The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Director: Peter Jackson

Starring: Ian McKellan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom

Rated: PG-13 (extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images)

Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the Lonely Mountain from falling into the hands of a rising darkness.

 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

By Matt Greene

Jackson’s a good filmmaker, able to handle big emotional stories with style and care like a renowned chef (Heavenly Creatures, LOTR trilogy). However, if LOTR was a luxurious entree, The Hobbit is a cheap, fast-food dessert…it’s tasty at times, but it won’t sustain and definitely isn’t needed. The trilogy completely loses what little bit of identity it had in this, its final installment. In what isn’t really a stand-alone film as much as a filler section of a bad miniseries, Battle… is a couple cool moments in an otherwise weak narrative.

We find our crew reunited back in their mountain-home, suddenly realizing they must defend it against those who want the mountain themselves….but wait a minute. Where did all this new conflict come from? Weren’t we just trying to get the mountain back from Smaug? Even Bilbo himself says, “Your quest is fulfilled, is that not enough?” Yes, it is. Too bad no one told Jackson. Now we’re forced into a third chapter full of contrivances, coincidences, and a really bad romance. Maybe its biggest downfall is not utilizing its strength, Martin Freeman; given criminally little to do, he does his best to bring naturalism and personality to the proceedings, but gets lost in the hubbub.

There ARE positives: Jackson’s eye for cinematography, unique fights, and horror-like visuals help when front-and-center. If only they weren’t covered in atrocious cgi. Desolation of Smaug had me hopeful that we were returning to the glory days of LOTR. Sadly, Battle… lost that spark and instead feels just plain tedious.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

By Cole Schneider

Remember the majesty of “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King”? It was an altogether fitting end to the journey of one hobbit. “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is the knock-off brand. All the elements are there: epic battle, political purpose, high stakes; yet this tale is remarkably dull. There are three foundational reasons for this: the visuals, the characters, and the storytelling.

A large part of what drew audiences to Middle Earth the first time was the stunning visuals. The LOTR trilogy employed practical effects when possible and looked remarkable. The Hobbit trilogy, and particularly this chapter, is an abysmal CGI recreation. The titular battle feels like a two hour WWE wrestling match between cartoons.

The Hobbit was always going to have a hobbit protagonist, but Thorin, Tauriel, and Alfrid, among others are direct copies of LOTR characters. Others–Gandalf, Legolas, Sauron–are literally the same. Yet others such as Radagast, Bard, and Thranduil are new, but terribly uninteresting. Gone are characters with any complexity.

Peter Jackson has managed to disrupt the flow of one small book by splitting it into three long money-mongering movies, and the third chapter doesn’t have anything to say–at least not beyond a warning against greed which the filmmakers themselves haven’t heeded. Beyond that, the tone is all wrong. The Hobbit would be much better served as a kid’s adventure story than a self-serious LOTR prequel.

Jackson set this film up to lose from the beginning. He has handled long battle scenes well before, but two hours with characters you don’t care about and distracting visual effects are more than he has the skill to cover for.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

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