After watching ‘The Hobbit’ films so far (‘An Unexpected Journey’ and ‘The Desolation of Smaug’), I’ll be brutally honest and say I have been disappointed by them and felt Peter Jackson had lost some of his spark. The trilogy seemed to have been puffed out into this unnecessary 6 hour plus extravaganza from a short children’s story. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy is one of the biggest and greatest achievements in cinema history, and I adore them, yet ‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy isn’t quite in concurrence with it’s predecessor.
That being said, the final installment ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ is the best to date, but it still carries the same feel as the previous films: chaotic and frankly, a bit tiresome. Despite this, I can’t help but still love ‘The Hobbit’ films and have a soft spot for them. ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ marks the end of an era and Peter Jackson’s obsession that spanned across 2 decades.
The film starts with how ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ finished, with Smaug the Dragon flying to wreak havoc on Laketown, a sequence that is a bit confused and scattered, yet still allows for Bard (Luke Evans) to be the hero, his children to repeat the only line they have in the film (“Da!”) and for the magnificent Smaug to speak again (a highlight of the trilogy, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). Once this is done, the 2 hour battle sequence begins, with Dwarves, Elves, Men, Orcs and Eagles, joined by Wizards, a Shapeshifter, more Dwarves, more Orcs and a brave little Hobbit transforming into fighting mode, all set against the backdrop of the Lonely Mountain and the Dwarf kingdom of Erebor. Admittedly, the battle sequences are wild but aren’t tiresome and the huge set pieces actually kept me interested, showing different storylines and points of view of each army.
Something Jackson does really well is character development and something I was thrilled with was the casting. Martin Freeman is a welcome relief amongst the chaos as Bilbo Baggins, popping up to provide a new point of view of the battle and is the common sense behind some of it. Ian McKellen is always brilliant as his long running character Gandalf, protector of Middle Earth. I’m hugely impressed with the casting of Dwarf King Thorin Oakenshield, Elven King Thranduil and Leader of Men Bard the Bowman played by newcomers Richard Armitage, Lee Pace and Luke Evans respectively and all three hold their own against each other and other actors. The portrayal of how Thorin descends into madness or “dragon sickness” over the treasure of Erebor and the Arkenstone is something that I thought Jackson did very well, staying true to the book and was excellently acted by Richard Armitage.
However, I could have done without the annoying comic relief provided by cowardly Alfrid (Ryan Gage), and the ridiculous love story between Elf Tauriel (who was written into the series by Jackson, played by Evangeline Lilly) and young Dwarf Prince Kili (Aidan Turner).
It’s not as emotional as I thought it would be, the battle sequences are not as epic and the conclusion is a bit underwhelming. Oh and Legolas’ stunts become more and more ridiculous each film. But all in all, ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ marks a gallant effort and the end of a trilogy overshadowed by ‘The Lord of the Rings.‘ Comparison aside, ‘The Hobbit‘ films have been enjoyable, bold, colourful and fun to watch and it is a strong send off to a series that has captivated myself and so many. But does anyone believe Peter Jackson when he says it’s really over? I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a draft script hidden away somewhere for the Silmarillion…