REVIEW — “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” (Trailer below the review) is the ‘epic’ conclusion to the three part “The Hobbit” trilogy. The fact that this became a trilogy is quite possibly the biggest weakness with this entry to the saga, as it feels like it’s over an hour too long, and offers nothing unique or nostalgic to bask in. Basically, what we get is more of the same. From the start, which is really “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”‘s ending, we suffer through disappointment after disappointment, mixed with spotty visual effects and terrible plot points, and are left with a gorgeous song from Billy Boyd (included below) that carries a lot less meaning.
The film starts right where the last one ends, but that’s not a good thing. We’ve waited a year now for the ending we should have gotten already, so the first 10 minutes of this entry feels like a rip-off only meant to get butts into the seats. We watch Smaug lay waste to Lake Town, but there are zero human characters to care for, and they never really show Tauriel, or the Dwarves, in any kind of peril to raise suspense (they just kind of float around and do nothing). Throughout the bloated run-time we are forced to suffer through dragged out moments of self-discovery that contribute nothing to the characters or the plot, a forced love story that never existed in the source material (and was contractually meant to not be happening), and an overabundance of CGI landscape, which just doesn’t make sense since they filmed in one of the most gorgeous places in the world.
The action sequences are cool enough. I’m a huge fan of fantasy violence so watching Dwarves riding mysteriously appearing Rams into battle, a heavily CGI’d Billy Connolly swinging a huge hammer while riding a War Pig, a giant Dragon wrecking stuff, and tons of Orc on Human on Elf violence really excited me. However, some of the CGI used in the battle scenes was worse than anything we saw in the original trilogy, which was disappointing to say the least. There was also an over abundance of action clichés…which doesn’t make sense for a fantasy film (MAKE SOMETHING UP!). Not to mention so much happens in the finale fight scenes, and none of it is fleshed out or explained. For example, several characters show up to help our team, they are shown entering the fray, and then are never seen/mentioned/heard of again. Also, some other characters die, but you never really care and very little is done to make those deaths meaningful.
The script was possibly the weakest part of the whole thing as they took a short kids book, and stretched it into a 3-part dark fantasy series, and it just doesn’t work. In order to make up the run time, and justify budget costs, they had to add in unnecessary dialogue, quiet moments, reflection, pensive stares, and not-to-subtle references to certain events that would take place in the original trilogy. One addition I did approve of was the scene involving Lady Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Sarumon (Christopher Lee) and Lord Elrond (Hugo Weaving). THAT was a truly bad-ass scene that gave us something new and exciting, but moments like that were few and far between. At least all the cast gave it their all, and no one phoned in their performances. Special shout out to Luke Evans (Bard), who doesn’t get enough credit as a leading actor.
As a whole “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” lacks most of what made the films in the first trilogy so special. With its bloated run time, wasted characters and plot points, useless love stories and awful use of CGI for landscape shots (seriously…you’re in New Zealand!) this turned out to be what everyone thought it would be: a tiny story stretched so thin it loses its magic. I really enjoyed the cast, and I think they all played their roles well, but aside from a few excellent moments this movie offers nothing new or original (with exception to the bad-ass rescue scene involving several Wizards), and will disappoint fans of the original trilogy and the source material. Side Note: I really wish they had taken some of this bloated run time to instead help fill in the gaps between “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.” Instead we get a big budget fantasy flick that lacks heart/emotion, and relies too much on the patience of fans. 2.5/5