Cinematic Releases: The Hobbit - The Battle of The Five Armies

There and back again.......finally!!!!
Peter Jackson finally completes The Hobbit's journey with The Battle of the Five Armies. 

"Everybody quiet. I think they
just said marijuana is now
legal in Middle Earth!!!"
The final chapter of Peter Jackson's stretched thin adaptation of The Hobbit comes to a conclusion with The Battle of the Five Armies.

For many fans, the film will have sentimental meaning, especially for those who took Jackson’s first journey though Middle Earth 13 years ago when Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring hit the screen. For others, it will be a sigh of relief that it’s finally over. The overly dramatic ending to The Desolation of Smaug varied greatly from Tolkien’s written work, leaving many fan’s wondering how Jackson would pull it all together in the grand finale.

It took two films to get to the Battle of the Five Armies. After an impressive beginning that leaves Lake Town in flames the story quickly falls flat. It’s apparent early on that the decision to stretch The Hobbit into three films has finally caught up with the story telling. Much of this film muddles though the screenplay’s overly drawn out expanded storyline. Many of these scenes are Jackson’s effort to tie The Hobbit into the events of The Lord of the Rings, but after two films, the broken record repetition had me rolling my eyes. We get it. Sauron is building an army. Stop it already.

One bright spot is Richard Armitage’s portrayal of Thorin as he falls victim to the greed of Drangon’s sickness. Yet even this storyline gets painfully drug out. One scene in particular goes way over the top, trying too hard to get the point across. It’s presence in the film was unnecessary, and would have been better suited as a deleted scene offering in Jackson’s extended edition. Then again, these are the type of things you get when a film is grossly spread thin.

As for pulling Tolkien’s original work and Jackson’s screenplay together, the film first goes even farther off track. When the two stories finally come together it feels forced and unnatural. As a result it hurts the cohesiveness of the film. Whenever the movie seems to get going, another unnecessary subplots sidetracks the whole story. This over saturation of Tolkien’s Middle Earth acts as a hiccup throughout the film.

"Yes, that's what Gandalf said.
To the dispensary we go, Legolas!!
And bring your bong."
Like all of Peter Jackson’s battle sequences, The Battle of the Five Armies is an impressive display of modern cinema. Yet unfortunately, modern cinema has also aided the regression of this third installment. The realism of the orcs and goblins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy can easily be attributed to the production’s use actors and make up. It added a distinct personality to those films. Five Armies’ over use of CGI creates an impressive scale, yet lacks the authentic feel of Jackson’s previous works. It leaving the film with an overly manufactured feel. Also, after five action filled films, there is little room for originality. Viewers have seen it all before. The eagles conveniently show up to save the day, Gandalf once again defeats the odds to escapes captivity, and Legolas performs more ridiculous action maneuvers than Pierce Bronson’s James Bond ever did. It’s the unfortunate fate of making The Hobbit into a trilogy.

By the time Five Armies gets to the heart of the film, viewers may be too overwhelmed to fully appreciate it. The emotion is there, and each cast member gives a memorable performance, but at times it feels like Peter Jackson was trying to remake The Return of the King, using The Hobbit’s storyline. Once the sub-stories are finally out of the way, the film comes to life, and the beauty of Tolkien’s work finally unfolds on screen. Sadly, It took way too long to happen, tarnishing the impact it deserves.

The ending is spot on to the novel. Its a delightful sigh of relief that isn’t without frustration at what The Hobbit should have been all along. Overall, it’s enjoyable to finally see this story come to a conclusion, but it will leave most Tolkien fans with mixed emotions.

Like Bilbo and the Dwarves, the story gets lost in Mirkwood Forest and never recovers.

-Lee Lind