The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
A Review by: Jeff Turner
Dir: Peter Jackson
Written by: Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro, Phillipa Boyens
Produced by: Phillipa Boyens, Carolynne Cunningham, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Zane Weiner
Starring: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Evangeline Lily.
Peter Jackson is the new George Lucas. A man who made a classic trilogy of movies, and expanded upon it. These prequels were highly anticipated and then contested upon release. I am one that will say that the Hobbit trilogy turned out better than the Star Wars prequels, and the first two movies I still think are quite good. The high frame rate was a bit of a bust despite Jackson’s best intentions, but I thought the movies were good.
My problems with this third movie began almost immediately. THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES big opening setpiece is of Bard defeating Smaug. The last film ending on a cliffhanger, without Smaug being “desolated” so to speak. This sequence is maybe 10 minutes long. Could they not have had it conclude the last movie? The rest of the movie follows Thorin (Richard Armitage), Bilbo (Martin Freeman), and the rest of the dwarves as they unite with Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and the Elves of Mirkwood, along with Bard (Luke Evans) and the people of Laketown.
There is plenty to love in THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES, such as Martin Freeman, reprising the role he was meant to play. Really all of the acting and even several of the action scenes all work, unfortunately the movie makes some very grave missteps in other areas.
One is the comic relief, which comes in the form of a character named Alfred. The Peter Jackson Tolkien adaptations have used comic relief a plethora of times, (such as Stephem Fry in DESOLATION) but Alfred’s whole shtick is just god-awful and just doesn’t gel with the movie at all. It’s the kind of comic relief that would make Michael Bay groan.
The pacing is also an issue. Jackson stretches out what was two chapters of the book into a two and a half hour movie. The thing is padded unlike any movie i’ve ever seen. You could cut a solid hour from THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES and miss nothing. I hope to god that this is the last Tolkien movie. Jackson spent the majority of the goodwill of THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and it is better that he bows out before he embarrasses himself. Thankfully, as Meat Loaf once sang “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.”