The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies photo starrating-2stars.jpgIf for nothing else, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is wonderful for finally putting to rest the ongoing speculation as to whether making 3 movies was a cash grab. It most certainly was. This series has always been marred by a ridiculously extended narrative. The original book by JRR Tolkien was 310 pages and meant for children. The filmed adaptation by Peter Jackson runs 474 minutes in its entirety. That’s almost 8 hours folks. My patience has worn out. Simply put, the third installment is an aesthetically pleasing but tedious bore.

Our story commences with Smaug the dragon. He assaults the city of Lake-town by setting fire to it, destroying everything. Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) faces off against the beast with his arrows. What happens next doesn’t put an end to the troubles of Bilbo and the dwarves. In fact it brings more enmity, not closure. It’s interesting to note that Bilbo (Martin Freeman) doesn’t even register as the star of the movie that bears his name. Instead most of the plot concerns the spiritual quest of Thorin, the dwarf leader played by Richard Armitage. Given his portrayal here, you’ll forget that he was once a good guy. Driven solely by greed, he’s an insufferable presence.

This sleep inducing chronicle encourages a lot of reflection during its 144 minute slog. The fighting is monotonous. All of it repetitive. The battle is drawn out for no other purpose than to render 72 pages into a feature length work. Although it gave me time to make some random observations. What to make of that title? As near as I can figure it, the five armies comprise of (1) Goblins & Wargs, (2) the Men of Dale, (3) Elves, (4) Dwarves and (5) Eagles. Wait what? Eagles?! I’m sorry but a group of gliding birds does not constitute an army. I don’t care how big they are. Actor Ryan Gage is dreary comic relief as Alfrid Lickspittle, a citizen of Lake-town whose chief skill is disguising himself as a woman to save his own skin. When he cries out “Won’t somebody please think of the children?” All I heard was Helen Lovejoy, the gossipy wife of the Reverend on The Simpsons. How about some more déjà vu line readings? A CGI display has Galadriel holding up her hand to banish evil spirit Sauron. But hold the Arkenstone! Did I hear Galadriel dismiss Sauron with a “Begone! You have no power here!”? Wasn’t that Glinda’s line from The Wizard of Oz? Maybe she should’ve just dropped a house on him and been done with it.

The Hobbit as a adaptation simply does not have a narrative rich enough to sustain this bloated, distended bore. The chronicle is not deep nor meaningful nor even well-executed, with one exception. At least there is a definitive conclusion. That’s something that couldn’t be said of the previous two parts. Cheers for that. But the paper-thin plot is stretched out beyond all common sense. Director Peter Jackson continues to add his own characters and subplots to the detriment of Tolkien’s “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” novel.  Jackson’s re-imagining has no focus. Smaug’s attack upon Lake-town, which opens part 3, is one of the better sequences as far as this prequel franchise is concerned. It captivated me. But it’s really the only thing that did. The climatic fight, which is supposed to be the centerpiece, goes on forever – interminable.  It’s more Game of Thrones than Tolkien anyway. The material is there. Somewhere buried under all of this exposition is an entertaining adventure, which prompts my suggestion: Could someone please take these three Hobbit movies and just edit them into one enjoyable 2 hour film? Thanks in advance.

12-21-14

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14 Responses to “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”

  1. Scott Hobin Says:

    I heard it was just 3 hours of wizards, gobblins, and elfs fighting in CGI battle scences

  2. Good review Mark. The trilogy is finally over and while I’m not too sad about it, I am happy that it went out on a good note. If only I think so.

  3. I think people get caught up in the woderous eye candy that Jackson creates. I wasn’t crazy about The Hobbit – hated the so called comic relief of the trolls.

    As for Smaug – I felt is was bolated, overstuffed – too long with too little of a reward.

    So, I think you are telling us that you didn’t mcu care for the length nor the paper thin plot. And overstuffed applies once more.

    But I’ll gather it will still make money enough to smooth over Jackson’s responses to the critics that stood on the side of the opposition.

    Fortunately, I f I go in the morning I can withhold something from the box office returns. I gather you saw the standard 2D, as you mentioned nothing about the Imax or 3D.

    Great catch on the Oz/Glinda business.

    • I had to go out of my way, but I avoided 3D and HFR showings. It looked great. Peter Jackson has perfected Middle-earth style down to a science.

      This seems poised to ultimately do about $270 million which would be an improvement over The Desolation of Smaug.

  4. Solid review. To be honest my excitement level for this movie isn’t all that high otherwise I would have watched it in the first weekend like I did with the first two instalments. I might get around to it over the holidays … maybe. 🙂

  5. After seeing this long kinda boring kinda exciting final film, I watched the “The Hobbit” cartoon. It was nice to see the whole movie in under 2 hours. I wish they’d given us 1 really good 2 hour movie. 3 stars.

  6. “Tedious bore” are words I’ve frequently heard to describe the final chapter of The Hobbit. Thankfully it screened on nights when I had class, so I didn’t suffer through it. I’m not surprised to hear it’s not very good, since I wasn’t a fan of part two. I think we were all pretty skeptical whether there was enough narrative for a third chapter, and apparently that was for good reason.

  7. Saw it today….. Have to say it IS padding, which is sad given the effort and chunk of his life peter jackson has given to tolkein….. For me it descends into animated farce where the white orcs become even bigger and badder acting out straight-to-playstation battle sequences and dialogue is at a premium…. Consists of little more than “da!” Whenever Bard sees one of his kids being chased by an orc and gandalf lamenting the stubborness of elves, dwarves and everyone else…..

    As with the lord of the rings series, i cant help feeling the first film in both trilogies is actually the best, where the characters and actors (and lets be honest there are some bloody good actors on screen) are given room to breathe, talk about pipe weed and tramp through forests etc

    Final recommendation, as always, is to read the books, but sad that Peter Jackson has moved so far away from tolkein in this film in particular, and has embraced animation and loud bangs and crashes so whole heartedly over dialogue and the sense of foreboding that exists in the first films in both series

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