Well, some of you might remember my review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, so it is only a matter of time before I reviewed the third Hobbit movie with The Battle of Five Armies. I’m going to start by saying that the Hobbit movies got progressively worse, but at least that it didn’t get terrible.
Here’s the biggest issue that I have with this movie. Most films follow a three-act structure, with the third act being the big climactic action scene. The Battle of The Five Armies starts with a climactic action scene, and then becomes the the climactic action scene for the entire trilogy, taking up the last two or so hours.
This isn’t to say that the action scenes aren’t great. I have to admit the opening scene where Smaug is killed is pretty scary. I don’t think that is too much of a spoiler, as the second film set it up for that. In fact, that second movie just drew out the battle with the dwarves and the dragon, ending with this over-the-top scene with a giant gold statue melting. What…the…Fudge?
Seeing a dragon destroy a city and then brag about it, saying that he is going to kill the dragonslayer’s son is pretty awesome. Most fantasy stories end this way, but leave it to Tolkien to break fantasy conventions and start new ones. In this case, the dragon has a lot of treasure, and everyone wants it.
This is where the Battle of Five Armies comes in. The Dwarves want it for themselves because Smaug did take a dwarf kingdom, hello? The humans think they are entitled to it because the dragon destroyed their city, and a human did slay Smaug. The elves want it because they think they deserve it for some odd reason. Then the Orcs want it because they are evil, I guess. As for that fifth army, I think it is…the Eagles?
Anyway, from here, the film is all about big fight scenes with massively large armies. Now, one of the things that I loved about the original The Lord of the Rings trilogy was because it was full of battles of large armies, but back then, it was new and awesome. Now it is easier to do it, and it has become possible to actually get sick of it.
The film also has some impossible physics. I mentioned in the second film that there is a scene where an arrow blocks another arrow, a scene that is so stupid that it took me a few minutes to figure out how stupid it was. There is a similar scene where Legolas runs on some bricks as they are falling, and it looks like something out of a Super Mario Brothers game.
Keep in mind, the actual Battle of the Five Armies in the book was covered in a few pages, with only a description of the casualties. I have no idea if Tolkien deliberately minimized what would be an epic scene, or he just had to cut it short because he was going to miss a deadline. I mean, after the dragon was killed the rest is simply epilogue. Which is why this movie doesn’t work, because the whole movie is one epilogue.
Worse yet, the main issue is still not settled by the end of the film. They are all fighting over the treasure, which is revealed to be cursed gold. If it is cursed, then there should be a scene where they blow up the ancient dwarf kingdom, sealing the treasure forever. If the gold isn’t cursed, shouldn’t they all separate it into equal piles, or something, as part of the armistice treaty? Instead, there is nothing in the film, not even a voiceover, saying what happened to the treasure!
Okay, I realize that I’m saying all the negatives, but there are some positives. It is interesting to see that even though this film has far too much going on, it still takes time to focus on his main its main character, Bilbo. He tries to do the best he can in his given situation, but sometimes, badness happens and there is just nothing you can do.
Sadly, this film did not end with a smooth dovetail into The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I don’t see any need not to spoil this film, as you really should have seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy. As Channel Awesome’s Sage has said, prequels have never worked because we already know how the story ends. In this case, the set up doesn’t work with The Fellowship of the Ring.
You see, at the end of The Battle of Five Armies, Gandalf tells Frodo that he knows he has a ring that can make him invisible. Frodo doesn’t deny it, but he lies and says that he lost the ring. If that were the case, then wouldn’t Gandalf have confronted Frodo about this at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. Instead he says, “there are many great rings of power, and none are to be used lightly” and not “I thought you told me that you lost that ring, you liar”.
Wow, I can’t believe how little positive that I had to say about this movie. Yeah, I might not see it anytime again, but it is sadly what the movie-going public wants: action connected to a proven franchise.