And so we come to the end of the Hobbit trilogy. For some book purists, this might be a relief, as the changes Peter Jackson made to the original children’s story were far more controversial then the ones made in his epic Lord of the Rings trilogy. For others however, like myself, it’s bittersweet. All good things must come to an end of course, but the fact that this may very well be the last time we get absorbed into Jackson’s vision of Middle-Earth is a pretty sad thought to bare. On the other hand, seeing the story come to a conclusion is still satisfying. And hey, we’ve still got the extended edition to look forward to!
The third Hobbit film kicks off right where 2013’s “The Desolation of Smaug” left off, with Smaug making his way towards lake town to reek havoc. I was surprised that tie film jumped right in so quickly, with very little build up. And no prologue!? That’s a first for this franchise. Nevertheless, it’s still an effective intro and one of the most memorable moments of the film. Shortly after the stunning opening sequence, the majority of the film deals with the battle of the five armies, with a subplot involving Gandalf and the white council taking on the Necromancer (whom we now know is none other then the Dark Lord Sauron himself) This subplot doesn’t take up too much time, but it was still impressive, and it’s a nice way to link the Hobbit storyline with the Lord of the Rings. Without giving away spoilers for those who haven’t read the book, the rest of the movie is battles, battles and preparing for battles. Don’t worry though, this is no Michael Bay film folks. while the film is very action heavy, it doesn’t forget to keep the focus important on the characters rather then the action surrounding them. Having said that, when the film does focus on the action, it’s very well choreographed and staged. No one shoots an epic battle scene like Peter Jackson and crew.
I do have a few issues with the film sadly. First and foremost, Bilbo’s screen time is less satisfying then I would’ve liked. Don’t get me wrong, Bilbo’s in the movie quite a bit, and he does play an important role, but there are times when the script seems to forget about him entirely, and there are long stretches of the film that are relatively Hobbit-free, and that can be disappointing. Many of the dwarves don’t get much to do for the majority of the film either, but I think one of the biggest offenders for a lack of screen-time is BEORN. The shapeshifting man that can turn into a bear from the last movie makes an appearance in the final battle..for about five or ten seconds, and then we never see him again. While I have faith that the extended edition will fix this, it was nothing short of disappointing to see this beloved characters not get the treatment he deserved (in the theatrical cut at least). My final issue with the film is it’s length. Being not only the shortest of the trilogy, but the shortest of all six of the Peter Jackson middle Earth films, The movie definitely felt short to me. Once again however, the Extended edition will most likely fix this flaw as well.
Let’s get back to the positives. the soundtrack once again a triumph. All of the Hobbit films have had great soundtracks, and this film is no exception. The ending song, preformed by Billy Boyd (Pippin) is a emotional and heartwarming, and a perfect note to end on with this trilogy. When Bilbo finally gets to appear onscreen, Martin Freeman once again nails the role. Making Bilbo easily one of the best and most endearing protagonists I’ve seen in a while. Returning characters like Gandalf, Smaug and Saruman are also in top form, and Thorin’s character goes through a startling change throughout the film, and becomes almost a tragic Shakespearean figure as the film progresses. I also enjoyed how the film bridged the gap between the story of the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings towards the end. I won’t spoil how, but it was really well done.
As you can see, the Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is kind of a bittersweet ride. I certainly wouldn’t call it underwhelming though, as it features some of the most impressive scenes of the trilogy, such as Smaug’s attack on lake town, The Necromancer battle, and some of the quiet character moments that we all know and love from this series. Out of the three Hobbit films, I still say the first one, “An Unexpected Journey was my favourite. I’m hoping that my problems with the film will be fixed in the Extended edition, but as it is, The Battle of the Fives Armies ends the trilogy on a good note, and I can safely say that I’m happy the Hobbit was a trilogy, especially since we got such high quality adventure from all three works. To finish this off, take a listen to Billy Boyd’s wonderful song from the film. In the words of The film;
“I bid you all a very fond farewell”