"The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies" is an entertaining epic that definitely needs to be seen on the big screen, preferably IMAX.
I have just sat through the entire "Hobbit" trilogy marathon, so with that unique perspective some parts of the films, but specifically "The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies" - both good and bad - became glaring to me.
So, without trying to spoil anything, here they are.
First, it quickly becomes clear that the "cliffhanger" at the end of "The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug" was wholly unnecessary.
Peter Jackson deals with Smaug's fate in the first 15 minutes of "The Battle Of The Five Armies" , so I think it would have been better to have "Desolation of Smaug" stand on it's own and have "The Battle Of The Five Armies" deal with the aftereffects of seemingly saving the day, which it does for most of it's running time anyway.
Also, "The Battle Of The Five Armies" turns out to have been a poorly chosen title. For those who have not read the books or immersed themselves in Tolkien's literary world, the title takes dome of the drama out of the proceedings. When two giant armies are facing each other early on, part of me couldn't help but wonder, "Okay, when is number three going to dhow up? When that army arrived, I was waiting for, instead of being surprised by, the appearance of Numbers Four and five.
In retrospect, "There and Back Again" would have been an appropriate title. Since we see the main characters rush into battle, over and over again.
We see some of our favorite characters engaging in pretty impressive swordplay, over and over again.
We see one of the main characters refusing to listen to reason, over and over again.
We see the conflict between dwarves and elves played out and discussed, over and over again.
We see some of our favorite characters, survive what should be fatal falls without a scratch, over and over again.
We see a town seemingly destroyed, yet still standing, over and over again.
One character proves himself to be a weasel and a coward, over and over again.
We get heavy-handed metaphors for the wastefulness of war and the corruption of money, over and over again.
This is not to bash the film. The action is epic and Jackson has again successfully transported us to a unique place. It is still one hell of an achievement.
Oh, and Evangeline Lilly gives a memorable performance as Tauriel. I really enjoyed that character a lot.
But you get no sense of what she or any of the other survivors will do once the battle is over. None of them - not even Gandalf and Bilbo - ever fully feel like fully fleshed out characters.
Also, whie the action is magnificent, there are no moments that sear into my brain as much as Liv Tyler defiantly, strongly stating, "If you want him, come and claim him1" from the original trilogy - or Frodo being carried by his friend after giving his all, or Gandalf screaming, "You! Shall not! Pass!"
Again, while definitely a worthy entry in (and concluding chapter of) one of the greatest film franchises of all time, "The themes, interactions and almost nonstop battle become a bit numbing after a while.
That said, "The Hobbit": The Battle of the Five Armies" gets just a whisker below my highest possible recommendation.
Thank you, Peter Jackson!
What do all of you think?