Tag Archives: J. R. R. Tolkien

Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

hobbit_the_battle_of_the_five_armies_FNL_poster

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie that is more appropriately named than The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. The third installment of The Hobbit film franchise certainly beats out its most recent predecessor and is at least equal to the first film in many respects. While still suffering from some of the flaws that hurt The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Battle of Five Armies manages to bring about a satisfactory ending to the trilogy.

The Battle of Five Armies picks up almost immediately where Desolation of Smaug leaves off. I was fairly relieved that we didn’t have to bother sitting through a history lesson at the beginning of the movie and instead jumped right into the action. I do not have an issue with the historical stuff that has been added to the movie, but it would have otherwise made the beginning rather slow. Instead the movie was off to a running start before jumping into the added material.

In general I have to say the death of Smaug was well done. As with the rest of the movie, certain creative liberties were taken, especially when it comes to dialogue, but I can live with that. The exchange between Smaug and Bard just before Bard kills Smaug is fairly standard villain monologue-ing and, while not particularly interesting, it didn’t detract from the movie. I would like to ask why the windlass wasn’t used. We saw one in Desolation of Smaug, but what the hell happened to it? If they didn’t intend to use it later in the movie, why did they show it in the first place?

One of the things that most helped The Battle of Five Armies is the fact that in many places J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is rather light on details. Most of the battle itself takes place while Bilbo is knocked unconscious. This allows for the movie to show all kinds of things happening in the battle without running the risk of not following canon, which is what tends to anger fans most. With this kind of freedom, I have to admit, it was one impressive battle. In fact, I would have to estimate that the battle took up an hour of the movie, at least. Pretty much everything I had wanted and expected was present. There were armies of men, dwarves, elves and orcs all slugging it out on the open plains in front of the mountain and on the streets of Dale. Each of the armies seemed to take turns holding the upper hand and on more than one occasion I found myself wondering how the heroes would wind up turning the tide. Of course, since I’ve read the book, the end result was never in doubt for me, which is slightly disappointing, though I have always been one who is more interested in how a story gets where it is going than where it is going in the first place.

For the most part, the acting was on par with the previous movies. Martin Freeman does a great job as Bilbo Baggins. Freeman gives the audience some really great moments from the heart, and his Bilbo is always trying to do the right thing, even when it is extremely difficult. It is nearly impossible to find fault with Ian McKellen’s portrayal of Gandalf; the man was simply born to play that role. He is thoroughly capable of being both serious and humorous and of moving between the two rapidly as the situation requires. My favorite new addition was that of Billy Connolly as Dain, Thorin’s cousin and leader of the dwarf army. He was both tough and sassy, especially when speaking to the elven king. I had very high hopes for the dwarf army and Connolly basically filled them all. As for the rest of the cast, many of the other actors gave solid performances, though none were particularly stand out.

Gandalf and Dain

Gandalf and Dain

As far as complaints go, I really only had a couple. The first of those is the carryover from Desolation of Smaug. All of the extra crap that was added to the second movie to make it its own film had to be resolved at the end of Battle of Five Armies. Once again it felt forced and didn’t really fit with the rest of the story. Thankfully, it was done pretty quickly, so the audience didn’t have to suffer through more than twenty minutes of it. These scenes also gave rise to what was probably the worst performance in the film: that of Lee Pace as Thranduil, the elven king. Pace’s character was consistently wooden and detached and brought down the quality of any scene he was in. There was also a vacant look in his eyes that was more than a little unsettling. My final complaint was the completely abandonment of the laws of physics during one particular portion of the battle. While I am more than willing to set aside some things for the sake of a good story, this got to the point of being completely unbelievable. At one point Legolas was running up stones, like they were stairs, as they were falling down the face of a frozen waterfall. Elf or not, this just simply doesn’t work.

Overall, The Battle of Five Armies was pretty much what I expected it to be. While an improvement over the previous film, it still failed to live up to the standards set by Lord of the Rings. While maybe not to the point of waiting for Netflix or Redbox, nobody should feel the urge to drop what they’re doing and immediately go see this movie. 3.5/5 Death Stars

3.5 Death Stars

4 Comments

Filed under Andrew Hales, Movie Reviews, Movies

Editorial | Norse Mythology in Popular Culture

Chances are, any purveyor of contemporary pop culture is steeped in Norse mythology—perhaps without even realizing it.  Of course, there are some media that directly reference Norse mythology, such as Marvel’s Avenger, Thor, his brother Loki, and their father Odin.  In some parts of geek culture, however, the references are far more subtle.avengers,eidolon,fanart,loki,thor-fbc4072ef25557e562027b6efca5cb0c_h Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Editorial, Tracy Gronewold

Random Thought Generator Episode 5, Origin Stories

In which Andrew and Tracy discuss their favorite origin stories, and what makes a good origin story.  Origin stories aren’t limited to comic books, and we’ve got some good ones to talk about.  Also, there is some random bantering back and forth.  Tracy accidentally spoils Game of Thrones Season 4, and Andrew promises to edit it out.  We wrap up by telling Therefore I Geek’s own origin story, in celebration of our first anniversary.????????????

Podcast Links:

Amazing Spider-Man

All-Star Superman

Man of Steel

Superman

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

The Magician’s Nephew

The One Ring

The World of Ice and Fire

The Silmarillion

Uncanny X-Men 12 and 13

Redwall

Martin the Warrior

Cloud Strife

Most Hours Spent on a Game

Joker’s Scars Scene 1

Joker’s Scars Scene 2

Words of Radiance

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story

Thor: God of Thunder

Uncanny X-Force

Foundation and Empire

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Podcast

Editorial | Geek Subculture: parallels in the paranormal

In sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies, a subculture is a group of people with a culture (whether distinct or hidden) which differentiates them from the larger culture to which they belong, for example, if a particular subculture is characterized by a systematic opposition to the dominant culture, it may be described as a counterculture.  Geeks are a fantastic example of a subculture, because we have all of the earmarks of a full sized culture.  Observe.

And on the third day of the week…

Geeks have our own religions and our own denominations.  Do you doubt me?  Our day of worship is Wednesday, “New Comic Book Day,” a day in which we travel to our local comic book store to hear the latest good word.  If Star Trek is a religion—and fans definitely make it sound like one—then it is one with five denominations, Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise, each with their own followers.  We also have the religion of fantasy (books and other media), with followers of the prophets J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Robert Jordan, G. R. R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, etc.  Fortunately, since there are so many religions in the subculture, geek religions are not exclusive.  These gods are not jealous gods.  A geek can subscribe to as many as he wants!  We are quite tolerant that way.

While the larger American culture loves its football and baseball, and embraces foreign sports such as rugby and soccer, geeks prefer sports on a screen.  I never believed that video gaming could work up a sweat until I recently played my very first console game, Assassin’s Creed II.  Solo gaming isn’t the only geek sport, however.  In fact, there is an entire world of competitive gaming that involves teams and even leagues.  There are even documentaries, like King of Kong,  and not-quite-TVshows about it, such as Felicia Day’s ever popular The Guild.

The guy on the left is actually jealous that Will is not holding him instead.

Geeks have our own set of celebrities too.  Some of these, such as Nathan Fillion and Will Wheaton, are famous in real culture for the roles they have played on TV and in movies, but geeks love them for another reason—they are geeks themselves, and they are not afraid to show it.  J. K. Rowling has become a celebrity outside of her status as an author by interacting with her fans and even cautiously validating fan fiction based on her work.  Of course, my favorite geek celebrity, Joss Whedon, has nearly transcended celebrity status to become a god.  I am not sure if this is simply because of his winning personality, or because he likes to emotionally traumatize his fans by destroying some of their most beloved characters on a whim.

I think that it pretty much goes without saying that geeks have their own movies.  This seems to have bled into the surrounding population culture, however, because the last time I was in the theater to see a truly geeky movie, I could barely find a seat!  Still, movies like The Hobbit et al or any comic book movie ever are filmed for and targeted at geeks first and foremost.

Perhaps the most amusing aspect of the geek subculture, however, is that we have our own brand of shitty television shows.  In fact, we have TV shows that fit into every single television category.  Think about it.  We have paranormal soap operas, such as True Blood, and my own guilty pleasure, Supernatural.  The story telling in these shows is atrocious, and viewers primarily watch for the pretty people in bizarre situations.  There are geek sitcoms too, the short-lived Better Off Ted, and the long-running Big Bang Theory are classic examples of these (just without that annoying laugh track).

I like these guys, they're just so... pretty.

I like these guys, they’re just so… pretty.

Of course, TV execs have also given the geek subculture some shows that are flagrant pandering.  The more annoying of these is Arrow.  While I’ve only heard good reviews from friends about this show, I find the dialogue to be stilted and the acting to be wooden.  Another TV show that has to be classified here is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  I have high hopes for this show’s future—especially give that it is a Joss Whedon show (see above)—but for now, it just seems to be a show that expects viewers and ratings based on its theme, rather than its content.

Don’t get me wrong, geek subculture has excellent TV shows as well.  In the 90’s there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in the late 2000’s there was Dollhouse, and right now there is Continuum, which continues to hold my interest.  HBO gives us the exciting TV dramatization of GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire, and Netflix toys with the idea of returning our beloved Firefly (please, let Castle end soon!!).  There is plenty to see on current weekly episodes and available to binge-watch on Netflix.

Perhaps the most amusing geek TV is a relative newcomer:  the geek reality show.  It makes me laugh to see shows such as King of the Nerds (now in season three), and Heroes of Cosplay on TV.  Who knew that one day a geek would be given a confession box moment?

So the subculture has religion, with all its trappings, sports, and entertainment of all sorts.  Geek culture is definitely a vibrant and fulfilling subculture with aspects to appeal to any geek.  Are there any parallels to population culture that I’ve missed?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or @thereforeigeek.

6 Comments

Filed under Editorial, Geek Life, Tracy Gronewold