Peter Jackson takes us to Middle Earth for one last time (supposedly) in "The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies", the third film in the second trilogy of Middle Earth films.
Peter Jackson's "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy are among some of the finest films ever made, his "Hobbit" trilogy however seems to be lacking. Back in 2012 we started off on "An Unexpected Journey" that led us to "The Desolation Of Smaug" and now finally we have arrived for "The Battle Of The Five Armies", the climactic event that will take us into Jackson's superior trilogy.
The film kicks off all guns blazing with Smaug the stupendous reigning Dragon fire down on the people of Laketown. This opening scene is a nice introduction but it would have felt more at place at the finale of the previous installment rather than at the forefront of a film where its presence feels rushed. This fast paced action scene unfortunately makes the proceeding 30-40 minutes a rather tough ordeal to sit through. Secondary characters and tedious subplots take precedence whilst stories from the last film are tied up in the background.
The film is certainly off to a rocky start, uninteresting subplots and characters distract from the otherwise entertaining and dark main plot involving our company of Dwarves and Bilbo. Alfrid, the master of Laketown's servant from the last film is given a much bigger role in this film, which may be the worst decision Peter Jackson has ever made. The film spends far too much time focusing on this character and his relationship with Bard, attempting to be the comic relief of the film in a film that does not necessitate any.
After what seems like an eternity, the film starts to pick up. Thorin and his crew scour the halls of Erebor for the Arkenstone, a most precious jewel that Thorin desperately searches for. The stone is driving him insane and he starts to suspect his own kin of thieving it from him, meanwhile Bilbo hides the stone from him. This internal conflict that Thorin has was one of the more gripping aspects of the film.
After a lot of the drama is dealt with, the battle kicks off when the Orcs show up to claim the homeland of the Dwarves as their stronghold. Jackson shows off his talents in the large scale conflict that eventually takes place. As entertaining as the battle is, it all gets a bit CG heavy and unfortunately begins to look like a cartoon. "The Lord Of The Rings" was a trilogy that pioneered the use of practical effects as well as CGI, but "The Hobbit" decides to throw all that away in exchange for a green screen.
The film climaxes on a powerful note that will leave die hard fans certainly moved. When the film isn't all sword and shield, there are some more somber moments that make this the most emotional of the trilogy, most notably between Bilbo and Thorin, whose rivalry turned budding friendship forgoes its roughest patch yet. After the titular battle, ends are tied up and in classic Peter Jackson fashion, multiple endings ensue, the majority of which forcibly tie in to the other trilogy.
The film stumbles its way through constant tonal shifts, from romance to epic scale battles. There is an overlying stench of incoherence in this once simple tale of a band of Dwarves taking their home back from a Dragon. There are one too many subplots and pointless characters that make this film feel even more bloated then its predecessors.
"The Battle Of The Five Armies" has its fair share of drawbacks but still has enough to entertain. As a whole "The Battle Of The Five Armies" is an underwhelming end to a mostly underwhelming trilogy that may have been better off as two films as originally planned.
Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage and Ian McKellen deliver yet again in their respective roles as Bilbo, Thorin and Gandalf. But yet again the highlight of the film are Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), two very good looking Elves who know their way around a fight. Character moments are exchanged for grand scale battles which depending on your preference may be a good or bad thing.
The stakes of Orcs taking over Erebor don't feel big enough compared to what we've seen in this world before. In LOTR, a ring of power has to be destroyed or else evil will destroy the world and that deserved grand scale battles. "The Hobbit" story feels far too small to require these gigantic fights, so the smaller more intimate battles actually have a lot more impact than the CG heavy battlefield scenes.
The film is a mixed bag, its off to a terrible start but slowly builds up momentum and is a serviceable send off to Jackson's visualization of Tolkien's world.
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