Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

If I’m honest there hasn’t been too many films that I’ve really been looking forward to this year. It’s been very much a case of letting reviews and trailers shape my film viewing habits. That is of course, with the exception of one. The conclusion to the trilogy. The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies.

And as you will see, in preparation for over the last few days I have reacquainted myself with Hobbits, Dwarfs, Dragons and Wizards by watching Part 1: An Unexpected Journey and Part 2: The Desolation Of Smaug, in anticipation of saying goodbye to Middle Earth once and for all.

The Ork Army - The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

A lot has been made of the fact that Peter Jackson has split The Hobbit up into three films, and as a result, this final film could potentially suffer problems from having to stretch a lot of screen time out of little source material and when the initial reviews appeared seeming to back this up, that this film is really nothing more than one long, long battle I didn’t quite know how to think. It would be a shame for the story to end in such a narrow way, but by the same token, Jackson has proven before to be a master at the craft of epic scale fighting and who doesn’t like a lot of action anyway?

Sadly though, the reviews where being a little bit kind in my view. This film just feels swamped by the battle and disjointed as a result. What character driven narrative there is feels misused and misplaced. The war is coming and to be forced to stand around and talk about its arrival, with very little reason or depth to those discussions, sadly, lacks much power. It doesn’t really grab you, hold you or command much attention. Whereas something like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 took talking about war without much else to a whole new level, it did so with a distinct angle, an obvious view point. I felt The Battle Of The Five Armies spoke purely as a way of passing the time.

And when war finally does arrive. When battle commences, Jackson really does show you just how to orchestrate a fight. Visually it is stunning. The scale of the force, the movement of the pieces. That momentary calm before the storm. Everything basks in a subtle beauty. A beauty that is carried over when the fighting starts. Every swing of a sword, every chop with an axe majestically crafted and exquisitely executed.

Jigsw Pieces - The HobbitL The Battle Of The Five Armies

The problem though is that no matter how good it looks, there is just too much going on and Jackson just doesn’t know how to tie it all together, how to explain the flow of a battle. We’re treated to short interludes, darting from army to army, from fight to fight and the war spills across the land and the net result is that you cannot really follow what’s going on. Who is winning. Or even, who has the upper hand. It ends up feeling like jigsaw pieces in a box, jumbled up and hiding the finished picture.

Even worse though for me, is the extended story lines and diverting from the source material. A lot of this film is simply based upon ideas from the book rather than on the book itself. While I fully understand why, from a cinematic point of view, large portions of the book need to be tweaked or rewritten to work. Characters need longer back stories, elements need garnishing, there is just too much “new” material. Too many areas where you feel you’re no longer seeing the imagination of Tolkien’s creation but rather the interpretation of Jackson’s reading.

However, I must caveat that by saying, you’ll only realise the level of deviation if you’ve read the book. If not, you’ll just walk through a fantasy adventure blindly accepting.

Also, one of the greatest thing to come out of both trilogies: The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit, is the musical score by Howard Shore. But this time around the score, for me, felt weak and almost nonexistent; especially during the battle. It’s slightly strange in that you don’t really miss it, but it’s not until the song of the shire, the tune of the hobbit’s reappears that you realise just how much audibly you have been missing. How much more you could have been given.

The Goblin King - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I am massively disappointed by how the franchise has finished. They obviously decided to end everything with a monster battle. To go big before going home and yet they’ve missed the mark completely in my view. The Battle Of The Five Armies is just too dark, too singular in its plot and too weak in it’s narrative to stand against everything that has gone before. I truly felt that rather than ending this adventure, I was instead, simply being passed through to the world of Lord Of The Rings. That the magic, the excitement, humour: The Golbin King, Gollum, Smaug, the courage, the friendship, everything that makes this tale so wonderful and enthralling had been lost.

I truly hate to say this, but by the end of our journey I was thankful it was over. And that makes me really rather sad.

7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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