Figured I ought to write something here, though there’s not much news to write about. Still working on getting Bait And Switch published, and right now am waiting to hear back from a publisher. I do really want to have it out by the end of 2015, though, so here’s hoping.
That’s about all the news I have at the moment. I did see the Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (I refuse to use the extraneous “the”). I really have to say I was underwhelmed by it, as I have been the entire series.
I think the biggest flaw was attempting to stretch it into three movies, even with the additions from other Tolkien materials. However the invented subplots really just didn’t work. I could see why they might have wanted to tie it more directly into the Lord of the Rings, but the subplot of Azog’s pursuit for vengeance against Thorin dovetailing into Sauron’s preparations for his return just ended up taking time from subplots that were already in the book; for example Beorn ending up a glorified extra. I think the actual canon reason Gandalf decided to aid Thorin’s quest (to get rid of Smaug and prevent him from being a player in any future conflict against the West) was enough of a connection.
Speaking of, Smaug’s end just felt incredibly anticlimactic after all the build up in the second film. They really should have cut out the entire battle between him and the Dwarves inside the mountain, which really ended up kind of ridiculous, and instead used his death by Bard’s hand as the climax of the second film and ended it after his fall. That would have been a natural ending for the second film (especially considering they used escaping Goblin Town for this purpose at the end of the first), instead of leaving this battle feeling tacked on to the beginning of BoFA.
And of course there’s the love triangle between Kíli, Legolas, and Tauriel. I can’t think of any reason why this entire subplot was at all necessary for the film. There was no real chemistry between any of the actors, which is a shame, because Aidan Turner did provide a superb performance otherwise. I was less impressed with Evangeline Lily, while Orlando Bloom doesn’t so much act as drift mundanely from over the top acrobatic feat to over the top acrobatic feat. It could have been cut and changed almost nothing (we already had Kíli in berserker mode over Azog killing Fíli, so his death was already set up).
All in all, the best parts of BoFA, as with ALL the Hobbit films, were the parts that were actually lifted right from the page. It’s just a shame they were interspersed with so much invented fluff.
I’m kind of curious to see what the numerous “single film” fan edits are able to do with this material, as frankly, they really could have done a quite complete adaptation of the book as a single film, even including the additions from the White Council. The fact that Return of the King made over $1 billion globally despite a running time of 3.5 hours for the theatrical edition should have been sufficient proof that yes, if the movie is good, audiences WILL buy a ticket for a 3-hour film.
I do still want to see how the Extended Edition comes out, but overall, I honestly face the end of the Middle-earth film saga with a sigh of relief.