Sunday, January 4, 2015

So bad it’s good: The Hobbit - The Battle of the Five Armies

Copyright: Warner Bros. Pictures
Yes, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies movie has a lot of things in it, or should I say a LOTR of things (I had to make that pun). It has a dragon, armies one, two, three, four and five, and possibly six and seven, but this is more a question for all those Tolkien strategy masters out there.

It has magical stones, magical rings and a whole bunch of magical riding animals, starting with wolves, and going all the way to riding mountain goats, moose and even riding pigs. In the story, characters fight evil Orks while they lose their footing, and then other characters also fight other evil Orks while they also lose their footing in a slightly different manner.

The film has all these things, including never-ending battles where swords are mostly used clubs or metal planks (hey, the budget of the film was enormous, but no one can make that many engaging/not silly sword fights) but in spite of all these things, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is about one thing, and one thing only – a character named Alfrid.

In short, Alfrid is a total bastard of the backstabbing kind. He is stupid, malevolent, treacherous and self-serving to an illogical and sadly comical degree. He is present throughout the film (not counting the unending last battle sequence worthy of films like Lone Survivor) and he is completely pointless. In this character, Peter Jackson demonstrated why all this stuff with Tolkien adaptation should just stop for a while and let everyone figure out what they want out of this.

This wasn’t done for the Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies film, so we got a comical piece about people fighting on plastic rocks and much more than that, about Alfrid. He is part Grima Wormtongue, part village idiot and part plain old jackass. But Jackson was glued to him like a bad horror director to a barrel of artificial blood. With Alfrid, there is nothing to be gained: we don’t see his arrival at this horrific state of total corruption (of a comical kind), and there is no redemption or resolution.

But, we do get to see him cross-dressing at one point (this was also supposed to be comical, but is much less so than Orlando Bloom’s faces when he is shooting arrows) and then he vanishes, just like any point Jackson was trying to make with these films. Compared to him, the total failure of the character Radagast in Hobbit series is a small misdemeanor.

Of course, there are many other out of place elements which make the last Hobbit film a proud entry into the So Bad it's Good category, but like the One Ring, Alfrid can truly bind all of them and rule them in the cinematographic darkness.