This movie suffers from the “We have to make this one biggerer and badderer than the last ones!” disease and has the net result of being kind of stupiderer. For every cool battle scene there were five that were plain dumb (mostly involving Legolas). Suspension of disbelief is one thing but we all know how gravity works so the more you warp that the less real the scenes look and feel. You can’t stick two broken ends of a bow into a log and use it to launch a ballistae bolt. You can’t run up falling rocks or launch yourself through ice 10 feet in the air. The coolest things about the LOTR battle scenes is they were epic without being ridiculous. This film lost all that. It also had a lot of the action smothered under the PG-13 rating like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s next but that is to be expected. Heaven forbid we make this film less accessible to the kiddywinks or require parents to make an active determination what entertainment is appropriate for their kids.
They need to be bigger hit the visuals as well. The first series had 12 foot trolls and you know what would be cooler than that? 30 foot trolls! Oliphants? Pshaw. We have giant Graboids (nerd cred if you know where that came from. No Googling). We definitely need to have another city under siege just like Gondor so look out Dale! Remember that desperate battle between Éowyn and the Witch King? Now we have an even more desperate battle between Thorin and Azog. You can almost see the storyboard artists desperately trying to think of ways to insert things from the LOTR but more epic like a kid trying to improve a classic music t shirt with a Bedazzler.
Cute, fun, and visually striking.
But at the end not a lot of sticking power. When I see a film and the next day have to strain to remember what I saw that speaks of a middlin’ movie. This film was not bad and the art style and animation were stunning. It does pass my Wreck It Ralph test, which is where at the end of the film I ask am I happier having seen this film then I would have been staying home watching WIR for the umpteenth billionth time and the answer is yes. However the next day after seeing Ralph I was aglow with memories and striking scenes where this one kind of got flushed out of my memory like a functional hands free toilet.
But like I said this film is really fun and has a strong cross cultural element that is missing in a lot of American media. If you want to expose your children to something other than white America and Hip Hop this would be a (very small) step in that direction. The story is good and all the characters memorable (as long as you are OK remembering either of the duel sword wielding heroes as one character). An artistic triumph really.
However veteran readers of my blog will know it is rare that I walk out of a film without at least one annoyance nibbling at my jock strap and in this case it’s the music. You see, in a story about Dios De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and set in the heart of Mexico you would imagine they might either pull some great Mexican cultural music or at least written some new music with some Latin flair and that is exactly what they did, as long as by “Latin flair” you really mean having the Mexican musician play Creep by Radiohead. Why not just have them do a cover of Bugz on my Nugz by Insane Clown Posse (Hatchetman image courtesy of the music t shirt category)? It’s effectively the same. I’m not looking for accordions here but the contrast was startling and really took me out of the theater. Maybe a little Spanish guitar?