The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Posted December 20, 2014 by in


Total Score

1.5/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: fantasy
Director: Peter Jackson
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Actors: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage
Length: 144 minutes
Release Date: 12-17-2014
Studio: New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), WingNut Films, 3Foot7
What We Thought

The Middle Earth franchise has devolved into a commonplace special effects extravaganza, typical of the summer and winter seasons.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies hits the ground running.  Picking up from the second film’s cliff-hanger ending, the great and terrible dragon Smaug (voice of Benedict Cumberpatch) devastates the city of Laketown, setting the city ablaze from the sky with his fire-breath.  However, Bard (Luke Evans), a resident of Laketown, stands up to Smaug, armed with the last arrow that can pierce the dragon’s scales.
     This would have been the natural ending for the previous film,The Desolation of Smaug.  But they didn’t show the desolation of Smaug in The Desolation of Smaug.  Instead, it’s isolated from its build-up by over a year, and consequently, it’s not nearly as exciting, and as an opening, it’s the most awkward of any of the Middle Earth films.
     Now that Erebus, the home of the dwarves, is free of dragon infestation, the covetous armies of Middle Earth gather at the mountain stronghold, which is brimming with gold, gems and jewels.  The vast store of treasures drives Thorin Oakenshield, the king of the dwarves, mad with “dragon-sickness.”  Thorin turns his back on the refugees of Laketown, as a legion of Elvan forces arrives at his gates.
     But who are these dwarves who have reclaimed their home?  I wouldn’t know Kili from Fili or Bifur from Bofor.  They’re just names in the credits.  Death scenes are robbed of their weight because the characters are strangers to us.  Not once in the combined 330 minutes of An Unexpected Journey andThe Desolation of Smaug do they make you care about the characters up until this two-hour long, Transformers 4-esque climax movie.  The Middle Earth franchise has devolved into a commonplace special effects extravaganza, typical of the summer and winter seasons.
     During the battle, it’s often difficult to tell good guy from bad guy, Dwarf-warrior from Orcish soldier.  Much of the action is a blur, and the PG-13 rating hurts the battle scenes.  This should be bloodier.  Much bloodier.  As action-adventure movies go, the Orcs are the clumsiest fighters, falling down as easily as dominoes.  Consequently, they are not a credible threat.  What makes Sauron think he can win with these guys?  I’ve got to admit, though, that the final one-on-one fight between Thorin and Azog, the leader of the Orcs, is well choreographed.
     I screened the film in 3D, high-frame rate.  I hate to think that this is the direction cinema is going.  The frame rate emphasizes the “video” look.  It’s vivid, but harsh and unforgiving.  It looks ugly.  I’ve got video on my phone, what should be so special about these cameras?  Now, a 35mm film camera, that’s something not everyone has, but more and more, it’s a forsaken technology.  As for the 3D, Jackson doesn’t play to the format with any consistency.  You can either pay the surcharge for the glasses, or throw three dollars into the garbage.  It’s the same thing.
     The Battle of the Five Armies has a rushed paced, and when it’s all said and done, what’s the payoff?  The ending is nothing but death but without the satisfaction of sacrifice, no sense of something having been gained for all the loss.  It just ends.  And I’m glad it does. I’m all Hobbited-out.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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