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Movie Review – The Battle of the Five Armies

Peter Jackson completes his Hobbit trilogy with this year’s installment, The Battle of the Five Armies.  The best thing I can say about this movie is that it closes the wound.

TL;DR version – Save your money and rent this ponderous, bloated movie and watch it from the comfort of your home, if at all.  Seriously, you could get the same experience from reading The Hobbit, the Silmarillion, and a Harlequin romance.

Analysis (Spoilers Ahead)

The story opens where The Desolation of Smaug ended, with Smaug attacking Rivertown.  This scene takes about 15 minutes in the beginning of the movie, and it was the part I enjoyed the most.  Once Smaug is dead, the dwarves that stayed behind in Rivertown, at least in Jackson’s imagination, head over to Erebor, the Dwarven mountain.  There, they find Thorin quickly losing his mind because of “dragon sickness”.  A lot is made in the first 2/3 of the movie of Thorin going mad over his search for the Arkenstone and the horde of gold he now masters.

That is where I think Jackson really lost his way in this movie.  In the book, the final lesson is gained because once he has his treasure, Thorin becomes greedy and stubborn.  He suffers for this, eventually paying with his life in the war that he starts.  But in the movie, he’s just got “dragon sickness”, so it’s not his fault, and he can shrug it off and become a hero.  The simple, good lesson of a children’s story is lost because the makers of this movie trilogy had to add drama and make the fault for all the bloodshed not Thorin’s, but rather it was the gold itself that caused all of those people to die.

The rest of the story basically follows the plot of the last 50 pages or so of Tolkien’s book, with even more stuff, fluff, and cruft added in than in the other two movies.

I stand with what I said before: This should not have been a trilogy.  At most, two semi-long movies would have been enough to tell the story, even adding plot elements, both from Tolkien’s other writings and out of the ether.  This movie felt stretched beyond all measure.  It was repetitive, and if I hear the term “bred for war” one more time, I swear I will spit.  By the time the movie came to its climax, I was bored, and visiting the men’s room was more important than watching Thorin kill just one more orc.  The only good thing I can say about the story is that at least Jackson didn’t throw in a love scene between the made-up Elven warrior Tauriel and Kili.

The movie’s cinematography was both well done and predictable.  New Zealand is a beautiful country, and Jackson did an outstanding job knitting his story into the gorgeous settings he chose for filming.  CGI armies, which were revolutionary when done in “The Two Towers”, were augmented so much that they now seem comical.   In order to make Legolas look young and fresh, either Orlando Bloom was spackled to make his forehead seamless, or he had enough computer augmentation to make him look like something out of a video game.  In fact, I can say the same thing about most of the CGI close-ups of elves, orcs, goblins, and trolls in this movie.  CGI, when done well, should blend in with backgrounds and live-action actors.  Jackson did not accomplish this here.

Honestly, I don’t think I can recommend that others, especially those who have read Tolkien, pay theater prices to see this movie.  It should be a rental, or possibly a DVD purchase.  Even the cinematography isn’t worth the price of your ticket, because if you watched the other two Hobbit movies and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you’ve seen it before.

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2 Comments

  1. Corey

     /  December 30, 2014

    I think it will be better when the release the extended version seemed to me they left some stuff out. my favorite part was Dain and his army I would have like to see more of them fighting . And where the hell did those rams come from they were standing in the middle of a war already saddled? I the book Thorins company came out to fight in the best armor and great weapon in the movie it was like casual friday.

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    • Honestly, if he adds yet more cruft in an extended version it won’t be worth the money. He needs to edit this one a lot tighter instead of throwing yet another sweeping helicopter shot or close-ups of someone cutting an orc’s head off in an artistic manner.

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