The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Film Review
Praise be to the king under the mountain, this one clocks in at only just over two hours.
My whingey prayers have been answered.
TL;DR Thank God that it’s shorter. But that’s probably because there is almost no story left to tell, so we’ll have to settle for two hours of incredibly slick, if a little too polished, action sequences. But can you believe we now live in a world where there will never be a Peter Jackson-helmed Tolkien movie ever again? 3 out of 5 stars.
Is it possible to live without hope?
So this one picks up immediately where the last one left off, as Smaug descends to raze Laketown. And raze it he does, before Luke Evans slays him with that super arrow we saw last time. Now displaced, the surviving citizenry trudge on up to the city outside the mountain with the expectation that Thorin will hand over some of that gold he promised them so they can rebuild. Unfortunately, Thorin’s greed fever has become full-blown, and he says “nuh-uh.” Simultaneously, Queen Lee Pace brings an army of elves, Thorin summons an army of dwarves, and Azog summons two armies of orcs to lay siege to the mountain in pursuit of its riches. The good guys (see: anyone who isn’t an orc) band together to win the battle of the five armies, but at the cost of some of our heroes’ lives. Then Bilbo, having completed his journey, returns home to the Shire to lead in to the beginning of LOTR. Subplots include: Legolas getting every badass fight scene; the three hot dwarves (Thorin, Kili, Fili) being the only ones that die; Lee Pace learning to not be such a cock to his son; Galadriel, Saruman, and Elrond kicking Sauron’s arse to rescue Gandalf; and the eagles saving the day.
For all its conspicuous CGI, overused bloom lighting effects, and questionable takes on physics (Oh, Legolas), this, like the other Hobbit movies, is still a Peter Jackson-helmed Tolkien epic.
They’re missing the glamour and grandeur of their big brother trilogy, but by God, they’re still better than any other fantasy epic this decade. And probably for a decade to come.
They’re not as magical as The Lord of the Rings. But that doesn’t mean they’re not magic.
Why I hate this movie:
I’ll tell you what isn’t magic, though: this instalment’s plot. The impetus for the conflict in this one can be boiled down to “Thorin is a d-bag; none of the other thirty-seven dwarves do much to stop him from being a d-bag; interracial warring ensues.”
And who knew that all it would take for Thorin to overcome his war-inducing money madness was for him to decide to, like, get over it or something. Maybe you should have considered getting over it a little bit sooner.
The greatest detriment to The Battle of the Five Armies is just how slick it is. Every action sequence feels polished to within an inch of its fantasy life. The obvious culprit would be the entire sequence between Legolas and Bolg (the leader of the second orc army), which involves Legolas first knocking down a decrepit tower to somehow form a moderately stable bridge between two cliffs. And then they fight on it as it crumbles, and Legolas at one point hops up some mid-air, falling bricks to stay alive. I mean, we know Legolas must survive, but how am I supposed to feel any tension when he literally can’t put a foot wrong?
Lee Pace’s elk mount is also a hugely conspicuous, CGI monstrosity. Yeah, it’s cool and unusual. But it’s so jarring.
Luke Evans’ cart charge against a troll to save his kids is also annoyingly CGI.
Of course, the only three of the fifty-two dwarves to die are the three attractive ones. Rude.
Lee Pace throws some awkward fanservice (and not the sexy kind, sadly) our way when he suggests that Legolas go and watch over this promising young Ranger called Strider. Ooh. Lame.
His motivation for coming to fight over the treasure pit is pretty weak: he wants to get some elf jewellery that is apparently among it all. Really, queen?
Billy Connolly is the leader of Thorin’s dwarf reinforcements. But in voice only, as his character is a CGI creation that sticks the fuck out. Weird.
Oh, and I was sad when Smaug died. He was a much more fabulous villain than Azog or Bolg.
But it’s not all bad:
He makes his small amount of screen time count, though, as he fucking obliterates Laketown. And he ends up grandstanding too much, which is how Luke Evans gets enough time to steady the shot that kills him. Smaug died doing what he loved: being flaming.
Some of the action set pieces may be saturated in CGI and tower-as-a-bridge-level improbable, but goddamn, they look good. Special mention has to go to Thorin and Azog’s duel to the death on a frozen river. Azog’s weapon is a cement block on a chain, which acts like an anchor. So you can guess how Thorin eventually brings him undone.
Azog isn’t one to be beaten by a little drowning, though, as he floats up under the ice Thorin is standing on, stabs Thorin through the foot, and continues the duel. It only ends when Thorin realises the tactical advantage of suffering a mortal stab, which he does, so he can flip Azog and finish him off.
Bilbo arrives just in time to catch his bro dying. Later, when he’s back in the Shire, Bilbo mourns heavily for Thorin. The shippers would love that.
The other action highlight of the movie is the rescue of Gandalf from Sauron’s grasp. Galadriel comes in first, then Saruman and Elrond swoop in to lay some pain on ghostly visages of the Nazgul that attack. It’s ridiculously awesome. And I mean that.
Galadriel then goes Dark Mode and absolutely wrecks Sauron’s shit, forcing him away to Mordor.
Lee Pace struts around on his fancy elk, and also manages to roll quite a few orc heads. #slay
Tauriel doesn’t get to do much except watch her beloved Kili get impaled, but she does end up convincing Lee Pace that her love for Kili was genuine. And Legolas sticks up for her, too. It’s sweet.
The ladies of Laketown defy their order to hide from battle and take up arms to join their men on the battlefield. Girl power!
Oh, and the movie ends as the dialogue from the scene between Gandalf and Bilbo from The Fellowship of the Ring plays. Such nostalgia.
It doesn’t have much to say, but it is (for one of these movies) mercifully short. At least it didn’t jam us with the endless epiloguing that Return of the King did. And as Peter Jackson’s last, Middle Earth hurrah, it is adequate. I’ll miss you, Queen Lee. 3 out of 5 stars.