The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Movie Review
The third and final movie in The Hobbit trilogy-that-shouldn't-have-been-a-trilogy is here, and it has all the CGI swordplay, punching and head-butting you didn't ask for. What should have been the best of the three if for no other reason than actually having a conclusion is, somehow, the worst--but maybe that's just because Peter Jackson's recycled efforts have grown ever more tiresome in the 10 years since he won Best Director for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
This third movie dives right into the action, with the dragon Smaug unleashing fiery hell upon the poor village that is inconveniently made of wood and located in the middle of a lake, with nowhere to hide. Within 10 minutes, Smaug is killed--which finally gives you the climax you were hoping for from the second movie.
Then the rest of the movie happens, and it is based on the least interesting and most forgettable part of the book. A bunch of different armies--humans, elves, Orcs, dwarves and more Orcs--descend on the now-abandoned, treasure-filled mountain, resulting in an epically long battle sequence that is significantly less exciting, interesting and meaningful than any battle that occurred in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Despite my disinterest in watching the previous two Hobbit movies again, I didn't hate them; while overly long and tedious, they were generally entertaining. But with this third and final The Hobbit movie--titled The Battle of the Five Armies--I realized just how over I am with Middle Earth, Peter Jackson and his tired antics.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies has everything you've come to expect from his movies--long, panning scenes of people running mountainsides, small bands of badass warriors taking on thousands of larger, stronger enemies without a care in the world, and lots of bickering--only none of it is as good as the time before.
The characters play like caricatures of themselves; Gandalf (Ian McKellan), despite being 100 years younger than he was in The Lord of the Rings, acts like a confused, creepy old man most of the time; Legolas (Orlando Bloom) once again lacks the energy he had in the original trilogy; and Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman)... well, Peter Jackson apparently forgot that he is the title character.
Thankfully, Jackson devotes a lot more time to two of the most obnoxious characters to ever walk Middle Earth--Alfrid (Ryan Gage), who apparently is Peter Jackson's answer to Jar-Jar Binks (read: fucking annoying while offering no value to the story whatsoever), and Thorin (Richard Armitage), who spends most of the movie jerking off to his newfound gold while being a complete douchebag to his friends and allies.
Thorin has to be one of the worst characters ever written; he acts like he has been consumed by the Ring of Power, but his paranoid obsession is never explained--at least not adequately. Jackson also attempts to develop the painfully bad relationship between the Hot Dwarf (Aidan Turner) and Hot Female Elf (Evangeline Lilly), but to believe their love requires you to have believed in--or remembered--their awkward mutual attraction from the previous film.
But character issues aside, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, is just a tiring exercise in redundancy. The movie has plenty of action, and if you thoroughly enjoyed the previous two Hobbit movies, you'll probably enjoy this one, too. But watching a bunch of CGI creatures slam into each other, thwunk each other with swords and duke it out in true bloodless fashion gets old real quickly. A few scenes are laughably bad, such as when slow-motion Legolas defies gravity while escaping a crumbling bridge--further emphasizing how goofy Jackson's efforts have become.
And the Eagles. Those fucking Eagles.
Despite all its flaws, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies isn't without its entertaining moments. When Jackson narrows his focus to battles between a few key individuals, he manages to raise the tension just enough for things to be entertaining.
But really, let's just rejoice in the fact that The Hobbit trilogy is finally over.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.