Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – 2014

the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armies-posterWell there you have it. It’s over. Finished. Complete. Thank goodness!
Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth has come to an end, even if it truly ended in 2003…
The third and final instalment of the prequel trilogy that nobody was really bothered with has arrived, and it is with no surprise that I comment on how bloated, over the top and ridiculous it felt.
Being a passionate fan of “The Lord of the Rings”, “The Hobbit” trilogy has disappointed more than satisfied. For reasons already explained by many, the qualms I have with the recent trilogy revolve around the fact that it’s a trilogy, the overuse of CGI and the apparent lack of heart compared to the original series.

So the appropriately but annoyingly named “The Battle of the Five Armies” picks up directly from where “The Desolation of Smaug” concluded. Smaug, without a doubt the trilogy’s greatest asset begins his reign of terror over the nearby seaside town in spectacular fashion. Flame, rubble, destruction and ruin are everywhere in this striking opening, but it is all too short lived.
For something to be under utilised in a Peter Jackson picture, that’s saying something. We needed more Smaug, but we can hope the extended versions have a few more scenes with the marvellous dragon.

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIESAs the plot progresses, Bilbo and the dwawf-owship continue to venture in and amongst the lonely mountain, and it far too quickly becomes Thorin’s film. After we get our fair serving of Thorin, the film becomes Bard’s film and afterwards becomes Tauriel’s, then Legolas’, Gandalf’s and Kili’s.
It seems as though Bilbo, who was hinting at a surge in plot focus, once again takes a backseat role, allowing for supporting characters to steal the limelight. Last time I checked, this wasn’t named “Thorin: The Battle of the Five Armies”…

For a film that is two thirds battling, the title does it’s job I guess. The action is predominantly non-stop, but it’s clear that with the excessive CGI and average script, this third instalment really lets the ball down. “Lord of the Rings” was a clear-cut labor of love.
The orcs were costumed human beings, the narrative spread was solid and you actually cared for the characters. Personally, I don’t care for any of the dwarves and I barely feel anything towards Bilbo, which is a great shame. This isn’t through lack of performance, it’s through the screenplay that doesn’t allow for significant character development.
The script in this final film demonstrates certain characters’ arks quite well which is a saving grace, however compared to the understanding and investment in the fellowship, these dwarves have nothing; especially seeing as 4 of them don’t even speak…

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIESThe “LOTR” tie-ins are frequent and shameless. I understand this decision as it’s acting as a prequel filmic trilogy that can be constructed to join seamlessly with the original, but some elements weren’t handled to the best of their potential.
The Sauron scenes are short and menacing, but it’s nothing much of a hard-hitting experience compared to the genuine scenes from the first three. They’re potent but predictable.
One scene in particular sees Cate Blanchett, Sir Ian Mckellen, Christopher Lee and Hugo Weaving face off with an ominous threat, but it felt a little too short at the end of it. The scene had potential, but with the ridiculous special effects and puzzling progression, it had nothing on the Weathertop scene it was trying to replicate and outdo. More often than not, the fighting scenes felt like a cut scene from a modern video game, not a film.

The shining light as far as cast was concerned was Luke Evans. Bard, the Aragorn-esque character provides the best performance as well as the most substance within character growth. His scenes, although not overly interesting, are ultimately the fullest.
I found myself being most attached to Bard and it both entertained and upset me. My sympathy and interest should lie with everyone, most importantly Bilbo, however it was through the performance of Evans that I was drawn most to Bard. 

3-the-hobbit-3-the-battle-of-the-5-armies-what-to-look-forward-toNow, the battling. Bloated, too long, ridiculous and boring at times, the battle sequences were so overly drawn out and exhausted, it became a tedious affair all too quickly. It had it’s moments, but a lot of it felt forced, tacky and so incredibly predictable.
Some of Legolas’ moments were trying too hard to outdo the “LOTR” Legolas and became comedic when supposed to be tense and serious. I found myself laughing in disbelief and shaking my head at the sae time all too often which was a great shame.
Also, Billy Connolly’s inclusion was a miscast for me. Doing what they did to Jim Carey and Tom Hanks in “A Christmas Carol” and “The Polar Express” through motion capture technology, Connolly’s dwarf was a very strange character that didn’t seem to fit in with anything. 

The experience of “The Hobbit” was an interesting one for me. It began when I sat in the second row in the theatre, which is bad idea in the first place. With nowhere else to look but the gargantuan, but slightly distorted screen in front of me, I prepare myself to endure the 164-minute runtime ahead of me, plus the trailers.
Speaking of trailers, we got to witness the “Star Wars: Episode 7” trailer on the cinematic screen which was fantastic! I think that was the overall highlight of the night for me. Seeing and hearing everyone jump in fright at the jump scare was entertaining for me, being a cynic and all.
Next up was the 3D version of the film – a concept I am against 9 times out of 10. “The Hobbit” was no exception; the 3D was not necessary for the experience and proved more distracting than entraining.
watch-the-eerie-new-teaser-trailer-for-the-hobbit-the-battle-of-the-five-armiesBut, the nail in the coffin was the gimmick of 48fps playback. This was distracting and alienating behind measure for me. I didn’t see the previous films at this frame rate due to speculation, but when it finally came to it, the ultra-fluid, streamline movements and motion became far too obvious and painful for my eyes.
I am able to suspend disbelief for certain amount of time – I lasted 5 minutes before commenting to my girlfriend. If the rumours are true and James Cameron is going to show his latest “Avatar” films at 62fps, I will seek to boycott the film! There is nothing wrong with 24fps – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

So there you have it. No more Middle Earth. The prequel trilogy could be summed up as sub-par, especially when compared to the original trilogy, and it’s with the concluding film that I take the most issue with. An average film with some heavily below-average moments,“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” salvaged some credibility at the end but ultimately felt like overdone genericness, far from it’s former glory.
It was inevitable, it was never going to be “The Lord of the Rings”, but for what it’s worth, “The Hobbit” just didn’t work for me. 

3/5

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