With The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, director Peter Jackson has ended his trip through Middle-Earth with the third and final installment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novel.
As a lover of both Tolkien and Jackson, it pains me to say that this movie deserves strong “meh.”
This lukewarm response is due to the egregious amount of build-up without any significant follow-through. Throughout the entire 144-minute movie, it seems like every other scene has dramatic music, pauses and camera angles before a character would say something insignificant.
The worst example of this would be after Bard (Luke Evans) has slain Smaug, saved his people and been titled Master of Laketown. He stands in the midst of his broken-hearted followers as cameras shoot a close-up, music grows more intense and everyone in the movie theater scoots to the edge of their seats, eagerly waiting to hear Bard’s plan.
He merely says, “We make shelter.”
Despite all of the anti-climactic moments, however, there were a few things that Jackson did extremely well.
The storylines throughout the trilogy are a little shaky. Though Jackson is good about including every detail from the original story, he also tends to add original subplots and events that are unnecessary. However, in The Battle of the Five Armies he ties up a lot of loose ends with his subplots, including his love story between Tauriel (Evangeline Lili) and Kili (Aidan Turner). Their love story might have seemed unnecessary in The Desolation of Smaug, but in the end it adds helpful background to Legolas (Orlando Bloom), who appears in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Also in the interest of leading into the original trilogy, Jackson ends the movie with a tie-in to 2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring. Without giving away too much, the last scene was nostalgic, plot-thickening and cinematically perfect. Jackson’s use of a familiar cast was so well-played I barely knew what had hit me.
Casting for the LotR and Hobbit movies, like any other, must include grade-A performances. The cast in Battle of the Five Armies included highlights of returning actors alongside new ones.
Ian McKellen has rattled cages and warmed hearts in all six LotR/Hobbit movies as Gandalf. His grief and guidance have enthralled audiences for fourteen years as he’s helped hobbits, dwarves and elves alike throughout their quests in Middle-earth.
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins has been a perfectly awkward and lovable burglar throughout the franchise. His ability to portray the quirky and homesick hobbit one minute and then completely transform to a gutsy riddle master and thief was truly remarkable.
Although the The Battle of Five Armies (and arguably the entire Hobbit trilogy) did not live up to expectations, that might be more the viewers’ fault than Peter Jackson’s. A movie including that much action, thick plot and strong acting would do very well with an audience unfamiliar with the LotR universe. However, as a fan of the original triology, I can’t help blame Jackson for creating the worst of all six movies.