‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ Movie Review – Going Overboard
Up to this point, Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films have, generally speaking, been criticized for being too much. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was almost all exposition and the attention to detail actually worked against the film’s effectiveness. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug had the benefit of avoiding a lot of exposition but still took its time actually letting us see Smaug. If we use The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies as a tiebreaker and the ultimate decider of whether this franchise is worthy or not, it’s still hard to justify a third film – even if the action sequences were exciting enough – if for any reason other than greed…which just so happens to be a common thread in the film itself.
The Battle of the Five Armies picks up right after The Desolation of Smaug as the recently-freed dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) reigns terror on Laketown. Right away, The Battle of the Five Armies feels significantly different than the other Hobbit films because, well, something entertaining is actually happening at the beginning of the movie.
But then we lose that entertainment.
Thus, we fall back into the ever-present Hobbit roller coaster where we’re juggling multiple storylines and characters, many of which don’t really have to do with the quintessential Hobbit, Biblo Baggins (played again by Martin Freeman).
Just like in the previous iteration, you could make an argument the story is more about Thorin (played again by Richard Armitage). In The Battle of the Five Armies, his conflict involves the greedy internal struggle he has while trying to decide on what to do with the fortune inside the Lonely Mountain.
In a way, this perfectly epitomizes my issues with the entire trilogy. By expanding the initial plans for a two-part film and going with three movies, Jackson wasn’t forced to cut the story down. And as much as I adore J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, there’s no denying things need to be cut down. Without trimming the fat, Jackson never does find a good enough blend of characters and story to get any of the Hobbit films – The Battle of the Five Armies included – anywhere near the realm of the Lord of the Rings films.
To me, it’s kind of funny how greedy the characters are when you think about the studio’s reasoning behind releasing three films instead of two. Surely they’ll say they didn’t want to cut down Jackson’s story but there’s definitely ulterior motives.
Fans of this film will undoubtedly point to the effects as one of the best parts of the movie. While I do agree Smaug and his destruction looked pretty cool, the other effects were underwhelming and, at some points, too obviously CGI’d to ignore.
With that being said, The Battle of the Five Armies does include the most endearing aspect of the franchise. It’s also nice to see the puzzle pieces come together that bridge The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings franchise. In the grand scheme of things, though, it’s not nearly enough to save the franchise as a whole.
If you are going to treat Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy as one big movie, it’s difficult to justify its pace. It was a problem from the very beginning and by the time we actually get to see Smaug and, then later, the battle for Lonely Mountain, it’s too late. That’s not to say these films are a complete and utter disaster (far from it actually), but that is to say we expected something a little more succinct. In the case of the final chapter, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, we’re again dealt a wandering narrative that could be considered just a little too much.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies released on Wednesday in traditional, IMAX, and 3D theaters. Sound off below with your comments.
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