Thursday, December 18, 2014
"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies": the Tolkien prequel gives us warrior values in a parallel "Middle Ages" world
Having been engrossed in New Line’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy last decade (the last film is literally a 195-minute cliff hanger – “The Ring is mine”), following a prequel series (even from Peter Jackson) leaves me a bit ho-hum, and I believe Tolkien’s original novel “The Hobbit” is blown up for financial gain. The details of the plot don’t seem to matter too much. But the action and settings are spectacular, most of all in this third installment, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.”
Nevertheless, this is the story of how Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) went on the lam for a few years and helped save Middle Earth from a whole set of villains. At the end, he returns home to the middle of his own estate sale. I wonder how much his little hobbit-home with the circular archways sells for.
Middle Earth is, after all, rather like an Earth-2, maybe in a parallel universe, or maybe a few hundred light years away. The civilization looks like the Middle Ages here, but with the people more genetically varied, and hence we have hobbits, and monsters.
The movie starts with the sacking of Lake-Town (by Smaug and company). Refugees are driven to the walled, gated cities in the mountains. Remember how Late-Town looked like an Elizabethean village. It still does, or did, until it burned.
People in this culture can live only communally. They have to stick together and depend on one another. Men are expected to fight to protect women and children. Several times in the movie there is a scream like “women and children only”. One warrior (I think Thorin, Richard Armitage) says he will come from behind the fortress walls and fight like a man. There’s fake transsexual character, Alfrid (Ryan Gage) who seems to be gender-bending to get out of fighting (his slip shows, he wears falsies, and his chest is hairless).
Even the monsters sacrifice themselves, throwing their behemoth bodies against fortress walls to knock them down, before dropping dead.
Official blog is here. Warner Brothers distributes a joint production of New Line and MGM.
I saw this in 3-D and extended digital at Regal Ballston before a small audience. It seemed like a “patriotic duty”.