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From Novels to Movies Part 2: The Battle of the Five Senses

A Review of The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

January 5, 2015 1:06 pm | 1 Comment

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A few months ago I lamented over bad movie adaptations from books.  I am always hopeful that some film director will suck me into their painfully accurate rendition of their favorite novel, but I am usually disappointed. I have had to train myself to view movies completely separate from their paper bound counterparts. Every good book I have read has engaged all of my senses—I can see, touch, taste, smell, and hear everything. A good movie really only engages two, at most three, senses—mostly sight, sound, and sometimes  touch or taste. So, in order to make up for the lack of sense, there must be substance.

If you wish to see an entertaining and action packed film, then The Battle of Five Armies will be highly enjoyable for you. There are great epic battle scenes, and a wonderful soundtrack to go with them. If, however, you are a die-hard LOTR fan with The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the Silmarillion memorized, you will be disappointed. As potentially the last Tolkien adaptation to be seen on film, it left something to be to be desired. There is a lot to see and hear, but little substance.

The bizarre Elf-Dwarf-Elf love triangle was hardly believable. While Evangeline Lilly makes a formidable elf-warrior, Kate’s feelings for Jack in Lost were more believable than Tauriel’s feelings for Kili. And did I forget to mention that she is not a real Tolkien character? Her attempt to save Kili also seemed to cheapen the importance of his death. Personally, I thought her character was distracting and superfluous… which might have been the point.

The movie has very little dialogue, but the dialogue that is there is well done. Bilbo is still a very lovable character, and his unusual Hobbit heroics are commendable. However, I would have liked to have seen more of Thorin’s struggle with the ‘dragon sickness’… It was very short-lived and the seriousness of this mental illness and its effect on Bilbo and his fellow dwarves was understated.

My final criticism is of the battle between the nine Nazgul, Galadriel, Elrond, and Saruman. First, I am fairly certain this battle is not in the book. Second, it looked like a video game with good CGI, but CGI nonetheless. It was a bit trippy and I almost laughed a couple of times…

I am glad I saw it in the theatre, but The Battle of the Five Armies was not Peter Jackson’s best work. If only good film makers would learn that when you can only engage two senses, you have to add some substance. Good dialogue and a solid plot line make the difference between a good film and a great film, especially when it’s a book adaptation. But sadly, I think money speaks louder than words in Hollywood.

Meryl Kaleida

Meryl Kaleida

Meryl Kaleida is Production Assistant and E-book Editor at Ignatius Press. She is also a guest writer for Catholic Word Report. She graduated from Ave Maria University with a Bachelors in Theology and Literature. Meryl is a wife, gardener, singer, author, chef, artist and lover of truth. Her short story "I Couldn't Help but Notice" is available as an eBook.

Tags: film movie reviews novels to movies The Hobbit

1 Comment

  1. January 5, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    I heartily agree with Meryl’s comments on this film. The battle with the Nazgul does not take place, as far as I know, in any of Tolkien’s oeuvre. Like the female warrior elf and so much else in this trilogy, it is a Peter Jackson invention. I also started laughing during that scene with Elrond, Galadriel, and Saruman. It was nothing but fodder for the video game crowd.

    Adding stuff to literary works that didn’t need it is not the most absurd thing Jackson has done. After this last offering his hi-tech laden fantasy-superhero-franchise trilogy Jackson attacked other directors for relying too heavily on technology in superhero fanchise films (http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Wait-Peter-Jackson-Thinks-Other-Directors-Rely-Too-Much-Technology-68760.html):

    “I don’t really like the Hollywood blockbuster bandwagon that exists right now. The industry and the advent of all the technology, has kind of lost its way. It’s become very franchise driven and superhero driven.”

    Pot? Meet kettle.

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