Here we go again with Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about one of the movies I own and why I like it. Time to cap off The Hobbit trilogy with The Battle of the Five Armies. This is in my notes at April 18, 2015.
Well, as I said last time, the end of The Desolation of Smaug left me baffled. "What's left?" I asked. "There's the Battle of the Five Armies and then, that's it." And it's amazing how they dedicate this one film to that battle.
Many critics praised this as being the best of the trilogy, mainly because there's not much left, so it's therefore the shortest. I still maintain that the first film is the best of the trilogy, because it's the one that feels the most like a fully formed movie, with character arcs and a definite conclusion. But this one...you can still feel the padding.
As I lamented last time, Bard the Bowman slaying Smaug is reduced to a James Bond-style pre-credits sequence. Rather than the dwarfs driving Smaug out of the Erebor, that should have been your big action climax to the second film. All of the Lord of the Rings prequel bits, with the defeat of the Necromancer and the resurrection of the Ring Wraiths, is all resolved within the first half hour. The first half of the movie is pretty much a Mexican standoff writ large, as the armies gather and try to find a peaceful resolution. And the second half is the titular battle, following the example of films like The Avengers and the Transformers franchise where the third act is nothing but a protracted action sequence.
I love The Hobbit the book more than Lord of the Rings the books, and ever since I saw The Lord of the Rings and its epic battles, I'd been waiting to see the Battle of the Five Armies rendered the same way. This is what I was waiting the whole trilogy for! And it's so padded and drawn out that I start to lose interest.
Billy Connelly shows up as a dwarf lord in pretty much a glorified cameo. Would have been nice if, I dunno, he was developed a little more. And Alfie, the sniveling aide to the Master of Lake-Town, is annoying, as we see him cower and connive from one situation to another. Many complained how they started stuffing in too many extraneous characters, and you really feel it in this film.
And Thorin's character arc is a little...underdeveloped. He comes down with the dragon sickness and is consumed by a lust for gold and then just kinda shakes it off? And they managed to stretch that out for half the film? Crazy.
There is still good stuff in the film, though. I mean, I did finally see the Battle of the Five Armies on the big screen. And for the most part, it was pretty cool.
But that's The Hobbit trilogy. There's a good adaptation of The Hobbit in there...they just really needed to trim the fat.