The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Review
The Battle of the Five Armies Review
An Unnecessary Journey..
The Battle of the Five Armies marks the culmination of director Peter Jackson’s trilogy of The Hobbit. The film not only concludes the story of Bilbo Baggins and the Company of dwarves but also attempts to bridge the gap and connect the two trilogies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately, The Battle of the Five Armies lacks enough consistently entertaining material to feel worthwhile or necessary.
The plot revolves around Bilbo and his dwarven companions who have taken back Erebor from Smaug the dragon and claimed the mountain and the treasure within. Thorin has become obsessed with the Arkenstone and his treasure much to the detriment of those around him and in particular Laketown. Meanwhile, dark forces are at work in Middle Earth as Sauron sends his armies to claim the Lonely Mountain as his own leading to a clash of men, dwarves, elves and orcs in a battle for Erebor and its treasures.
The film kicks off with an impressive sequence as Smaug the dragon reigns fire and death upon Laketown. With the majority of the dwarves at Erebor it is up to Bard (Luke Evans) and his son to defeat the dragon. The scenes showing the destruction of Laketown are impressive if relatively short-lived and Bard as a character certainly comes into his own in this film. As always, Bilbo is the heart of this trilogy and his generous and kind nature stand in stark contrast to Thorin’s child-like behaviour at the beginning of this film. The sickness that Thorin suffers is never really explained well enough and his behaviour does not evoke any sympathy for the character. Martin Freeman plays Bilbo excellently and is fantastic to watch and its a shame he’s not given more to do in this film and the previous two.
Despite the grand climactic battle, The Battle of the Five Armies feels lengthy, exaggerated and most of all unnecessary. Eyebrows were raised when Peter Jackson’s two films dedicated to The Hobbit were extended to three and the decision doesn’t feel justified after seeing the third instalment. While the battle between the five armies is one of the most visually resplendent yet on-screen, it contains nothing new that hasn’t already been shown in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Peter Jackson tries his best to tell a story in amongst the fighting but without much success. The clash of Thorin and Azog ends up feeling more ridiculous than epic while the inclusion of Legolas fighting drawn out battles feels over done. Scenes intending to tug on audience’s heartstrings don’t come off as either we haven’t spent enough time with a given character to care or the dramatic material doesn’t suit the pace of the film.
Speaking of which, The Battle of the Five Armies, despite being the shortest of The Hobbit’s three movies feels overly long. A lot of the middle of the film is filled with exposition including a pointless trip for Tauriel and Legolas to an Orc stronghold. Such scenes are intended to build and amplify tension for the final battle but when you know this is coming all along is it really necessary? Another sequence involves Galadriel, Saruman and Elrond rescuing Gandalf from Dol Guldor and simply feels like more cameos rather than offering anything interesting to the plot.
So what of the final battle which will inevitably be the draw for a lot of people? Overall, not much new is involved if you’ve already seen The Lord of the Rings unless you count the increased use of CGI. It has become apparent that more and more CGI has been used in The Hobbit movies in comparison to The Lord of the Rings trilogy but The Battle of the Five Armies takes this to extremes whether its Bard’s cart-ride to protect his children, Billy Connolly’s battle-twirling Dain or Legolas’s exaggerated battle, it all comes across as quite messy. In a similar way, attempts to connect the trilogies with half-hearted mentions of other characters and laborious efforts to assemble all the right pieces feels clumsy.
In conclusion, The Battle of the Five Armies proves a disappointing final piece for The Hobbit trio of films. Despite an impressive opening sequence and a heartfelt performance from Martin Freeman, the film struggles to get going. Rather than being a satisfying conclusion of a lengthy journey for Bilbo, the over-reliance on CGI, a struggling pace and the sense that this trilogy could easily have been made into two films and not three makes The Battle of the Five Armies a chore rather than a joy to watch.
What did you think of the final film in The Hobbit trilogy?
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