The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies
Directed by: Peter Jackson
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images)
Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Evangeline Lilly, Aidan Turner
I did not get to see the final Hobbit movie until almost a month after it came out. My friends’ reviews were not favorable, so I was wary going in. The Lord of the Rings trilogy are my favorite movies, and while The Hobbit movies have not lived up to LotR’s epicness, they have been entertaining and of generally good quality. But I heard so much negativity about The Battle of Five Armies, that I felt disappointed before I even bought my ticket. Honestly, I didn’t even know how to review it, which is why this review may seem a bit ADD.
I will say this first: I was definitely entertained by the final installment. The quality of the film overall is excellent, with insane special effects, massive battle sequences, gorgeous set, costume and weapon design, and solid performances. Peter Jackson certainly knows how to make a film in Middle Earth look spectacular. If you’re looking for a good time of cinema magic, you’ll probably enjoy the last Hobbit movie.
I have read The Hobbit many times, probably more than any other book I’ve read; my recollection of The Battle of Five Armies is that it was much shorter than this two-and-a-half hour spectacle (though that’s a bit shorter than it’s predecessors). If you didn’t pay close attention in the previous films, you’d likely be completely lost. A handful of completely different storylines make up this movie, weaving in and out of the others, converging in this massive battle. And yes, much of it is not from the book. I like to call The Hobbit movies fanfiction, because they have added to the story and evolved so much from the fairly simple and straightforward tale that Tolkien originally penned. Does this bother me? Not so much. I think some of the added scenes were a little forced, sure (especially the Elrond, Galadriel, Sarumon fighting the Ringwraiths and Sauron scene. It was just too much) but a lot of the extra content serves as a bridge between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
I really wanted to be on board with the Tauriel/Kili relationship. I love Aidan Turner (Kili); I think he’s adorable and loveable and a great actor, and I think Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel) is gorgeous and elegant and also a good actress. But when you suddenly realize that their parallel in LotR is Arwen and Aragorn (who have a far more compelling relationship), Tauriel and Kili just seem sad and quite silly. Not to mention that it’s the most Fanfictiony part of the movie. Like, did Peter Jackson sit down and think “what The Hobbit is missing most is a sexy relationship between an elf and a hot dwarf (is there such a thing?)”
Just because you cast a gorgeous dwarf doesn’t mean he has to be part of some bizarre dwarf-elf relationship (especially when it adds NOTHING to the plot).
Why did we find it necessary to give Orlando Bloom crazy eyes? Because they were freaky, and absolutely unnecessary. And of course, in true Legolas fashion, our favorite elf manages to do the impossible every five minutes—he wins the award for most ridiculously overpowered character. Like, remember that time he surfed down the stairs on a shield while simultaneously firing arrows at an Uruk hai during the Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers?
Ah, those were the days. His shenanigans are far worse (better?) in Battle of Five Armies. I dearly missed the bright and endearing comedic relief Legolas and Gimli brought to the trilogy; in Five Armies we’re left with a sad attempt at grotesque humor from Alfred, another unnecessary character that I continuously hoped Bard would punch or stab or maim. Which of course, he didn’t. Freeman helps keep things light as Bilbo (“Is this a good place to stand Gandalf?”), but it’s not the same as our favorite Dwarf-Elf team counting their kills and creating the best bromance in epic fantasy.
Also, I know we are trying to bridge the gap between the Hobbit and the trilogy, but did we have to have Thranduil tell Legolas to go hang out with Aragorn? I would be surprised if Thranduil even likes Aragorn, since, Oh yeah, Thranduil’s a jerk and hates everyone.
I still say Martin Freeman was the best possible choice for Bilbo. He’s brilliant, and even though there isn’t really one main character to focus on in Five Armies, Freeman still does a masterful job as the ever-evolving Hobbit.
Bard (an obvious precursor to Aragorn) was well and likeably played by Luke Evans. Though Evans didn’t have nearly as much time or material to create a character like Viggo Mortensen had to create Aragorn, I still enjoyed seeing Bard nobly sacrifice for his family and a village who doesn’t deserve him.
To be honest, I loved the ending. I loved that the final scene was the beginning scene of Fellowship. It made me want to immediately go home and watch Lord of the Rings. And then followed by the credits with a song sung by Billy Boyd (Pippin)? Magical.
So yes, I recommend seeing The Battle of Five Armies, before it leaves theaters, because in the end, it’s a pretty cool movie. Especially if you like gigantic battle sequences. Just remember that they’ve taken liberties with the script and try to have an open mind. Remember, they weren’t thinking “how can we ruin this movie for everyone?” They want you to enjoy it. So try to.