to Kili, who is going through the same thing, so it's not exactly love, its almost love. Which ever way you view it, its not clear what she is really thinking.

Thorin is going through his mad king phase suffering from 'dragon sickness', obsessing over his gold. I was please to see the signature scenes from the book were put in. Thorn threatens to throw Bilbo from the gates where the dwarves have barricaded themselves in. Bilbo was trying to help his friend by keeping the Arkenstone and then giving it Bard and Thranduil to bargain with. All to avoid battle. It's a great scene which actually starts the battle off. Thorin steady decline into madness is brilliantly done, expressed in his little talks with Bilbo when he heard Smaug's voice blend into Thorin's.

Apart from the last scene at the end, there are obvious links to LOTR. When Galadrial, Elrond and Sauruman come to Gandalf aid, they are attacked by the Nine Mortal Men who were given rings, yes, there are to become Ringwraiths then are attached by Sauron himself. Galadrial banishes him to the East (Mordor) and Elrond suggests they warn Gondor but Saruman casually says everything is fine, he hasn't got the ring and then says he'll deal with him. But we all know what happens there. Another hint to the future, Thranduil actually shows emotion after looking for Legolas, thinking he was dead, finds him heartbroken. Legolas just says 'I can't go back' so his father suggests to go see a ranger, 'his father Arathorn was a good man and he is set to be a great man'. Oh and this ranger's name is Strider. Massive hint there. The ends an epic trilogy to set up for an even bigger journey and adventure.

In fact after seeing it (twice) I had the urge to go home and watch all of LOTR. I stopped this urge by watching some sic-fi and catching up on Twin Peaks, just to take my mind off the film. I am that attached.

I am hoping to actually do the marathon before the end of the year, with all 5 films, as it would be difficult to factor in the current release. I would have to dash off to the cinema and dash back. This is when an in-house cinema would come in handy. One day.

I definitely recommend this for any film fan, Tolkien appreciation society and those who have been as touched as me by the films. Go see it OneLastTime


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