New Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Lee Pace, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, Mikael Persbrandt, Aiden Turner, Billy Connolly, Manu Bennett, Hugo Weaving and the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch
I get the feeling that director Peter Jackson just doesn't care anymore. While the first Hobbit movie had a little (very little, actually) of the magic of the classic Lord of the Rings trilogy, last year's The Desolation of Smaug was just a dreary exercise in action and surprisingly bad special-effects. Now we have The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and it is possibly the most lifeless film in this unnecessary trilogy. For an action spectacle that runs two hours and twenty-four minutes long, it's saying something that the one scene that stands out the most involves a coward dressing up as an old woman to get out of going to battle.
The movie picks up where the last movie left off, with the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) setting fire to Lake-town. There's no recap of the events from the previous movie because, and I'm just guessing here, the filmmakers assume you will have re-watched the previous two movies before going to see this one. They did the same thing with the original trilogy, although with those films, they had good reason to make that assumption. This time, not so much.
Bowman Bard (Luke Evans) escapes from his prison and kills Smaug within the first ten minutes of the movie, and the surviving residents of Lake-town name him their new leader. The day after the attack, they head over to the Lonely Mountain to ask Thorin (Richard Armitage) to share some of his wealth to help them start anew. But Thorin's mind has been poisoned by greed, and in one of the most unintentionally hilarious moments in the movie, he makes it clear to hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman, good but wasted) that he has no intention of sharing a single coin of his treasure with anyone.
Perhaps the most unnecessary subplot in the whole Hobbit franchise is the romantic triangle involving elves Tauriel (Evangeline Lily), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and dwarf Kili (Aiden Turner). The movie comes to a dead stop anytime it focuses on this subplot. Legolas turns his back on his father/king after learning he banished Tauriel from his kingdom, while Kili professes his love for Tauriel and gives her a special rock. It doesn't work in the slightest, although if you feel as though it does, you might like the scene where Legolas tells Tauriel: "My father may be my king, but he does not command my heart."
An army of elves show up with food and herbs for the survivors of Laketown. Just as Bard thanks them for their help, they make it very clear that the real reason they're there is to reclaim a couple of jewels that are somewhere inside the mountain. Meanwhile, Thorin sends out word to his cousin Dain (Billy Connolly) to send troops to help him against the Elven army, and frantically searches the mountain for the Arkenstone, the symbol of his kingship. Meanwhile, Azog the Desecrator (Manu Bennett) gathers an army and prepares to lay siege to the Lonely Mountain.
Meanwhile (there are quite a few meanwhiles in this darn movie), Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellan) is rescued from his prison by Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Saruman (Christopher Lee), and Elrond (Hugo Weaving). Galadriel gets to fight off a number of foes, and while this should be a high point in the movie, Jackson butchers the scene with special-effects overkill, so that what should have been a kick ass set-piece instead turns into a headache inducing mess.
Eventually, the titular battle takes place, and it goes on and on and on and on. I felt nothing during the battle, because the truth of the matter is that I just don't care about any of the characters. Even if I did, it still would have been a disappointment. The fight scenes in the movie are limp and uninspired, and are often unintentionally funny, such as the scene where Legolas runs up the pieces of a crumbling bridge and continues fighting an orc.
Now that the franchise is finally over, I am convinced now more than ever that The Hobbit could have been wrapped up in two movies at the most. Dragging this story out for three very long movies feels more like a cheap attempt to get a few extra bucks from the audience. There was just no need for it at all. Thankfully, the franchise has finally come to an end. There isn't going to be another one of these movies stinking up theaters next Christmas, and what's more, we still have the original Lord of the Rings to take us on a truly epic Middle Earth adventure.
More to the point, we still have the book, which deserved a better big screen treatment than what Jackson gave it.
Rated PG-13 for lots of action and violence
Final Grade: * ½ (out of ****)
What did you think of this movie? :)
My Reviews for the other Hobbit movies
- Movie Review: The Hobbit (2012)
Fourth time is not the charm for Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth in this adaptation of The Hobbit.
- New Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Other thoughts on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) :)
- Film Freak Central - The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Spot-on review here by Walter Chaw.
- Reelviews Movie Reviews
- The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (Peter Jackson - 2014) Movie Review - Graffiti With Punctuatio
The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (Peter Jackson - 2014) Movie Review
- Dustin Putman's Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) - 2.5/4 Stars - It may not completely redeem the errors in judgment that came before it, but this superior second sequel certainly makes all of the preceding hemming and hawing easier to swallow.