The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies Review (It’s Over! Edition)

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Ain't no party like a Middle Earth party

What’s it about

Surely you’ve heard of the previous two movies in the Hobbit series, An Unexpected Journey and Desolation of Smaug. The dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and Bilbo (Martin Freeman) were on the verge of reclaiming back Erebror but have instead set loose the dragon Smaug upon Laketown. (obvious hint alert: someone takes down Smaug.) When the news that the Smaug has fallen spreads throughout Middle-Earth. Various factions all come forth to stake a claim on Erebor’s notoriously rich stash of treasures. The elves have some treasure they want. The humans of Laketown are pissed that Thorin isn’t honouring the prior agreement to provide some treasure in return for their aid in getting the dwarves to Erebor. The orcs are marching in on Erebor too and they look pissed. (Although you can’t really not look pissed if you’re an orc.) And all this time, Gandalf has been imprisoned by Sauron. Hey, fun times for Middle-Earth!

The Awesome

Finality: If you’ve already seen the prior two… then you kinda have to see this right? Bring some closure to all that walking they’ve done, you know?

Dwarf on Elf on Human on Orc Smackdown!: Peter Jackson can do fantasy action scenes. Perhaps maybe too well. That being said, the battle scenes with the armies all clashing is pretty darn epic. As is the throwdown with Smaug to start the film, however brief that may be.

Woah, a short Peter Jackson movie?: At 144 minutes, The Battle of The Five Armies is the shortest Hobbit movie. The other two both clocked in above 160 minutes. Hooray for brevity! (Not really, 144 minutes is still kinda long for a movie. It’s just short in Peter Jackson’s world.)

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Not So Sure About That…

Too Much Of A Good Thing: The action scenes are good, well directed and they also seem to go on forever. They do become tired after a while because you simply don’t care who’s stabbing who after a while. Why you ask?

So. Much. Bloat: The Hobbit movies were intended to be a two-parter. Even then, fans were concerned with how much the story would have to be expanded upon in order to last the length of two movies. When it was announced that the series would eventually become a trilogy, fans’ fears of a bloat-filled trilogy became much more vocal. And it seems they were right. As is the case with the previous two movies, the plot shifts around constantly. While the focus should be on the dwarves and their journey, the movie frequently jumps to other aspects of the plot, juggling the duties of the actual story involving Bilbo and the dwarves with tying this series of movies with the Sauron storyline in the Lord of The Rings movies. And I haven’t even mentioned Bard the Bowman’s story, the Legolas/Tauriel/Kili love triangle and so on.

While side stories are pretty common in various forms of storytelling, their purpose should be to complement a main story, and not to distract from it. You can show me a thousand awesome shots of Gandalf, Saruman and Elrond fighting the Nazgul but does it ultimately matter?


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Diminished: Going on from the previous point… no, all the other stuff ultimately detracts from the overall satisfaction of the movie. To illustrate my point, there’s a scene near the end between Bilbo and Thorin. I could feel that this was supposed to be a big emotional moment between the two of them. However, it’s hard to really care for any of it when you’re not emotionally invested in them. The characters’ progression have been so stretched out over the three movies… Thorin has flipped so frequently between fierce and loyal warrior to an a-hole over the trilogy, while Bilbo doesn’t really have anything to do in this one and we already knew he could overcome his own nature to become brave in the first two. The side characters have even less screen time to build anything with the viewer. Basically, everything that was important in the movie has been so watered down by the shoehorning of these additional elements that when it was finally time for the actual pay off, it led to quite an unsatisfying experience.

Verdict: 3/5

The Battle of The Five Armies, and The Hobbit trilogy as a whole, can be best described as a slightly awkward, somewhat plodding experience that’s littered with good vibes carried over from our fond memories of The Lord of The Rings movies. It’s never downright abominable but they don’t ever seem satisfying either. This film in particular, despite being the conclusion to the trilogy, seems to suffer even more. While An Unexpected Journey seem to have somewhat of a whimsical adventure feel to it and The Desolation of Smaug had an eerie foreboding all over the movie, The Battle Of The Five Armies does not seem to have much of a point to it, except that it’s the end. And many people will, of course. Collectively, they’ve all struggled to match the LOTR movies in terms of memorable moments. Where are the “one does not simply walk into Mordor” or “You shall not pass!” type moments? There was a pretty good LOTR game released this year. It was called Shadow of Mordor. Perhaps  that would have been a more appropriate name for the trilogy, given that it’s had the shadow of the previous trio of films hanging over it the entire time.

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To watch or not to watch…

Definitely Watch If…

Avoid This If…

  • You liked the LOTR movies.
  • You liked the books, can’t stand what Peter Jackson has done.
  • You like fantasy genre films.
  • You hate magic, elves and dwarves. (And so on.)
  • You’re into cringeworhty dialogue.
  • You don’t appreciate cringeworthy dialogue.

 

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