The Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies
The Review contains slight spoilers for the movie. If you’ve read the book, you needn’t worry. If you haven’t, you don’t really need to worry either.
I’ve recently managed to watch the third and final installment of what started as another amazing journey after the screening of The Lord of the Rings, but became a farce that hasn’t got much to do with Tolkien’s masterwork. They might be good action and fantasy movies (and still above many other movies released in the fantasy genre), but they chop up a beautiful story and add stuff that makes no real sense or enhances the movies in any way. I still believe that making a two-movie series out of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and staying close to the original would have been better for the studio, the director and staff, and the audience.
The last movie has only reinforced that believe. It’s in many parts the weakest of the three movies and is more a caricature of the original story. I hold with what I said in regard to the second movie: These movies should not have been called The Hobbit. It’s not The Hobbit. It’s not even close to The Hobbit. The first “review” I heard in regard to this movie was from one of the authors I follow on Twitter, who basically said that he went into the movie with low expectations and was still disappointed. My experience was similar.
The movie is without question high quality cinema, as long as you don’t count story and some of the actors. In such a high budget movie, couldn’t they find some actors that actually manage to convey some of the ridiculous emotions inserted into this story? The ending, which is a sad parting of ways, has scenes in it that nearly had me bursting out in laughter. Simply because the actors (especially the elvish ones) could not convey any kind of feelings. They simply were unable to do more than look abhorrently ridiculous, making a disgusting perversion of what should have been a devastating experience. Not to mention that the writers for these scenes seem to have let someone be in charge that had no business writing scenes for such a high quality movie and series. If you’re around on the internet (and especially reddit) you’ll probably have seen some of these scenes immortalized as memes to ridicule and laugh about. For me, it was a hollow laugh, as I couldn’t help but see what might have been. These movies could have been so much. But they chose to be something you watch once, then you ignore they were ever made.
As with the other movies, this one has its high points. It looks absolutely gorgeous all around and has amazing images of both landscapes and buildings. If you’ve watched the second movie, you’ll know that the old dwarven kingdom is breathtaking. I liked the change in Thorin Oakenshield too, though I’ve heard others found it rather annoying. Still, it was an important point of the novels, so I’m glad the curse of the gold got taken up so well. The fights can be impressive too, at least the single combat battles, where the dwarves and elves (and some humans, hobbits, etc.) do their thing and kill half the orcish population of Middle Earth. As unlikely as these scenes tend to be.
What annoyed me to no end were the battles. They lack any kind of realism, are mostly strategically and tactically ignorant… no, quite suicidal. I’ve never been in a medieval kind of battle, but I assure you, most of us could probably lead the forces in this so aptly named movie better than their actual commanders. If you think about that all of these commanders are supposed to be experienced and accomplished generals, that makes the movie an unrealistic farce. I don’t ask for something highly realistic, but when you see the elven army letting the supposedly hostile dwarven army so close to them they could nearly touch you can but shake your head in wonder. The elves, accomplished with their bows, choose to give up their main advantage against the heavily armed dwarves. Brilliant! Maybe I’m just too dumb to see the tactical advantage it gives your army when it’s unable to fire a single arrow before heavy infantry breaks them in half.
The rest of the battle is similarly lacking in intelligence. Later, the elves charge head on into the orcish attackers, ignoring that the dwarves already set up a pretty sturdy looking shield-wall. Not only do they give away a major advantage without need, they make it harder for their own allies to use their powerful bows. You can’t shoot into a melee where your own forces are mingled with the enemies. Being elves that might work somewhat well, but I assure you: they will kill a lot of their own men in the same instance.
The movie is riddled with such unrealistic expectations of war and conflict. Not to mention that all armies seem to be very small all in all considered. When the eagles come to take out the second “army”, that rather looks like a single (rather small) battalion, it gets taken down near instantly. That wasn’t the tide-turning second army I’d expected, full of the fast breeding orcs. Oh, and these orcs? Bred for war and living in constant conflict? They get taken out left and right by fishermen, humans armed with shit and pickles that have never seen a battle in their life. Poor orcs, I bet they were forced by the director to throw their lives away needlessly, without resistance.
So, the main question still stands: Is it worth watching?
If you’ve watched the first two, watch the third too. Depending on how much you enjoyed the other two movies you’ll have to decide if it’s worth going to the movies for it (and maybe even watch 3D, which I’ve heard is a waste of money) or if you can wait until you can rent it somewhere or it runs in regular TV. Fans of the The Hobbit book will likely be disappointed once again, as I was. For anyone else it might proof to be an entertaining evening. Just don’t expect too much.