Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Well, The Hobbit is finally done. After taking a barely 100-page book and turning it into 9 hours of film, we are finally done with this Middle-Earth saga. There have been epic battles, eye-rolling CGI, and some good performances all-around. But did the final chapter go out with a bang…or a whimper?
The one mistake any one person can make while watching these films is attempting to compare them to the Lord of the Rings films. They are not the same and they should not be held in the same regard. The Lord of the Rings had an epic feel to the entire 9-hour running time. The stakes were much higher in those films. The dramatic moments had much more weight to them. The Hobbit, while having its’ own dramatic moments and emotional weight; it is still different. It isn’t the same kind of feel.
The Hobbit films can be broken down very easily when you have to explain the three films. The first one was a lot of setup and was rather slow-moving. The second one was definitely lengthy as well, but it had more action. It introduced a romance you either buy into or you don’t and it was the moment fans had been waiting for with the introduction of the dragon Smaug. The second one had the slow parts of the first one with a good amount of action thrown in for good measure. The last one, The Battle of the Five Armies, did away with the slow buildup from the first movie and was pretty much all action from the opening scene. It was one giant battle that lasted a good hour to an hour and a half. It was all action. There was still enough time to have a decent amount of character development, but it was mostly all action.
The Battle of Five Armies takes off where The Desolation of Smaug left us. Smaug was headed for Lake Town to destroy everything, while Bilbo and the dwarves are still at the mountain. Fifteen minutes in, and Smaug is dispatched by Bard (Luke Evans). But the story doesn’t end there. With all that gold and wealth in that mountain, other parties are interested in taking it now that the dragon is gone. There’s orcs, elves, dwarves, bats, and probably some other creature I can’t think of. They are all heading to the Lonely Mountain to take it. All while Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) sits on the wealth and refuses to join the battle as greed and “dragon sickness” take over his brain. Gandalf is dealing with a story that tries to link these films with the Lord of the Rings ones and Bilbo is just the middle man in the entire war story.
I am on the fence with this film because there are definitely aspects that I liked but there are also parts I did not. The romance between Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel and the dwarf Fili kind of fizzled out. I never really bought into it myself. The only good-looking dwarf there and an Elf character that, to my knowledge, is a brand new character. I was never a fan. I love Evangeline Lilly in these films, but the romance was a weak point for me. And it only got weaker in this last one. The elements of it that were good in Desolation were gone in this one. The romance was rushed in this one and lost every element of appeal it may have once had.
The action scenes were mostly really well done, but the focus on CGI makes me angry at times. Azog the Defiler, the main antagonist to Thorin, is one of the worst offenders of this. I may be alone in this, but I feel like Azog looked different in each movie. Scars were different, his whole body changed in size, and his face looked different too. I was a little distracted by this change. And the most ridiculous CGI moment had to be when Legolas did the “running up the stairs” routine to falling rocks. It was ridiculous and made me laugh, but not in a good way. Lastly, the attempts at light humor were mostly failures. They mostly fell flat, but I admire the attempt.
But the choreography of the entire war was executed well and the action was intense at times. There were a few eye-rolling moments, but for the most part, all of the action bits were fun and awesome. The acting was still mostly solid. The main stars definitely shined through. Martin Freeman solidified himself as Bilbo Baggins once again. I always knew he would be perfect in this role and he proved me right. The other guy who shined through was Richard Armitage. His role as Thorin was really good. There was a lot of character development with Thorin and Bilbo, and it was their friendship and relationship that was one of the best aspects of the entire Hobbit saga.
Lastly, the ending felted a bit rushed. The whole last act felt a little rushed. I may be used to super lengthy runtimes for these movies, but it definitely felt rushed. It was the shortest of the three films, after all. The Lord of the Rings took too long with its 23 endings and The Hobbit rushed theirs. Two extremes. If only Peter Jackson could find a lukewarm center in the middle of those two extremes. This could have honestly been one lengthy movie if you took out all of the unncecessary bits. If you cut the set-up in half from the first movie and do the same for the lengthy battle in the last one, you’d have one lenghty standalone Hobbit film. That probably would have worked out to be a better quality film than splitting it into three. At the end of the day, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies wasn’t a bad movie by any means. It had some good action and some good performances. But it still left me wanting more.
WHAT I LIKED:
+: Great action sequences
+: Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage’s performances as Bilbo and Thorin.
+: Bilbo and Thorin’s character development
+: The first fifteen minutes
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
-: The CGI was overwhelming. Some instances were just ridiculous.
-: Didn’t buy into the Fili-Tauriel romance even less than the last film.
-: Rushed ending.