“Hobbit” 3 boasts epic end but feels decent
The biggest problem I have with “Battle of The Five Armies” lies in the opening 10 minutes. At the end of “Desolation of Smaug,” the dragon Smaug is awoken from its perch on the mountain and swoops down as impending doom on the small village bellow. A whole year was waited to see this finally conclude and it does so quickly that we wonder what else is there to explore for The Hobbit. Well after much thought, the only thing I can see that was attempted to be the driving force is the treasure the beast leaves behind. But with so much attention to Smaug in the previous two films, it doesn’t feel much like a driving force when you look into it. But to my surprise, I didn’t walk out disappointed. This is part of the Lord of the Rings franchise. And if you really felt engaged in Bilbo’s journey, I’m sure you will have a good time. But as a stand-alone movie, that is when its faults start to show for me.
My biggest criticism throughout these three movies is that with so many characters and stories, that it can be hard to see what is the main focus. For Lord of the Rings, the center is the One Ring and there’s so much surrounding one thing that it feels connected to it. Here we go from Thorin’s greed to the elves trying to get revenge on the dwarfs for stealing their prized possessions to the Orcs trying to go after Throin for his head and then you have the people from the small village trying to regroup in this ghost town of a kingdom. In short, its all over the place. I feel like there is so much attention devoted to answering things for the Lord of the Rings movies while also setting up its mythology that it can be hard to endure. I can’t say its not that its information that affects the world of Middle-Earth but there’s only so much that can be set up or answered. I get the feeling Peter Jackson and his crew really wanted to tie up all the loose ends but sometimes less is more and it gets disappointing as ever open question comes to a close that is either satisfying or feels like it could have been stronger.
Bilbo (Martin Freeman) is placed to the background as again the focus is on the treasure and everyone who is connected to the dwarfs seeking payment for their debt or just straight up revenge. Its not that he doesn’t do anything as there are a couple of things he takes part in but for a trilogy called “The Hobbit,” you do wish there was more focus devoted to our main character. But from a different stand point, “Unexpected Journey” is on Bilbo, “Desolation of Smaug” is on the treasure and how it is affecting everyone and this one is more on the dwarfs as well as the mythology of Middle-Earth before “Fellowship of the Ring.” I’m not saying its a bad thing but with 2/3rds of the movie devoted to this massive battle, its a shame to see your central character reduced to just standing by or watching the chaos.
So it sounds this opinion is turning out to be negative? Well, not actually. There are elements that keep it being enjoyable. I do like the character arc of Thorin as he questions the greed that grows in him. There’s a really good scene later on where he’s walking on a floor of gold left from the previous movie where he contemplates the person he’s slowly becoming. Its well done and beautifully executed as he realizes there’s more to a mine full of gold. In fact, there’s a good handful of quiet moments in this movie that are well done like how Gandalf and Bilbo meet up after so much has gone on. Its not delivered in lines but a simple glance and a smoke. No words are needed. Just basic emotion.
And that is the key word here, emotion. This is not relying on story but more on the weight of these characters and how far they have come. This is the last trip into Middle-Earth so it does make sense to wrap things up. I do wish some elements were handled better but for the most part disappointment will be few. There are some times when it will get serious and times when it can be comedic when it needs to be. Ryan Gage’s performance as Alfrid is so exaggerated that it comes off enjoyable than be forced comedy as Lee Pace’s presence as Thranduil feels menacing to the point we wonder if he has any heart to him. To best describe this movie, its the opposite of what “Pirates of the Caribbean: At Word’s End” did. They set up to a massive battle that takes up the bulk of the film but what leads into is well paced. So it feels less like filler and more rewarding in the end.
I do wish “Battle of the Five Armies” was stronger in certain spots, but for a film series that kept building and building to a finale, it comes off decent. I’d recommend this one only for those who really felt engaged with the first two films and want to see it come to a fitting close. I’m positive you won’t be disappointed but a bit underwhelmed. Maybe if the first 10 or 15 minutes were tagged onto “Desolation,” it would be easier to see this as a film on its own and I can see it working that way with the focus on Thorin and the fate of the treasure. My only guess to why it begins that way is that audiences wouldn’t pay another movie ticket to an entry that feels like filler. There’s many theories but at least “Battle” didn’t fail as far as third movie sequels go. Not the best holiday movie but worth checking out if (and ONLY IF) you want to see how it all ends. For everyone else who was never big on The Hobbit or felt underwhelmed by its predecessors, might have to give this an unfortunate rent. But you have to agree, its beautiful shot knowing its Peter Jackson at the director’s chair and he’s resourced with the source material. So perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to see it after all…just on an IMAX screen.
Posted on December 18, 2014, in In Theaters (Sort of) and tagged An Unexpected Journey, Battle of the Five Armies, Bilbo Baggins, Conclusion, Desolation of Smaug, Final, Gandalf, Ian McKellan, Martin Freeman, Middle-Earth, Peter Jackson, Smaug, The Hobbit, Tolken, Trilogy, WETA, Wingnut Films. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.