Jackson on the Problem with “The Battle of the Five Armies”

Let us be real a second, for just a millisecond. By the time The Hobbit trilogy was over, everyone knew it had been a mistake. A George Lucas Star Wars prequels sized mistake. In trying to return to Middle Earth, Jackson had not only learned that he cannot go home again, but in many ways, detracted from his original set of movies in the process.

There’s one major difference though, between the Star Wars prequels and the The Hobbit trilogy. George Lucas has never admitted that he made a mistake. He’s never admitted that he all but killed his own franchise, and that if it weren’t for Disney, Star Wars would be something that got left in the 20th century when we moved on. Jackson, on the other hand, perhaps knowing that there is no Disney that will come along and revive the world he loved so much, has faced the reality of what he’s done. In a surprising six-minute “behind the scenes” segment from the DVD release, Jackson sits down with the camera and point-blank explains how it went wrong and why.

One of the major issues that made the difference between LOTR and the Hobbit is the lack of years of preproduction that went to the former, and never happened for the latter.

“If I was a director who hadn’t had that 25 years of experience doing this in the past, it would’ve been almost impossible. I spent so much of The Hobbit feeling like I was not on top of it. The fact that I hadn’t much prep and I was making it up as I went along … that was a very high-pressure situation.”

Watching this behind the scenes documentary is probably more dramatic and tragic than the entire trilogy. While one wishes Jackson had cut back, since he couldn’t get on top of it, the reason he couldn’t was because he simply couldn’t make the train stop long enough ton put the thoughts together to stop it. When the scripts don’t even exist, you can’t realize they’re bloated and terrible, because there’s no one to see them.

This runway train effect came to a head at the muddled Battle of the Five Armies that sat at the heart of final movie, which wound up being delayed by nearly a year before they filmed it. One wishes they could have done that for the whole production. “There’s no answer for it,” says Jackson. And there’s no going back and fixing it either.

 

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