The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies- -
Immediately after the events of The Desolation of Smaug, Bilbo and the dwarves try to defend Erebor's mountain of treasure from others who claim it: the men of the ruined Laketown and the elves of Mirkwood. Meanwhile an army of Orcs led by Azog the Defiler is marching on Erebor, fueled by the rise of the dark lord Sauron. Dwarves, elves and men must unite, and the hope for Middle-Earth falls into Bilbo's hands.
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Finally, after over a decade of false starts, rewrites, legal disputes and production woes, Peter Jackson’s epic follow-up to “Lord of the Rings” has finally seen its end. Fans are filling theaters all over the world, eager to see how the adventures of a young Bilbo Baggins will end, and hopefully catch a new perspective on the magical world of Middle-Earth before bidding it farewell. The past two entries have left audiences a bit underwhelmed. “The Hobbit” had big shoes to fill, coming on the heels of the Oscar winning mega-hit that was “Lord of the Rings”, so perhaps it’s understandable that the prequel series might not have been quite what we all hoped for.
Sadly, the final entry stands as “The Hobbit’s” weakest, ending this prequel trilogy on a whimper when it could have gone out with a bang. Fans will still find moments to love here and there, but on the whole the movie is disjointed, overblown, and feels rushed despite its 144 minute run-time. Characters are introduced and forgotten, fight scenes are cheesy and poorly edited, and nothing gets resolved satisfactorily. Since this was our last chance to recapture that old Tolkien magic that the original trilogy handled so well, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is an especially sad disappointment.
The plot picks up mere moments from where the previous film left off. The dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) is terrorizing Lake Town, burning the village and sending villagers fleeing for their lives. He is quickly dealt with by Bard (Luke Evans) and then the plot shifts suddenly back to the dwarves and Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). The gang has successfully recaptured their underground city and are dealing with the greed their new hoard of treasure has brought. This is compounded by the arrival of the titular five armies, consisting of orcs, elves, dwarves, humans, and even giant eagles, all preparing to do battle for a claim on the gold in the mountain.
If that synopsis sounds a bit cluttered, that’s because it is. Those who haven’t seen the last two films should stay far away from this movie, and even hardcore fans will occasionally find themselves scratching their heads and wondering why everyone seems angry at each other one moment and friendly as can be the next. Much like the previous entries, this episode feels padded, stretching the source novel to its absolute limit and adding several subplots that go nowhere. It’s downright bizarre for a movie this long to feel this rushed.
As the title might suggest, “Battle of the Five Armies” is largely concerned with a large and overblown action scene at its center, where hoards of every conceivable CGI creation kill each other in PG-13 appropriate ways. This offers the odd thrill, but there is little to no suspense in any fight scene. The named characters feel immortal and superhuman, able to chop through hundreds of nameless enemies with barely a thought. This robs the action of any tension. There’s one particularly cartoonish fight scene where the elf hero Legolas runs across a falling bridge, seeming to defy gravity at several points. Be warned, you might laugh out loud.
Moreover, the movie suffers from a serious inconsistency of tone. Moments of goofy slapstick clash terribly against scenes that attempt real pathos. Children cry out for their father who went missing in the dragon attack, and then two seconds later we’re watching an especially grating character named Alfrid (Ryan Gage) prance about in a dress, trying to hide some stolen gold. The filmmakers couldn’t seem to decide if they were making a war movie or a wacky comedy for kids, and the film suffers for it.
What bright spots there are come from the cast, an eminently talented bunch of international actors who do what they can with the mangled script they were given. Ian McKellen reprises his role as the wise wizard Gandalf, standing as a shining example of what the film could have and should have been. He’s simply brilliant in the role, offering energy and gravitas that the rest of the film lacks. Martin Freeman has bright moments, even if, much like the movie around him, he can’t always seem to decide if he’s going for a joke or a teary eye. The rest of the extensive ensemble work ably, though perhaps considering the preponderance of green screen this movie has made use of, they could all be forgiven for feeling a bit fake at times.
And sadly, that’s all there is to say about the third part of the “Hobbit” trilogy. It’s long, goofy, tone deaf, and frustrating, making far too many mistakes and leaving the audience feeling supremely disappointed. If “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is remembered ten years from now, it will be as a cautionary tale: how NOT to end a trilogy.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]