Doing a review of a recently released movie is fraught with peril. The chances are that not many people will have seen it yet so the likelihood of inadvertently divulging a spoiler is high. So I’m going to start of this review of the final part of The Hobbit saga with a huge big one.
If you see this movie it will spoil the whole of the Lord of the Rings.
There we go, that’s out of the way. I’m not talking about the shocking revelations that Sauron is back, or that Arathorn’s soon could become something special, but the fact that “The Battle of the Five Armies” is close to ruining the original trilogy and all the goodwill that they created. Thankfully is is the briefest of all visits to Middle Earth (which may be due to the fact is it based upon an A5 pamphlet).
I didn’t want to hate it, and I don’t want to actually give away the plot, but it left me as cold as Helcaraxë. It is pretty obvious that there is a battle in this movie (and that it involves multiple armies) and anyone who saw the last movie will also be expecting the 15 minutes they cut and pasted to the beginning of this effort.
The movie is one overlong set piece, it as though the Battle of the Pelennor Fields was stretched to encompass the whole movie (and included the short snippet of Gandalf’s return at Helm’s Deep) and this is where the main problem lies. The Pelennor Fields was an epic battle, an epoch defining conflict which counted hundreds of thousands of participants fighting in the shadow of Middle Earth’s major city. It was big.
The Battle of the Five armies is a mere skirmish compared to this but being a decade on since the Ride of the Rohirrim it had to be more spectacular. Yet spectacular seems to mean add more subplots, and rallies, and Legolas going pew-pew with his bow and arrow.
How rubbish is Legolas? He can kill orcs in all these ways:
- Riding shields down a wall
- Riding on Oliphaunts
- Riding on Dwarve’s heads on a river
- Running across rooftops
- Generally everywhere
Apart from the one time it mattered, when he was standing still on a high wall aiming at the orc with a torch running in a straight line.
Legolas is a bottler.
Back to the battle, which is how this movie operates. Let’s go over here, then there, oh look a thing we should totally check that thing out. It has now flow, the battle seems to happen like a series of CG shorts with some thinly veiled plot hung across. With some more added Legolas pew-pewing.
Moments of drama fall flat because they have not been able to develop, and anytime you are meant to feel emotional I was not invested in due to the fact it was just a thing that happened. I hate cliched storywriting but considering this is Tolkien and not Grrrrr Martin it is perfectly acceptable that the relevant story beats are sign posted.
I hated the way that antagonists have been created for these movies, it didn’t need a love interest (the love story is between 12 guys) and just like Lord of the Rings we are forced to accept a big baddie to replace the faceless enemy.
The biggest problem I had with this movie was the amount of stupidity, I hate being the person that finds plot holes but all the way home from the cinema (a 3D HFR Imax – and that didn’t bother me at all) I was angry about all the events that occurred that didn’t need to.
Changes from the book made the story worse, again due to spoilers I can’t explain which ones but fans will know, and robbed the film of it’s heart. Some changes have worked *cough* Tom Bombadil *cough* but all the climatic events in the final part of the movie were terrible. They served no purpose but to fulfill the additional arcs that had been created.
Maybe this is why I disliked it so much, it robbed me of the excitement of seeing The Hobbit. I said to Mrs G that “I would be happy never to watch that movie again”.
This was my Phantom Menace, a Battle of Five Jar-Jars.