FilmReview

‘The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies’: A Riveting But Unnecessary Finale

George Huertas ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Aidan Turner and Richard Armitage in  The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. Photo Credit: Mark Pokorny/Warner Bros.
Aidan Turner and Richard Armitage in The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. Photo Credit: Mark Pokorny/Warner Bros.

So here we are. The final installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit franchise. While it ends in a suitably epic fashion, and while it succeeds admirably in connecting this to his Lord of the Rings franchise bringing the whole series full circle, there is a question that rings throughout the entire 144 minute runtime: Why did this series need to be three films?

Was Tolkien’s slim, 256-page novel simply too epic for one film? While grand, handsomely shot, and yes, at times riveting, there is a question as to whether or not the film truly should have been the third in a trilogy rather than the finale of one film.

Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lilly in The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. Photo Credit: Mark Pokorny/Warner Bros.
Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lilly in The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. Photo Credit: Mark Pokorny/Warner Bros.

Which isn’t to knock the quality of the final film otherwise. Certainly, the acting in this film is as top as it has ever been. Martin Freeman remains as charming and likable as ever as the titular hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, and Ian McKellan continues to enchant and mystify as Gandalf the Grey.

But it is Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield who truly carries the emotional brunt of the film. Having begun succumbing to Dragon Sickness, Thorin wears kingly robes and is fond of making dramatic proclamations and calls for war. Simultaneously, he is a man controlled by his paranoia, unsure of whom to trust and whom to mistrust as he continues his search for the Arkenstone.

Martin Freeman and Ken Stott in The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. Photo Credit: Mark Pokorny/Warner Bros.
Martin Freeman and Ken Stott in The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. Photo Credit: Mark Pokorny/Warner Bros.

This final film lacks, however, the emotional pull that the Lord of the Rings trilogy did. Many of the dwarf companions who accompany Bilbo feel less like characters and more like window dressing, there to emphasize the fantastical nature of the setting. While it would not have been necessary to flesh them out within one film or even a two-part series, over a trilogy the presence of the dwarves begins to feel more than a bit unnecessary.

However, the battle sequences, while occasionally overlong, are riveting, and the final shot of the film does manage to capture the same sense of whimsy felt in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it’s clear that Peter Jackson’s reverence for the material shines through above all else.

In the end, while competent, the film feels like a segmented part of a whole. More eagerly than any of the previous Hobbit films, I am eagerly awaiting the enterprising fan that decides to cut the entire trilogy into one shorter, better film.

Overall Grade: B-

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