The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies is certainly an enjoyable ending to the trilogy, but it is not without some glaring flaws. The film is jammed with action and truly epic moments, which in IMAX 3D at 48fps looks astounding. Smaug’s destruction of Lake Town and the White Council’s showdown with Sauron are worth splashing out on alone. However, because these two opening sequences are so exciting and intense, the bar is set too high, and the rest of the scenes feel less impressive as a result. The titular battle fills the majority of the runtime and does enough to sustain interest. While the combat is exciting, Jackson’s decision to rely on CGI over live actors for the orcs just doesn’t give the action the same quality it had in the LOTR trilogy.
Yet it is outside the action that the film has its biggest flaws. The subplots invented to pad out the film are the main offenders. Kili and Tauriel’s romance feels rushed and forced into the plot, as they go from strangers to madly in love over the course of two or three interactions. Alfred, the Master of Lake Town’s assistant makes a return, however the film wastes numerous scenes on him. His character has little development and almost no bearing on the course of the narrative. It’s baffling as to why Alfred gets so much screentime, yet a fan favourite like Beorn gets literally three seconds. Thankfully, the main protagonists all give solid performances: Martin Freeman once again gives a charming performance as Bilbo, Richard Armitage as Thorin captures his proud arrogance and decline into dragon sickness, and Ian Mckellen is Gandalf, enough said.
In comparison to the Return of the King, ‘Hobbit: The Quintuple Scuffle’ wraps everything up pretty quickly and Jackson does a great job in linking the two trilogies. The ending is moving as Bilbo settles back into Bag End, starting the decline into the embittered recluse we see in the Fellowship. It speaks volumes that these last scenes are able to instill melancholy after almost two hours of epic, fantastical action. While Bilbo’s ending is excellently handled, many of the other characters are simply ignored. It is almost as if the film simply ran out of time; odd then that this is the shortest of the trilogy. What happens to Thorin, the Dwarves, Bard and the Lake Town refugees is a mystery to anyone who hasn’t read the books. Even the conclusion of the pentagonal scuffle is wrapped up swiftly with the application of the series’ favourite ‘get out of jail free card’ (Think Hotel California). The fact that the film wastes time on the irrelevant and irksome Alfred, then fails to provide any conclusion for the majority of main characters is ludicrous. While White Council facing down Sauron and the Nazghul has to be the highpoint of the trilogy, the film itself is the weakest of the three.
If you’re a fan of the series, go see it, see it in IMAX 3D, you’ll have a blast. With its bombastic opening, ‘Hobbit: Pentamerous Pugilism’ sets out to be the best of the trilogy, but wastes your time with unnecessary side plots, too much CGI and leaves much unanswered. That said, watching elves springboard off a dwarven shield wall is bloody awesome. To sum up with a Haiku:
A Pentagonal conflict
Nothing is conclud