Film: The Hobbit – Battle of the Five Armies

I bought the DVD of this when it first came out over a month ago, and have watched it four times now, and been preparing this review for some time. The film opens with Smaug’s attack on Lake Town. There is no preamble, and no explanation. If you have not seen (and remembered) the ending of the Desolation of Smaug, then you’re not going to be up to speed as to what is going on. the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies-poster-688x10241 Bard, his family and Tauriel are all well played. Bard using the Black Arrow to shoot Smaug. Downside – why and how does he spot Smaug’s weak spot on the dragon’s underside ? Where is the thrush as in the book, whispering this litle secret in his ear ? A missed opportunity. The oily Mastern of Laketown gets his just rewards – a little too quickly, and Alfrid his sidekick gets to survive too long, though his utter cowardliness lends a touch of humour – you just know he is going to snivel out of any work. That said, it starts storing up parallels with the LOTR’s Wormtongue. The battle between the White Council (never AFAIK specified in the film), versus the Ringwraiths and Sauron in Dol Guldur is a good if formulaic CGI fest. Did Elrond, Saruman and then Rhagast just turn up on a whim ? Why not make it explicit that its an effort by them to get rid of the Necromancer (and for him to be revealed as Suaron). Meanwhile in the mountain, the scenes where Thorin starts losing the plot, is in keeping with the err…plot ! Bilbo’s indecision is well played, but how come the Elven bowmen didn’t spot Bilbo exiting the mountain to deliver the Arkenstone to Gandalf, Bard and Thranduil ? Maybe there is a scene with him using the ring to escape notice. Banner22 So the Elves and Dwarves are facing off against each other with The Big Yin voicing the CGI version of Dain on a porker, when up pops Azog and his army that have been transported in secret by rock munching wyrms…which everyone has forgotten about…and don’t seem to be able to burrow into the Lonely Mountain itself (eh?!). The set piece battle scenes are eerily reminiscent of the LOTR – The Return of the King, especially the bit where the Orcs storm into Dale to massacre the human civilians. This is boring, even if there are some nice set piece scenes. Thorin finally decides he has a pair, and leads an attack out of the mountin as per the book, but then sets off on an assaination quest to kill Azog. This has lots of worthy scenes but is overly long, and ends in Thorin’s death not totally in keeping with the book – close enough though. Meanwhile the Eagles and a criminally under represented Beorn turn up and trash the second Orc army that has done a march faster than a bunch of British Paras yomping over the Falklands. There is then, a very truncated farewell scene between Bilbo (who he ?) and the survivors of the original company of Dwarves. This is topped off with a much better scene at Bag-End when Bilbo returns to find his belongings being auctioned off. At least the Sackville-Bagginses get a look in. You’ve probably guessed I was not overly impressed with this movie, as it deviated too far from the book and has many plot holes and missed opportunities. As a stand alone film, it really is not good. As an adaptation of the book, it is very wanting. It has many very good scenes with good dialogue, but it has way too much padding, and CGI panoramas that are too reminiscent of LOTR films. Bilbo, and several of the Dwarves in aprticular are under represented in this film. The entirely spurious Tauriel/Fili romance could be excised and make no difference to this film, and make room for some of the more salient points of the plot. As part of the series of films it is good. There are lots of snippets of footage on the ‘net, and pictures from missing scenes that will go someway to filling in the missing bits of this story – so the inevitable extended version of the film will be something I will be looking forward to. Overall, Jackson has done a good job at bringing Middle-Earth to the silver screen. But you have to put up with a lot of padding in the three Hobbit films which is a shame – so a very qualified positive review.

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