The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

And then it continued…

I never excelled at English during my GCSEs; I couldn’t tell the difference between a noun and a pro-nounce and I sure as hell couldn’t tell you how to adverb. What I do vaguely remember is that it was frowned upon to start a sentence with the word ‘and’.

And whilst I’d normally agree with that rule; there are a few occasions where it works – this sentence not included. I think this rule also applies to films, not just written literature, but this is exactly what the third hobbit does.

The film starts off in the middle of the battle between the humans and Smaug – the dragon under the mountain – as he lays waste to the nearby lake town of Esgaroth. The fact this film starts half way through an action sequence is probably the strongest evidence that this trilogy didn’t need to be drawn out over three films.

It’s a really odd thing to do and fucks the pacing of the film from the very start. Don’t get me wrong, the sequence is visually impressive and seeing Smaug raze the town is awesome in the classical sense of the word. After the fight everything slows right down as it builds towards the actual battle of five armies.

The Hobbit is actually one of the few books I have read that have been converted to film and the book has a similar pacing issue when Smaug is slain somewhere near the middle of the book and you are left thinking “oh?! is that it? I’ve still got 80 pages left though”. So when you are taking artistic license in the film by wedging in Lord of the Rings characters in order to link the 2 trilogies why not address this obvious pacing issue that is present in the book?

The fact that you are dropped into the film mid paragraph as it were also forces new comers to the series to be as lost as flight MH370. Why is this dragon wasting this town? why does he seem to know about the humans and some mountain? why is this dwarf injured and this other dwarf so moody? To be honest, I watched the first 2 films and I still struggled to put together what was happening for the first 10 minutes.

Thankfully the film doesn’t ever drag it’s heels. There is always something going on to progress the plot. It has all the hallmarks of it’s predecessors so you can expect some decent action scenes, it’s well shot, it has evocative soundtrack, big trolls, some quirky humour and most importantly it still has Ian McKellen as Gandalf.

One of the best parts in the film is the final battle between Azog and Thorin which is set on a frozen lake and provides an interesting landscape to end the bitter rivalry between the two. The sequence comes after about an hour long battle sequence which does start to get tiring towards the end.

If you take a holistic view the trilogy you can identify three distinct sections that could be trimmed to give two better, more focused films; the meeting at Bilbo’s house in the first film, the Benny Hill running away from Smaug in the second film and the final battle in the third film.

The characters and plot lines that have been shoe-horned into the film in order to link the two trilogies are actually fine in my eyes. Sure it doesn’t follow the book word for word but it arguably brings the cinematic universe together in a more coherent manner than the books did.

It’s a Peter Jackson high fantasy film based on a Tolkein novel. That’s almost all you need to know about this film. It follows the book slightly more closely than the second film but less so than the first. It certainly is good yet it doesn’t push the boundaries by doing anything particularly different. This may be a turnoff if you feel you have seen it before but if you love the previous films you’ll likely love this one.

Go See

  • Very well produced film
  • Entertaining action sequences
  • Links the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies

Avoid

  • If you haven’t seen the first 2 Hobbit films
  • Nothing particularly new
  • Could have been done in 2 films

Overall

3-5-stars

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