The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (dir. Peter Jackson, 2014) – After Smaug’s demise, five armies march towards Erebor in preparation of a war over gold.
After two sufficiently fun precedents, The Hobbit‘s darker finale feels more tiresome than impressive in a disappointing turn.
One last time. With the band of assorted dwarves and an affable Hobbit, we have arrived at the end of our adventures, where an epic battle of the five armies awaits.
The final Hobbit instalment wastes no time and thrusts with immediacy into where we last left off – the much anticipated desolation of Smaug. This fiery destruction had been what the previous movie’s title promised but failed to deliver, in favour of an underwhelming cliffhanger.
Before long, the swift demise of the dragon comes to an end. Just as foretold (and hence, not a spoiler), Bard the Bowsman’s valiance and marksmanship save Laketown from further destruction. The abrupt pay-off seems especially lacking, after an entire movie of excessive build-up.
The problem persists in Gandalf and Galdriel’s duel against the Necromancer. Rather than introducing Sauron’s threatening presence, the scene ends too quickly before it begins, amounting to a dull filler extant only to meet Peter Jackson’s contractual terms of three movies.
Though I would love nothing more than to see more of Middle-Earth, I have to finally admit that a two-parter, if not a single movie, would have made for a more engaging adaptation of The Hobbit.
Hope is born when all is forlorn. So we choose to believe the disappointment will be kept to its beginning. After all, coveted gold atop the Lonely Mountain is about to begin a massive war. The legend continually drives towards darker grounds. Dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield is lost in greed and called for war, while armies of elves and orcs march towards bloodshed.
Lost gold is a much lesser motivation than the world at peril, as in The Return of the King. These lower stakes cost the self-contained trilogy some excitement. But it would be unfair to compare the two trilogies, and we do find reason to care in the pecuniary struggle, thanks to a great cast who exceed their flat characterisation.
Chemistry sadly does not extend to the odd dwarf-elf couple. With more time spent on Kili and Tauriel’s contrived forbidden romance, the result is a distracting pinch of unintended humour.
Despite the script weaknesses, the finale’s generous portion of action suffices, while the dwarf company charms with great personalities. Beyond those interspersing scenes, The Hobbit does not pretend to be much more than fantastical joint set pieces that are at least, entertaining in all its digitally-enhanced glory.
On that imperfect note, the beloved Tolkien tale wraps and we have to bid farewell to the company we have grown very fond of. Like Bilbo Baggins, we find ourselves rather reluctant to do so. The destination back home is after all less than inviting, after an arduous journey where bonds were forged, sacrifices made and memories forever etched.