On (Not) Keeping the Faith in Five Armies

via FanPop

via FanPop

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies was not great. It was fun, but it was not great. I enjoyed the film, but not that much. It even brought me to serious emotional responses, but left me ultimately unmoved. There are parts of the film that are excellent, like Thorin’s magical mystery tour on a gold-plated ice rink, courtesy of dragon sickness, or the stellar work of the Committee to Evict All Servants of Morgoth. Other parts are middling to good, like the combat sequences, or anything with Lee Pace’s eyebrows. Other parts just suck.

Stephen Fry is funny, but a waste of my time and yours. Tauriel-Kili-Legolas is also a waste of time. My goal here, however, is not to review the film; this has already been done, and ably so. In the wake of the film, I have been subject to so many opinions on it, many of which take the form of “It was obvious that Tauriel’s presence in the films was going to detract from the plot/message/cohesiveness/whatever, she’s not in the books.” This notion is one of my biggest pet peeves about how people consume art: the predilection to judge a work of art as a reflection of its source material.

It supports the quintessential comment for a stodgy fan of any book or comic that has been made into a movie. “Well, in the comics, Earth-1610 Steve Rogers would never have allowed that.” “Peter Dinklage is a good actor, but his casting was a mistake because he’s far too handsome and the Imp of the books is supposed to be repulsive.” Et cetera, et cetera. These are perhaps legitimate complaints, but I’d like to make a bold suggestion: we evaluate each work of art as its own work. Not that any piece of artwork should be above comparison—art being subjective, this is impossible—or that it somehow robs one work to be mentioned in the same breath as its source, but simply that there are better methods to go about determining the quality of art than fidelity. A work’s ability to keep faith with another is a sign only of mastery in reproduction, nothing else.

I can think of several arenas in which this talent is valuable, art restoration being one. Anaplastology, the branch of medicine dealing with prosthetics, is another, but even there, some of the most interesting work does not simply recreate a limb, but makes an artistic transformation. Perhaps that is to the point. The best recreations and derivative works are actually transformative of their source material, acknowledging that sameness is impossible and making intentional changes to a given effect. The Battle of Five Armies actually presents some great object lessons in this, despite the film’s many frustrations.

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Do These 3D Glasses Hide My Tears? The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Review

Welp, the last Hobbit movie has finally come out. Before we go any further, let’s pour one out for the franchise—this is the last time (barring a Peter Jackson Silmarillion adaptation—fingers crossed) that we’ll be able to see a new Lord of the Rings movie in theaters. I didn’t have high hopes for the final installation in the series, since the first two were a little bit too long for my tastes. So I don’t know if it was a result of my low expectations or what, but I was surprised to find I actually enjoyed Battle of the Five Armies.

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review

hobbit_desolation_of_smaug_posterJust like last year, I went to the Hobbit movie’s midnight premiere. Unlike last year, I didn’t stay up after getting home from the movie to write a review. I know, I know: get my head in the game. Our readers are dying to know what I thought! Well, wait no longer, as my opinions can be found, along with plenty of spoilers, right below this handy-dandy jump.

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Fanfiction Fridays: They Say of Elves

I’ve always felt really weird about Lord of the Rings fanfiction, because LotR characters seem like such pretty, untouchable alabaster figures and I found it hard to imagine any of them doing anything as mundane and gritty as Having The Sex. But here’s the thing. A dirty secret, if you will. I have always, deep down, ever since reading about Legolas and Gimli’s legendary, paradigm-bending friendship, shipped the two of them juuuuust a leetle.

legolas_and_gimliI never sought out fanfic about them, but, like, eventually I had to get rid of the weird pedestal I was putting LotR on and realize that it was possible for fanfic to both do justice to Tolkien’s characters and still involve slash ships. I mean, come on. Their bond was so profound (yeah, I went there, suck it Destiel) that Gimli was the only dwarf in the history of Middle Earth to be allowed to enter the Undying Lands. Because Legolas wouldn’t go without him. If this was Star Trek, we’d call them t’hy’la, but hell if I know the Quenya equivalent of that. Anyway. I still can’t read a LotR fic if it’s not written in very Tolkienesque language, but, heyo, shocker: there are plenty of them out there that are both plenty shippy and very well written.

They Say of Elves by brancher is one excellent example of this, and one of my favorites of the Legolas/Gimli fics I’ve found. It’s a short, tightly written fic set midway through the events of The Lord of the Rings. Gimli finds himself growing overfond of Legolas, but fears making any overtures, as elves are rumored to be capricious bedfellows, masters of yarinige, not interested in commitment—while dwarves mate for life. The tension builds exquisitely as the two continue traveling and Gimli internally laments that he is caught between a rock and a hard place: either he sleeps with Legolas and has one moment of happiness before the elf casts him aside, or he remains chaste forever. The dialogue is fresh and both the characters’ speech and Gimli’s inner monologue still carry that Tolkienesque spark I crave, while also satisfying my desire for romance between this wonderful pair.

Check out brancher’s fab story here.