The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro
Based on: J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, and other books of his
Sequel to: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Prequel to: The Lord of the Rings
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett, Sylvester McCoy, Lee Pace, Manu Bennett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mikael Persbrandt, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Billy Connolly
The dwarves and Bilbo (Martin Freeman) have roused Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Smaug is on his way to lay waste to Laketown. But Bard (Luke Evans) manages to save the town from that fate by killing Smaug. Now the Lonely Mountain can be claimed by Thorin (Richard Armitage), who immediately starts looking for one particular gem – the Arkenstone – and slowly succumbs to dragon sickness. In the meantime various armies start to gather outside the Lonely Mountain, all with a different claim on the treasure and/or the people within.
I thought that the last installment of the movie really was quite disappointing. I mean, neither of the three can live up to The Lord of the Rings anyway, but at least Desolation of Smaug was entertaining. Battle of the Five Armies was too much battle, too little coherence and way too much Alfrid.
I was always a defender of the increased length of the Hobbit. After all, Jackson et al. didn’t only turn to the novel, but to much more source material to tell their story. But then they went ahead and made a film that is 90% filler, making it clear that a separation in two films instead of three (as was the original plan anyway) would probably have been a smarter choice. Instead we got endless scenes of Alfrid being a dick and Bard not hitting him in the face and nothing ever comes of it. [Why was he such a focus in the first place?] Instead we got CGI battles that are neither exciting, nor fun – they just feel long. That’s especially aggravating because several times in the film I got the distinct feeling that something essential was lost on the cutting room floor (especially the ending with Thranduil and Legolas which came completely out of nowhere) (it was also badly written, so more preparation might not have helped necessarily).
The more substantial problem, though, is that I just don’t care for Thorin. As a character, as a person, as a plot device, as whatever. In my review of the second film, I mentioned that they moved away from brooding!Thorin to asshole!Thorin – which was actually an improvement. For the third film, Thorin becomes a brooding asshole for most of the time and I wanted to throttle him. I also wanted to throttle all the dwarves who go along with his fuckery, despite knowing that he is crazy, because royalty or something. [At least these royalist tendencies are very faithful to Tolkien.]
There were fun bits as well. Personally, I’m not a bagginshield shipper, but they must have a field day with that film since it made that ship pretty much canon*. And watching that canonization was fun even if you don’t ship them. Every second Lee Pace is on screen is precious anyway. I also loved the bit where Galadriel steps in (even if it didn’t really fit with the rest of the film, I thought), and most of the ways the film connects with Lord of the Rings.
But for the most part, I just didn’t care for the film. As cornholio put it: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies made it okay that we won’t get another film in Middle Earth (at least for a while). Maybe that’s a relief, but mostly it just lacks the bittersweetness of a fulfilling finish for a story you love.
*In case you haven’t fallen into the fanfiction hole, a translation:
Personally I don’t wish that Bilbo and Thorin were a couple, but I know people do and they must have loved the film, since it pretty much established a romantic relationship between the two on screen.