The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
It’s taken me a few days to really think about this movie and figure out what it is that I liked and didn’t like about the film, and the series of Hobbit movies as a whole.
Ultimately, I felt like I didn’t care enough about the events and the characters in this final instalment. Alfrid, a character who we saw far far too much of, should have been cut down several times during the movie. Instead, he continues to do his own thing, and screw over the people around him, only to end as the butt of a cross-dressing joke. Really? Then there is the battle itself. I didn’t care about the outcome. It mattered not a bit whether the elves crushed the dwarves or whether the orcs slaughtered everyone. It’s hardly the battle of Helm’s Deep. The stakes just weren’t there. Oh yeah. And the tactics were awful. Why did the orcs attack? They should have just waited for the elves and dwarves to kill each other first!
The Battle of the Five Armies just left me cold. Partly, this is due to the structure of the movies. In the book, the battle takes just five pages to depict. Here, the armies are bigger and it forms the bulk of the film.
Despite extending what should have been one film across three movies, the characters for the most part are very thinly drawn. For instance I know almost nothing about Bard except that he’s the human leader who took out Smaug. Oh yeah, and he has a family. This is somebody I should root for? All I really know about Kili is that he’s loyal to his king and is in love with an elf. Even Thorin Oakenshield’s death hardly feels tragic. Perhaps in part because they go so far with the dragon sickness idea. We don’t remember him as he was. That’s not where this movie picks up. So when Bilbo goes on about Thorin being his friend… well, it doesn’t mean a whole lot. Compared to the death of Boromir(who we only know for one film), his death hardly feels tragic. And while I can honestly say that I adored each and everyone of the fellowship of the ring, I cannot say I even remember most of the dwarves that make up the expedition. Truly, after three films, I can only recall the names of three of dwarves. Even Legolas seemed distant and off, both physically, since he and Tauriel disappear for much of the battle, and emotionally.
So what exactly did I enjoy about the film? I liked getting to see Galadriel be the badass that we have always been told she was. I also liked getting to see more of Saruman the White being heroic. That will make for a jarring change when we see what he later becomes. I did also adore Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins. He very much inhabits the role. Bilbo was the only truly fully drawn character. You felt his fear. His bravery. His lies, and the reasons for his lies. Why couldn’t more of the characters have this kind of depth?
Ultimately, The Hobbit films should be judged altogether, which makes me not the best person to do that, since I only ever watched each of the films once, on the cinema. From what I recall, An Unexpected Journey felt the most right tonally to The Hobbit. There was not a lot I really enjoyed in The Desolation of Smaug. Much of that film could have been jettisoned and fitted into one movie along with the events of The Battle of the Five Armies, which really should have been the climax of the film, rather than the majority of the story.
I think it’s fair to say then that the idea of splitting The Hobbit into three films was a failure. A cash cow perhaps, but a failure. This, coming from someone who owns and adores the extended cuts of the original LOTR trilogy. I say, rather than an extended edition of The Hobbit, lets see a shortened version, with all the fatty, unnecessary stuff taken out. That’s the movie I would rather watch.