Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Luke Evans, Richard Armitage, Lee Pace and Ian McKellen
Peter Jackson has been at this for a long, long time now, and finally it comes to it’s end. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (The Hobbit: BOTFA) isn’t quite the ending the iconic film franchise really deserved, yet it’s not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. It’s an epic battle that starts off in flames and ends with a nice and successfully done lead into the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
The Hobbit: BOTFA starts where The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ended. Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and the Dwarves watch from the Lonely Mountain as Smaug sends Lake Town up in flames, He is however, rather brilliantly defeated by a very well placed black arrow from none other than Bard (Luke Evans).
What ensues is an epic battle, which starts off between Thorin (Richard Armitage), who is now suffering from gold sickness and believes that the Dwarves’ gold should not be shared, and a combination of Bard’s survivors from Lake Town and Thranduil’s (Lee Pace) elves, who both feel that they have claim to the treasures in the Lonely Mountain. Things start to become worse when Azog and his blood-thirsty group of Orcs enter the mix, bent on destroying everything that stands in their way of claiming the Lonely Mountain.
The Hobbit: BOTFA has incredible set pieces. It’s starts of, as mentioned above, with a fantastic scene where Smaug sends Lake Town up in flames. This scene is visually stunning, however, being at the beginning of the film is a problem in itself, because it means that everything that follows it feels a bit secondary.
Having said this, the battles that follow are suitably well-directed and brilliantly choreographed. Everything looks stunning, barring the occasional wonky looking CGI monster. All this is fine apart from the fact that it never gets close to that sense of sheer brilliance of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’s brilliant Battle of the Black Gate.
One of the main problems The Hobbit films have, is that they are constantly having to live up to what went before them, therefore are constantly being compared to The Lord of the Rings films. This is slightly unfair because if you take each Hobbit film individually, they are still well-directed, well crafted pieces of filmmaking, full of spectacle, brilliant acting and compelling characters and themes.
The other problem with The Hobbit: BOTFA is that it is the finale of a trilogy of films which could, and probably should, have been wrapped up in two films. Due to the lack of material the Hobbit really has to offer, everything feels stretched out, which means that unnecessarily long individual fight scenes were added, and utterly useless character were bundled in. Does Orlando Bloom’s Legolas need to be in the films at all? Does he add anything to the continuation of the plot? The short answer is no, he doesn’t. The same could be said about Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel, who wasn’t even in the books, she is a mere creation of Peter Jackson’s, to apparently give the films a certain feminine edge. She ends up being a very clichéd character who adds very little.
Despite all of these flaws, one can’t help but be impressed by the incredible scale of The Hobbit: BOTFA. Peter Jackson knows how to direct epic battle scenes. Intertwined with Martin Freeman’s ever impressive portrayal of Bilbo Baggins and an excellent supporting cast; including, but not limited to: Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage who puts in another fine performance as the leader of the Dwarves Thorin. The Hobbit: BOTFA is really Thorin’s movie. Richard Armitage does a truly sensation job of portraying a Dwarf in the clutches of what is dubbed as ‘gold sickness’.
Overall, The Hobbit: BOTFA, does have it’s flaws, yet it is a fitting end to a truly remarkable franchise. What other franchise can boast such a fine selection of films. Peter Jackson has consistently delivered entertaining, awe-inspiring, creative and visually stunning movies, and this is no exception. Yes it may be considered to be the ‘worst’ film in the Middle Earth saga, yet that’s not saying it’s a bad movie.
The Hobbit: BOTFA is a fond and teary eyed farewell to Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth, which he has served so well, over so many years.