It’s now been a phenomenally long time since the first Hobbit film was released. So long ago in fact that I did not have a blog at that time. However, to hear my thoughts on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, please go here since I don’t want to repeat myself too much here.
I stand by the point that everyone has been agreed on for three years, these films should not exist, at least not in their nine-hour three film format. Nevertheless they do. I have no idea what it would be like to watch all three films in a row, since one thing both the second and third have done well is catch you up to the plot in the first ten minutes. This is the most concise the films ever get so enjoy those ten minutes. Battle of Five Armies starts pretty badly, as the great three year threat of Smaug is killed off in near enough the blink of an eye and you’re left wondering where this film could possibly go with the three chapters that remain.
I don’t know how much has been added to this film, apart from Legolas and Tauriel. I’m not a Tolkien fanatic and it’s been many years since I read the Hobbit, since I read this children’s book when I was in fact a child. What the film shows us is one very extended battle, with strategy from all sides and every skirmish played out in full. This gives Orlando Bloom an opportunity to leap on falling rocks in a way no one has done since early 2000’s video games. There’s an overall impression of glitz and falseness that hangs over the CGI nightmare as ever. Yet Jackson does know how to pull an audience along with him. Despite a year of not so much as thinking about the Hobbit characters I found myself deeply invested, even in the invented love triangle that has got so much hate.
It almost feels as if Peter Jackson was fighting with himself through these films. Part of him decided to make three three-hour films and then he spent the rest of the time trying to make up for this horrible decision. Some of the things that get stuffed in don’t fit, a psychedelic set piece showing Thorin melting in a river of gold is unwanted at best and a cutaway to Legolas and Tauriel discussing war bats is laughable.
The Hobbit is like comfort food for those who love Middle Earth. There are no surprises, no great shocks. The characters develop a little and in predictable and comfortable ways. Hints are thrown in to push this towards the Lord of the Rings trilogy and it seems like a nice, safe and consumable piece of Middle Earth history. This is partly because of the lack of reality caused by the style. Wen you can sense that none of this exists just by looking at it the deaths lose their brutality, the battle stakes go down and it’s just an aesthetic experience. The interplay of shapes and colours and cinematography never falters throughout Battle of Five Armies and it’s a really enjoyable, immersive experience, if not a very substantial one.
- Entertainment: 4/5
- Artistic: 1/5
- Intellectual: 0/5