The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) Review:

So very tired.

Not a videogame.
Not a videogame.

Director: Peter Jackson

Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Aidan Turner et al…

Runtime: 144 minutes

Plot (taken from IMDb): Bilbo and company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the Lonely Mountain from falling into the hands of a rising darkness.

How'd I get in this film?
How’d I get in this film?

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (long name) is the third and final (hooray) part of the bloated Hobbit trilogy and unfortunately it is by far and away the worst.

While the first two films of this questionable trilogy were actually pretty good (I really enjoyed the second one despite its flaws) the third one sees the trilogy round everything out with a lot of material that was kinda just skipped over in the books. This film contains a large amount of new material and dialogue, and boy does it show.

The best scenes from all three films are the ones that stick closest to the book (see Riddles in the Dark, or Smaug and Bilbo’s conversation), but with the third film they ran out of book… However, to kick it all off was the ending the second film never got – we get around ten minutes of Smaug raining fire down onto Lake Town, with his ultimate demise, along with Stephen Fry’s character. It just doesn’t work.

This could've been better if it didn't begin with it and get rid of it within ten minutes...
Oh Smaug, why didst they forsake thee?

You’d expect the battle with Smaug in Lake Town to be grand considering the length of the film, but the way it was handled – just swept aside – really killed off the majesty of WETA’s glorious creation. Indeed, the opening ten minutes would have worked brilliantly at the end of the second film, but as it is, the build-up didn’t seem necessary. And this is the theme of the movie – unnecessary.

Such as it is, Bilbo (Martin Freeman) seems to get completely forgotten in favour of bad side characters and Thorin (Richard Armitage), Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) in particular. It’s a slightly messy film but largely set in three places, under the Lonely Mountain, the Wood-Elves realm and that place where Cate Blanchett goes green and shouts a lot.

The trouble is, no matter how good I think Martin Freeman, Luke Evans, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage are at their respective characters, the film ruins it. As I said above, the writing is bad, particularly the dialogue – we are treated to such lines as “You should have stayed dead!” and “What is love?”, as well as pointless stuff about fathers learning to love their children. As with the other films in this trilogy, the third part is very long: almost two-and-a-half hours long – at least 45 minutes of this is dedicated to the most ridiculous and CGI filled battle since The Phantom Menace.

Golden.
Golden.

The first half (after the disappointing Smaug finale-opening) of the film is concerned with people talking about a battle (and Alfrid, (Ryan Gage) being a tool), and Dwarves talking about how Thorin has changed, and the change is bad. We then get the battle, which is made up of an army of Elves, Orcs, Dwarves and people – not quite five armies. However, the big battle that it has supposedly been leading up to is very underwhelming, losing its epic scale through an over-abundance of ridiculous-looking CGI – especially one CGI dwarf and some CGI Elks.

The battle itself loses all impetus because it is just made completely ridiculous by the amount that is happening on-screen – it is like Peter Jackson got caught up in the creatures of Middle-Earth, throwing as many of ‘em together as he could, hoping for something cool to come out of the ordeal.

It is not all bad however, towards the end of the film an improvement is made – I enjoyed the battle of Thorin and Azog (Manu Bennett) and the emotional aspect comes through in the end. Indeed, the very ending of the film I thought was quite fantastic, really moving the series into the (far superior) Lord of the Rings trilogy that we all know and love in a wonderfully understated way.

There's also this guy.
There’s also this guy.

As mentioned already, the acting of the main cast is still good – particular Richard Armitage’s Thorin, and aspects of the film that were quieter came across quite well despite the below-par dialogue. The interaction between the dwarves and Bilbo is good fun, even in darker moments. Heck, even moments in the battle were decent, but I am a bit of a sucker for Middle-Earth imagery and lore.

Summary:

A bad film that gets through on a thread of nostalgia and some good acting. However, there are far too many flaws in a film that perhaps should never have existed. Despite this, this is a film that 10-14 year olds should love – just don’t go expecting anything on the quality of the first two Hobbit films, let alone The Lord of the Rings.

Watch it if you have to, but terribly disappointing.

59/100

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