Five Armies an awkwardly excessive conclusion to tedious trilogy.
In an attempt to outdo itself, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and all its dazzling effects achieves little more than raking in the profits, inevitably coming off as overpowering and tedious.
Much like its previous installments, Peter Jackson’s third and final adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit gives its audience exactly what it promised: epic battles, eye-popping CGI, and all manner of mystical creatures, with just enough familiar faces thrown in to distinguish it as part of the original fantasy world.
Unfortunately, the filmmakers go a little overboard attempting to justify the lengthy trilogy as a necessary adaptation to the hundred-page book. It’s not surprising that the filmmakers seem to have stretched Tolkien’s text a little too thin, as they notably struggle with inventing subplots to fill the gaps.
Strangely, the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) who was anticipated to be one of the film’s main villains, is killed off long before the main conflict. Meanwhile, Bilbo (played with perfect bashfulness by Martin Freeman) and Thorin (Richard Armitage) hole up in the treasure-filled castle with a band of dwarves. Suddenly, it is as if every creature in Middle-earth has set their sights on the gold-filled mountain. The result is as though the creators decided to start throwing in every creature they could think of – mythical or not – seemingly in hopes that viewers would accept it as part of Tolkien’s original scheme. The chaotic mishmash is more distracting than enthralling, as dwarves, elves, orcs, goblins and humans, all mounted on an assortment of barnyard animals, slash away at each other without much acknowledgment of friend or foe.
Moreover, the central internal conflict of the film – grief-stricken Thorin’s struggling with his lust for gold – comes across as thinly motivated rather than poignant. It’s as if the writers wanted to excessively dramatize Thorin’s insanity, which ends up making him emotionally confusing. As a result, viewers might struggle with deciding whether or not to sympathize with him. It feels like the creators couldn’t decide either, and avoided the problem by having Thorin resolve his moral issues off-screen just in time to reappear and save the day.
Among all the raging battles, slow-motion close-ups of characters in various states of sobbing somehow make up a good quarter of the film. However, Jackson clearly rehashes old material, and fans of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy might begin to feel that they’ve seen this all before.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies manages to come off as routine in its visionary spectacle and fails to redeem the tedium of the first two. While Peter Jackson could not reach the bar set a decade earlier by his own hands, Five Armies is still entertaining despite its ridiculous length. Perhaps the best strategy for getting through the lengthy film is to completely disassociate oneself from the Middle-earth that Jackson’s first trilogy brought to life, because his second may have put it to death.