We finally reach the last instalment of Peter Jackson’s one-book-but-three-movies adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, titled The Battle of the Five Armies, which pretty much sums up the synopsis of this one, but in case anyone needs slightly more detail: after Bilbo and the dwarves get Smaug the dragon out of the Lonely Mountain, and he destroys Lake Town, five armies (dwarfs, men, elves, orcs, and eagles?) battle it out for what lies under the mountain – tonnes and tonnes of treasure.
I’m sure Peter Jackson would argue quite differently, but I still see no justification for dragging out a short novel into close to six hours of film. There is of course a fair bit added by Jackson himself, which is completely unnecessary to tell the same story that Tolkien did in his book. Readers haven’t spent decades feeling like something was missing, so why Peter Jackson felt like he needed to “complete” story will always be beyond me. The Legolas and Tauriel scenes add nothing, nor does the elf/dwarf Tauriel-Kili love story. Gandalf almost dying adds nothing, except the non-existent suspense of if he will be alive in the films that follow, made 10 years earlier. The entire Hobbit trilogy is too fluffed up, and the storytelling suffers because of it.
It is quite obvious how much time and effort is spent on the visual aspect of the film, as it is very impressive. But the reliance upon CGI over special effects is also fairly obvious. The battle, which the film is named after, does look great, and does start off quite exciting, but slips into the realms of silliness, and then just absurd. I won’t spoil the battles scenes, but certain moments expect the audience to suspend their disbelief a touch too far, and none of them have the lighter mood of, say, the barrel scene from The Desolation of Smaug to carry it off. There are moments where it is just good luck that saves the characters, and I find that quite irritating. Surely the fight choreographers could have come up with something slightly smarter.
At this point in a review, I would normally comment on performances of particular actors, however I do not see much point in it with this film. No one gets much of a chance to make an impression as too much is going on, and there is evidently more focus on the visual aspects than the storytelling or the characters. I’m not actually sure if I knew which of the five armies I should be supporting. Like Bilbo, I just wanted to get back to the Shire so the thing could end.
I feel like it’s important for me to say I’m not a big fan of the entire Middle Earth franchise. I did not enjoy the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and while I enjoyed the novel of The Hobbit and found parts of The Desolation of Smaug entertaining, I haven’t been too fond of these films either. I have no problem with the fantasy genre, or Tolkien’s books in general, but these stories have nothing in them that I can find to connect with, passed the point of being mildly entertained, and The Battle of the Five Armies is no different. It wouldn’t surprise me, however, to find that fans of the other films are also less thrilled by this disappointing final film.
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