Monday, 5 January 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (2014)

Just to get up to speed, here is my review of the first and second movies in The Hobbit trilogy.

I was hesitant about this, the final, instalment of The Hobbit trilogy. It was, after all, stretching out the finale into something that I never really wanted to see onscreen. The big battle sequences in both The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings books were always the dullest passages for me, and the movies have so far proven to be almost equally dull when depicting those scenes. Oh, they have the spectacle and grandiosity that makes them entertaining, but it all becomes hard to care about when you're just watching one army swarming around another.

Carrying on from where the previous movie left off, this cinematic adventure focuses on the trouble caused by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) when he gets to take his rightful place in the heart of the mountain that was previously home to a fierce dragon named Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). It's not long until Thorin is afflicted with a sickness that lets greed and paranoia overrule his good nature, in turn losing him the loyalty of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his fellow dwarves, who could be named Prancer, Dancer, Blitzen, etc. for all the time they get on screen. All of this leads, inevitably, to the battle that makes up the main title. And that's about it.

There are many little moments to enjoy here. The attention to detail is wonderful, as it has been in every Tolkien-related movie that director Peter Jackson has had a hand in (first The Lord Of The Rings trilogy and now this lot). But details don't always add up to great cinema. Neither does spectacle and scale. They can stave off boredom, but aren't really anything without a decent script and characters that you care about. This is where the final Hobbit movie gets things sorely wrong.

It's easy to like Bilbo Baggins, and a relationship sketched out between elf Thauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner) is quite sweet, but nobody else stands out. Thorin is busy being warped by greed, Bard (Luke Evans) is heroic enough but a bit bland, Thranduil (Lee Pace) is as cold as ever in his singular mission to keep his people safe, and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) has been bordering on self-parody for years. Billy Connolly adds some life to proceedings when he appears, as a dwarf named Dain, but it's too little too late at that point.

All of the performers do well enough with what they're given. They're just not given much, thanks to the weak script by Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyen and Guillermo del Toro. The emphasis is clearly on action for this war-filled final chapter, but that is no excuse when the previous movies have always managed (or almost managed) to surround big action set-pieces with humour, warmth and characters that you don't mind hanging around with for so long. This feels like the longest movie in the series yet, despite being the shortest (until the inevitable wealth of deleted scenes are added back in, at any rate).

I'm not saying that this is a waste of your time. It's the end of an era, in some ways, and worth a trip to the cinema if, like me, you've seen all of the others on the big screen. I'm not saying that there aren't some great one-on-one fights that show some of the individual lives at stake. The final 30-40 minutes is full of solid action and great moments. It just comes along after 100 minutes of material that constantly verges on being mind-numbingly boring.


You know there are a number of better editions coming, but here is one version to order -

No comments:

Post a Comment