I took my last trip to Middle-Earth this last weekend. Seeing the conclusion The Hobbit trilogy was satisfying mostly just to see it end. In many ways I want this film to be spectacular. It is the last time we’ll see Middle-Earth for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, while it had it’s failings it still had its merits. First, lets get the worst out of the way.
As I have said in the past, I look at a movies as a standalone features. Meaning with movies based on books I essentially ignore the text. I do this because the movie will never measure up to the book. It might come close but even the best director can’t compete with your imagination. Plus, I don’t have to deal with how it diverged from the book which has no bearing on the quality of the film.
Now that we have that out of the way. My first problem started with the editing. I honestly felt like I was watching a Michael Bay film at times. It seemed when ever drama needed to be added, slow-mo was apparently the way to convey that. It got to the point where it was annoying. At times it even sucked me out of Middle-Earth, especially where it wasn’t needed. Thankfully, they left most of the battle scenes unaffected reserving it for those one on one encounters.
As I’ll get to next, Peter Jackson inserted some additional subplots to help expand the narrative. Not a bad idea but the editing reflected a very disjointed story. We would get scenes wedged in that seemed out of place. This called into question their relevance to the main plot. After all, the subplots should feed into the main plot so we get this big pay off in the final act.
My biggest problem with this trilogy is that it is a trilogy. Now I know I try not to reference the book, here it is slightly important. The book lays out the basic story for Peter Jackson to follow. He did for the most part but the story itself wasn’t big enough for three films. Their were subplots from the greater mythos that were pulled in to try and fill it out but this mostly failed. Ultimately what I am leading up to is that the big final battle didn’t have much build up.
When you look at the timeline, the final battle really seemed rush. The five armies seemed to just appear when the time was needed. I chalk this up to the organization of the three films. The first film could stay largely the same. My only suggestion would be to shorten the goblin kingdom scene and end the film with our dwarven heroes at Beorn’s cottage. The second film would pick up immediately where the first left off. Again, it would stay largely the same but it would end a little differently. It would end with Smaug plummeting to earth after getting shot by Bard. I would also cut out a little of both mountain chase scenes. This would allow for the third film to dedicate more time to setting up this big final battle. To build up to it and give the audience the big pay off we want.
My final gripe with Battle of the Five Armies is with certain scenes. I’ll only point out a few for the sake of time but we’ll see how well that goes. First comes with the pay off scene with the whole dwarve/elf love triangle going on. It comes to ahead when Tauriel, Kili, and Legolas engage in battle with the “I learned how to armor myself from a Saw movie” orc. In what should have been a confirmation of love between Kili and Tauriel, we see Kili killed and Tauriel basically thrown aside. Legolas then begins to well, lay his brand of Legolas justice on him.
To be clear, my problem here is not that Kili was killed. My problem is that we have a budding relationship, that felt forced anyways, ripped from completion without a satisfying conclusion. Wouldn’t it be more satisfying to see Tauriel kill our Saw inspired Orc? That’s at the very least the revengeful ending we deserve. Speaking of relationships.
The other big scene that troubled me was Thorin’s grapple with gold fever. I get whats going on but it pulled me away from the film rather than pull me into his psychosis. I mean by the end, Thorin get’s swallowed by the gold floor. Wouldn’t that technically mean he succumbed to his madness? Instead the next scene is of him finally putting his insanity aside. Trying to include this trippy peak inside of Thorin’s head seemed out of place. I’m not sure why we couldn’t have just seen Thorin step over the line and realize how fare he was gone.
With the bad out of the way, lets take a look at the good. Hands down the best part of this film were the performances. My favorite three were Martin Freeman (Bilbo), Luke Evans (Bard), and Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel). While not new to the acting scene, these three have been gaining some momentum thanks to their performances. With Martin returning to Sherlock, Evangeline joining the MCU, and Luke on to The Crow, they are definitely on the verge of exploding.
The Battle of the Five Armies can best be summarized on a macro level. Meaning, the closer you look the worse it gets. Even just one level of magnitude down the inconsistencies begin to show. If you’ve watched the other adventures in Middle-Earth, then go see it. At the very least you’ll have a film that just makes you angry.