By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy concludes with this often fun, occasionally thrilling, but somewhat padded movie that will certainly polarize fans of Jackson’s adaptations of J.R.R. Tokien’s Middle Earth series. I said it before and will probably say it again, but were three films necessary to adapt this one novel when the three Lord of the Rings books were made into three films, and great ones at that? The first installment, An Unexpected Journey, definitely runs too long and is heavily padded with material added to bring in elements from The Silmarillion and Jackson’s attempts to add more direct and unnecessary ties to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The second film, The Desolation of Smaug, offers the most satisfying film of the series as it contains the real meat of the novel and more fun and exciting moments, However, it still continues to build on that unnecessary subplot that Jackson and his writers want to lead into the LOTR trilogy. The Battle of the Five Armies offers a satisfactory conclusion to the trilogy, but definitely drags in moments and feels longer than it actually is. The ending comes more like a sigh of relief rather than an exciting and heartwarming celebration.
The Battle of the Five Armies picks up exactly where The Desolation of Smaug concludes. The dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) attacks Laketown while Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and the dwarves can only watch in dismay. Bard (Luke Evans) escapes from prison and attempts to stop the evil dragon. Having reclaimed the Lonely Mountain and its treasure, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), afflicted with Smaug’s dragon sickness, becomes filled with venomous greed and refuses to share his wealth with the Laketown survivors to help them rebuild. He also refuses to return a valuable treasure which rightfully belongs to the Elves. As tensions brew between the dwarves, humans, and elves and war is imminent, Azog (Manu Bennett) and his Orc army attack leading into the Battle of the Five Armies.
Written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo Del Toro, this concluding film certainly has its exciting and poignant moments, but also its dull and corny ones. I feel that Jackson and his writers wasted much time and energy including the Sauron subplot and his attempts to return. Having introduced the One Ring and the Gollum character in An Unexpected Journey, there really is no need at all to add any further ties to the LOTR trilogy. This extra material merely serves as extraneous padding and adds no real substance to the film. With as much unnecessary material added that this trilogy has, I’d hate to see what the extended versions have to offer.
The Hobbit novel could have properly been adapted into two movies as originally planned. Had Jackson and his writers been more efficient in their storytelling, a two part Hobbit adaptation without all the unnecessary fluff could have been exceptional. Granted, because the Hobbit novel pales in comparison to the extraordinary LOTR stories, any movie version of the Hobbit probably would have never outshined the Lord of the Rings films. That’s fine. The Lord of the Rings is Tolkien’s masterpiece and that’s how it should be. Still, as a fan of this universe, I had hoped that Jackson would have been less indulgent. As with the other Hobbit films, I recommend The Battle of the Five Armies for die hard fans of the stories, but casual viewers will probably be bored.