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The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

Directed by Peter Jackson

Starring Martin Freeman, Ian KcKellan, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans


So, prequel trilogies, yeah?

While ostensibly set in the same world as the Lord Of The Rings films and fleshing out the adventures and histories of some of the same characters, it has become more and more apparent as time progresses that the Hobbit films are, in fact, the functional opposite of director Peter Jackson’s earlier cinematic triumph. The Hobbit is twee where Rings was sombre (or at least took itself seriously), cartoonish where it was painterly, rushed where it was thoughtful and – most importantly – boring where it was engaging. There’s a lot of action and spectacle in The Battle Of The Five Armies and while some of it is well staged, very little of it means anything.

After the dragon Smaug is summarily despatched by Bard The Bowman (Luke Evans), all eyes turn to the Lonely Mountain and the treasure that lies within. Newly minted dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) doesn’t feel like sharing, but the elves want their cut, while the refugees from the burned out husk that used to be Laketown are in need of some seed money. Before too long the orcs show up to sow a bit of chaos and it’s on for young and old.

Jackson has clearly hit the point in his career where he needs someone on staff whose sole function is to tell him to get his hand off it. Five Armies is almost completely undone by Jackson’s self-indulgence, handicapped by frustratingly bad pacing and a shocking disregard for tonal consistency – Jackson’s propensity for cutting from grim battlefield carnage to slapstick comedy does him no favours here. Though it’s bookended by a dragon-slaying and a royal rumble, the film spends far too much time spinning its wheels while Thorin goes mad with “dragon sickness” and we get treated to an odd Avengers-style team up between Gandalf (Ian McKellan), Saruman (Christopher Lee), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and Elrond (Hugo Weaving) that adds little. By the time hordes of orcs are bouncing off ranks of elves and dwarves, the excitement comes from knowing it’ll all be over soon (but not too soon – it is, after all, 144 minutes long).

Long, leaden and moribund, The Battle Of The Five Armies squanders all the goodwill and wonder that Jackson had built up with his first three excursions to Middle Earth. You could make the argument that The Hobbit is a children’s text, but Jackson’s insistence on tying his adaptation so closely to the larger story sinks that excuse. This is lazy, pompous, tone deaf filmmaking and, though it’s certain there are some people out there who will like it, they’re going to spend a goodly chunk of time in the future making excuses as to why.






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