Loaded with CGI special effects, an array of subpar sub-plots, and characters Peter Jackson assumes you’re going to know, Battle of the Five Armies manages to pull off, with a certain amount of success, an enjoyable spectacle that is heavy on the action, and worth the one last visit to Middle-Earth. The Lord of the Rings mythos is quite enchanting, and I should preface this next statement, and everything that follows after that, by saying that I’m a huge fan of the LOTR films. With that said, Battle of the Five Armies is not a film that can stand on its own. As a matter of fact, it feels like all it does is tie up loose ends from beginning to end, but I can’t deny that this is an epic visual experience, a popcorn movie at its finest.
Beginning immediately where the last film (The Desolation of Smaug) left off, Bilbo, along with Thorin and his company of dwarves, watch in horror as Smaug lays waste to Laketown and all its people. The encounter between Bard the Bowman and Smaug is just a taste of what’s to come for the rest of the film; non-stop declarations of “war,” extremely extreme close-ups, overuse of dramatic slow-motion, and awesome scenes of violence and CGI. The main storyline of Bilbo takes a seat in favor of following the growing madness and inevitable slow-motion redemption of Thorin Oakenshield — oh, and all the other filler subplots (Tauriel/Kili,Gandalf/Galadriel, etc.) are sprinkled in here and there for action (and, probably, LOTR reference).The story falls short in its pacing, and instead of a well-tailored movie, we witness a patchwork of interesting scenes haphazardly scotch-taped together by a genius director with a ridiculously overblown movie budget; and that could have made the movie unenjoyable if it weren’t for the fact that, for the majority of the film, I was watching FIVE armies battle it out to the death before Erebor and the gates to the kingdom under the mountain. FIVE!
I think it’s too early for me to make this call, but I believe that this film is, technically, the weakest of the three, because it spends most of its time tying up loose ends from its previous films while setting up the events that will take place in The Lord of the Rings films. There isn’t a definitive story here — well, one that’s not entirely that compelling to watch, probably because I can’t help but feel as if I’m sitting through the tail-end of a prolonged story that could’ve been told in a much shorter and more substantial two-part film (I won’t get into it). However, if someone were to ask me if it was worth watching, I’d immediately say “yes,” because why the hell wouldn’t someone want to watch a movie involving a dragon and thousands of goblins and orcs with giant trolls, facing off against legions of dwarves, elves, and men? I actually plan to watch it again, in 3-D, high frame-rate, and IMAX (if possible). Told you I’m a fan.
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Review: Photographs courtesy of The Hobbit