Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, and Benedict Cumberbatch
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images, 144 minutes, Fantasy/Action/Adventure
The third and final installment of The Hobbit trilogy, it’s a bit tough to leave out the adaption changes certain Hobbit/LOTR fans have put in my mind. While many adaptions tend to leave out details that are important to the written story, The Hobbit trilogy has opted to add in many original subplots to the tale.
That being said, adaption changes aren’t relevant to the quality of a movie but based on fan preference and any movie should be judged as it’s own work if the story itself allows it. And with Five Armies being the third in a trilogy, how does it stack up to the first two?
In an epic finale, Bilbo, Thorin and his men all face Smaug the dragon who intends on destroying Laketown and its inhabitants. But even if Smaug is defeated, what’s to become of Thorin and the treasure within the mountain? Races from all over begin to meet at the base of Erebor to decide what will happen to those involved, and most of them don’t come in peace.
As mentioned, the third film will always be a third film. It’s not that it doesn’t have a chance at being as good as its predecessors but judging a movie without comparing it to its priors is impossible for a film that continues its story. So the good news is that if you love the first two in The Hobbit installments, nothing should change for you here; all is well and the tone, effects, acting- it’s all still there for you.
Though one would be amiss to not mention the uneven pacing of a film that seems to add in and take out whatever and whenever it desires. I don’t meant adapted scenes or original ones, but the scenes that seem to draw us in to a battle and yank us out with slower dialogue that seems to prevail little with the main plot and more to do with side romances and back stories that matter little to the overarching point of the film.
While The Lord of the Rings proved itself a different breed of Fantasy/Action films, The Hobbit has sported a different look altogether with the ever present use of CGI that is the film rather than being a tool of. Glossy colors permeate the screen and while it does look good, it seems more like a giant cartoon with real actors placed throughout rather than watching a live action film. The same could be said for many films that require much special effects to bring the story to life, the issue being that the visuals, while impressive still, don’t ever feel quite real.
Something akin to this could be said for much of the film. Great costume and set design, the score (Again, wonderfully constructed by Howard Shore), and many of the actors are properly placed but something of the jerkiness in the feel of it all. The right ingredients are all there but it seems added at the wrong time, or maybe too much and too little of it all. Fan service is evident with added effects where any feeling of tension begins to dissipate and the best way to enjoy it is to marvel at how detailed the computer generated figures are.
I definitely wouldn’t call this an opportunistic cash grab the way many have. Director Peter Jackson doesn’t seem to have lost any love for middle-earth in a personal sense, but his methods of bringing it back to life appear uneven and unstable. A battle here, slow-motion there, an elf cries now, a dwarf later. Nothing about this movie is particularly bad, but nothing struck as me as awe-inspiring the way Jackson’s standard originally was raised to.
And though I wouldn’t look down on a movie for not being “game changing,” isn’t that much of the point of bringing back beloved characters in a story that’s changed so many lives? The standard had been set very high, but it still needs to be met and why shouldn’t it be by the people who set it to begin with?
Positives: Effects look great, the end is wrapped up for those who have been waiting, the score is great (as always with these films). Fans of the first two won’t be disappointed with this one.
Negatives: Uneven in pace, effects are done well though there’s a glossy sheen that can be difficult to look past, fan service is pretty constant.