There and Back Again

(Spoilers. Obviously. Probably a lot of them.)

So it’s over. Or at least it’s almost over. I am nowhere near done processing yet, but there will never be a new one of these, and, well, that’s the story. I have a lot of feelings, mostly tending towards the good, though there are still a few things I am sorting out.

One thing I don’t have to sort out, though? My favourite moment. For a movie that was basically a gigantic battle sequence, I am a little surprised that it’s a quiet moment (previously, my favourite moments have always been The Charge, but this movie didn’t really have a one), but it is, without question, the moment when Thorin talked himself out of gold sickness. Let me say that again: Thorin talked himself out of gold sickness. He did it by remembering things that people had said, of course, but he still decided not to be his grandfather, and that was AMAZING. I wasn’t a huge fan of how it was shot (I mean, Richard Armitage is a stage actor. He does not need that much slow motion and voice distortion to get his point across), and it made Kili’s big character moment hilariously redundant, but THORIN TALKED HIMSELF OUT OF GOLD SICKNESS, and it’ll probably be a while before I am over that.

The runner up is the part where Kili was basically fridged for Tauriel’s emotional development. Because that almost never happens, and if you’re going to kill him away from everyone else anyway (more on that in a moment), you might as well get real mileage out of it. Not only Tauriel, though, but Thranduil (in that Tauriel finally understands him a bit better) and Legolas as well (all grown up!). I was very impressed (and sad. Like, she saves him FOUR TIMES, but he is doooooooomed, and my feelings).

Also, I won a bet re: when Smaug would bite it, so that was nice. That scene was great, except I desperately wish that Bard’s family had got to do more stuff as Bard’s family, instead of just Bard and Bain all the time. And there was about 100% too much Asshole Lackey Dude (which, in addition to the awful cross-dressing gag and the general uncomfortableness of all his scenes, he single-handedly prevented this movie from passing the Bechtel test. TYPICAL DUDE BRO. UGH).

I can’t even be RATIONAL about the Dol Guldur scenes. In a movie with a bunch of great fight scenes, it’s pretty fantastic that the youngest person in the best one was Hugo Weaving. But really: Galadriel. HOLY GOD. That was amazing and I am very happy about it and RING BEARERS FOR THE WIN.

Tauriel, my heart, was amazing. I loved how she was fucking terrified of everything, and let none of that stop her. I loved that she worked her way up to standing up to Thranduil. I loved her peace with Legolas and the resolution of her affection for Kili. And I also really loved her final conversation with Thranduil, where she finally gets what he was trying to prevent her from experiencing, even though they are fucking elves, so it’s always going to be an issue.

Legolas had both the best and dumbest stunts, as per usual, but I really love watching him fight so I totally don’t care. I loved where his story ended up (even though Aragorn is a whopping 10 years old at this point, though the movie timeline has always been a little screwy, so WHO KNOWS?).

I liked Dain a lot more than I expected to, given that he just kind of showed up (ON A WAR PIG), and mouthed off a lot. He didn’t get a pile of development, but I could easily imagine him as the King who will go toe to toe with a FUCKING NAZGUL in a few decades, and then die at the ripe old age of SUPER OLD, defending his kingdom one last time.

And…the dwarves. Whom I have saved for last because…well, it’s complicated.

I almost want to withhold judgement until I see the full extended version. Because there is one really odd moment when Dwalin disappears, and I am pretty sure that’s where Balin comes with the ice sledge thingy (you can see it behind them when they charge, and it’s in the trailer). It was weird because none of the dwarves saw Thorin die. I expected a loud, sad, blatantly manipulative scene…and then I realized what I was expecting was basically something we’d already seen (ie. Théoden, Éomer and Éowyn on the Pelennor), so I was kind of glad that Jackson chose to go another direction with it.

Let’s start with Fili. Lord, I may never recover. When Gandalf was all “He’s taking his best warriors with him!” I was all “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” and then they split the fuck up, and I was all “NO THAT IS A TERRIBLE IDEA.”, and then Fili, Just. I can’t. It was awful. As it SHOULD be.

Kili’s death was a little different, as I started to get into above, because it was for Tauriel, not Thorin. Again, a totally unexpected choice, but one that I think worked in a lot of ways because 1. Dudes don’t often die for Ladies to Grow As People, and 2. if you’re going to bypass the whole “defending him with shield and body” thing for ONE of the brothers, it only makes sense to do it for the other one as well.

(I think what was the hardest about Fili and Kili’s death scenes was that in any other movie, there would have been a Dramatic Rescue, and we, as consumers, have been more or less trained to expect that. So it was WEIRD and AWFUL and REALLY GOOD, but also a little more brain than heart, which I was only barely capable of by that point in the film.)

And then there was Thorin. His fight sequence with Azog was really well choreographed and planned, but having it take place with zero witnesses was the strangest choice in the entire film. I totally get why (and it was supported in the movie dialogue which I appreciate a lot), but it also made it REALLY HARD for me to connect to it. Again, I think the movie was its own worst enemy here, because we have seen this happen a lot (most memorably, for me, is when Legolas sees Aragorn go down under the troll and pushes his way through the crowd to get to him, but it happens to Éomer and Éowyn too). I wish there had been some reaction, though, from a dwarf. I assume in that in the cut scenes, will see Balin and Dwalin (at the least) being unable to get to him. I’m going to have to watch it more times, I think, but I expected a lot of screaming and very loud mourning, and not getting it IN THE SLIGHTEST is leaving me kind of…cold about the whole sequence.

(I’m allowing it because that’s EXACTLY how it plays out in the book in terms of emotional fallout. Bilbo is knocked unconscious, and then when Thorin dies he has a quiet cry, but we also hear about how Beorn showed up and killed Bolg, and prevented Thorin’s head from being cut off, just at the last minute. Not seeing that, really, not seeing Beorn really do anything AT ALL was the only part of the movie in which I was truly disappointed.)

Here’s to a longer movie with MORE DWARF FEELINGS, because at this point, that’s what I feel was truly missing from this. I loved the feelings we DID get, but I was hoping for more. I didn’t cry, I didn’t even come CLOSE, and that really tells you all you need to know, because if there was ever a person who was going to lose her shit at this movie, it’s me.

ANYWAY: I am ending up with Bilbo, because: Hobbits.

I am not a huge Martin Freeman fan, but I cannot deny that he was excellent in this. I loved seeing Bilbo at every extreme in this movie. All of his scenes were great (OH GOD, THE ARKENSTONE!), and even though the part where Thorin threatened to kill him didn’t quite live up to my hopes for it, I was still very impressed by the entire “thief in the night” sequence (except the part where Thranduil ordered his archers to shoot anything that moved and then they DIDN’T SEE BILBO even though he wasn’t wearing the Ring). I liked the bit with the acorn and having the contract during the auction and the conversation with Gandalf and then, of course, the bookend with Ian Holm.

So overall, I enjoyed it a lot. The pacing was great (which was my biggest worry going in), and it remains visually striking and beautifully made (I can’t wait to see the HFR, because I know it will be so much better that way). I somehow managed to get almost exactly what I wanted from a movie that was nothing at all like what I was expecting, and I think that is pretty neat. It’s over, but it is over well.

I can’t wait to watch it again.

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