Somehow I knew The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies wasn’t going to be good.
Oh, sure, I hoped it would be magnificent. Better than its predecessors. A real winner.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t. It was a mess. And it had none of the soul that director Peter Jackson’s previous installments in the series featured, despite its sizable length and myriad characters.
It’s a shame. I would’ve liked a greater film. But I expected this, sadly. Drawing out the last part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s book didn’t seem like a good idea to me, and the picture felt bloated, padded. It didn’t feel real.
The battle scenes had little excitement. The dialogue seemed stilted. And there was the introduction of a fight to save the wizard Gandalf that smacked of falseness, artificiality. It didn’t work.
Too bad. I wanted it to succeed. I like Jackson’s work a lot. I just didn’t like this one.
And that makes me sad. I don’t know why, but it does.
Will I see it again? Who knows. Maybe it’ll be more interesting on second viewing. I doubt it, though. The idea of that doesn’t appeal to me.
I wish it did.
Let no one accuse me of not enjoying a bit of popular moviemaking now and then.
I did just that yesterday in Times Square during a showing of Guardians of the Galaxy, the hit sci-fi spectacular from Marvel about mismatched con-creatures battling a blue warlord who wants to take over the universe or something.
Yeah, that was about what it was about.
Honestly, part of the fun was not caring what it was about. This is a light, special effects-laden romp featuring, among others, a hulking tree-beast and a trash-talking raccoon, so you know it’s going to be snarky. Yet there was a good dose of sensible humor as well, plus a tender moment toward the end that nearly transcended the picture.
I wouldn’t say it’s a classic. Some of the flashy battle scenes moved slowly and were hard to follow … not that following them would’ve made a big difference. And I did feel the flick missed a few choice opportunities to be funnier, though the aforementioned raccoon was a splendid creation. Plus, it did feel incredibly derivative. It hadn’t exactly been where no one has gone before.
Still, it was diverting, and I enjoyed most of it. Would I see it again? Not sure. It was quite imaginative, however, and that’s a plus. In this day and age, you don’t always get that in the movies.
While watching Lewis Milestone’s 1930 World War I epic All Quiet on the Western Front last night on TCM, I had a revelation.
It went like this: “Wow, this movie’s pretty good.”
In particular, those brutal battle scenes. Great, great cinematography, especially those tracking shots showing the hordes of soldiers rushing to their death across enemy lines. They really captured the idiocy of this conflict, where men would kill to obtain just a few feet of barren real estate. And there was terrific editing, too, with quick cuts between shots of machine gunners cutting down waves of doomed soldiers.
This was startling, not stirring. It wasn’t supposed to be rah-rah-rah. This was as anti-war as you can get, with a focus on the impersonal modernity of conflict and its unsympathetic mechanization. These images will be hard to forget for me.
But there were other wonders, too. A scene where the infantrymen try to console a dying man whose legs have been amputated. Sequences with men shrieking madly within their bunkers. And a part where some of the soldiers ply three French women with food, suggesting the desperation felt at this time … not only for sustenance, but also for love.
A fine film. Some of the acting was a bit stilted, yet it was beautifully done overall. Not easy to get through, though. But like any great anti-war movie, it shouldn’t be.