THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES
A dragon, elves, dwarfs, wizards, and yada, yada, yada again!
Film Review © 2014 by Trip Reynolds
Directed by Peter Jackson. Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro from the novel "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien. Produced by Carolynne Cunningham, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Zane Weiner. Co-produced by Philippa Boyens.
Starring: Ian McKellen (as the wizard, Gandalf), Martin Freeman (as the younger Bilbo Baggins), Richard Armitage (as the dwarf, King Thorin), Ken Stott (as Balin), Graham McTavish (as Dwalin), William Kircher (as Bifur), James Nesbitt (as Bofur), Stephen Hunter (as Bombur), Dean O'Gorman (as Fili), Aidan Turner (as Kili), John Callen (as Oin), Peter Hambleton (as Gloin), Jed Brophy (as Nori), Mark Hadlow (as Dori), Adam Brown (as Ori), Orlando Bloom (as Legolas), Evangeline Lilly (as Tauriel), Lee Pace (as Thranduil), Cate Blanchett (as Galadriel), Hugo Weaving (as Elrond), Christopher Lee (as Saruman), Ian Holm (as the older Bilbo Baggins), Mikael Persbrandt (as Beorn), Sylvester McCoy (as Radagast the Brown), Luke Evans (as Bard), Stephen Fry (as Master of Laketown), Ryan Gage (as Alfrid), John Bell (as Bain), Manu Bennett (as the evil Azog), John Tui (as Bolg), Benedict Cumberbatch (as voice of Smaug / Necromancer), Billy Connolly (as Dain), and a host of others.
Five armies? Really? Three, maybe four, but not five armies. As usual, this convoluted story also failed to detail the five armies. We finally conclude Peter Jackson's cinematic treatment of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," a trilogy of films that collectively earned nearly $3 billion dollars, and "The Hobbit," another trilogy that with this final entry has already earned $2,148,552,423 and counting. These are impressive numbers.
The Lord of the Rings Box Office The Hobbit Box Office The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 1,119,929,521 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies* 173,182,000 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 926,047,111 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 958,366,855 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 871,530,324 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 1,017,003,568 $2,917,506,956 $2,148,552,423
* As of Dec. 19, 2014
However, are these films equally impressive artistically and dramatically? Do these films stand as individual achievements, completely independent of their function as a component of a film franchise? Tell the truth, did you get bored and start to yawn with director Jackson's repetitive "establishing shots" of mountains and valleys and rivers and fields and so forth and so on? Tell the truth, given that you've seen dragons, elves, dwarfs, wizards, and other fantasy-based CGI creatures in five previous films, was there anything truly "unexpected" in this final chapter of the "Hobbit," which functions only as a prequel to "The Lord of the Rings" saga? Well?
"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" does not suffer from bad acting, with all players contributing first class performances from previous installments. Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, and Cate Blanchett were particularly impressive. However, the ensemble cast was not supported by a strong script, which lacked continuity and failed to addess some basic common sense:
1. POWER - After taking possession of gates of Erebor, dwarf King Thorin barely had a force of ten men under his command, and not nearly enough men to prevent a clandestine attack from humans and/or elves; nevertheless, Thorin remained soverign over Erebor. Then, after overcoming Smaug's "dragon sickness," Thorin opens the gates to Erebor and leads his paltry brigade of dwarfs against Azog's much larger (in numbers and stature) army. So, on a one-to-one basis who's more powerful, one dwarf or one elf or one wizard or one demon or what?
2. SCOPE OF POWER - There's never any way to actually guage or measure mystical power in these films. Wizards appear "all powerful" in some scenes, but then appear impotent and engage in basic fisticuff fighting in the very next scene. Gandalf (Ian McKellen) is rescued from Dol Guldur and the evil Sauron by Galadriel (Kate Blanchett), Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy), Saruman (Christopher Lee) and other White Council members; but these wizards are unable or unwilling to cast a spell over elves, dwarfs, and humans to prevent them from fighting or to prompt their enlightenment. Do wizards have any real power or not?
3. EXISTENCE OF POWER - Given it's apparent power and influence over Thorin and his predecessors, the film never addresses the ultimate outcome of the Arkenstone. Did the Arkenstone have power, and if so, what?
However, this film is a fantasy, so expecting common sense, continuity, and consistency is probably out of place. Just eat your popcorn, drink your Coke, shut up, and for the next two-hours and twenty-four minutes get lost in this dark and brooding film with its abundance of CGI-based death and carnage.
The look and feel of this film is, well, repetitive (this is, after all, the third film in the trilogy, duh!). Accordingly, direction by Peter Jackson was repetitive. Editing my Jabez Olssen was equally repetitive. Music score by Howard Shore was repetitive.
Recommendation: If you're a fan of this franchise, or you're looking for a gift for someone's birthday or Christmas, wait for the ten-(10) disc BlueRay/DVD box set that will most assuredly contain all six films plus four additional discs of exclusive content and extra features. If you're not a fan of this franchise, purchase "Jason and the Argonauts (1963)," or "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977)," because these films are much more fun, and no where near as dark and brooding as "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies."