{March into Middle-Earth} The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

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I’ll tell you what, I love watch-throughs. I know I haven’t been good about finishing my “Great Studio Ghibli” one, but I do love doing them all the same. There’s something about knowing which movie I’m watching next that makes me feel all cozy and peaceful inside, and now that I’ve finished my Hobbit watch-through, I might go back to Ghibli OR I might move onto The Lord of the Rings. It depends on whether or not I can seriously imagine making it through three and a half hours of The Return of the King again. Last time, I watched that movie I made the mistake of watching the extended edition.

Never again, I tell you. Never again.

I don’t know that I mentioned what editions of The Hobbit films I’m watching, but they are most definitely not the extended versions. I am horrified by the very idea that extended editions of The Hobbit films exist. It would take a lot and I mean a WHOLE lot to get me to sit through those. It’s not that I disliked these movies, but three movies clocking in at over two hours already are more than enough for me, please and thank you.

Three’s a Crowd

From what I remember about when The Battle of the Five Armies was released, it did not get good reviews. Some critics (I am not going to hunt the specific ones down) said that this third film proved that The Hobbit did not need to be separated into three movies. There just wasn’t enough story to go around. I felt justified back then in my opinion that it was stupid to make three films out of The Hobbit, and I’m not inclined to go back and chastise my past self for being so smug now.

Because you know what? The Hobbit shouldn’t have been three films and The Battle of the Five Armies proves that.

Between Desolation of Smaug and Battle of the Five Armies, there’s too much filler. In my last review, I wrote about how Peter Jackson actioned up Desolation of Smaug, dragging out sequences that could have been five–maybe ten minutes long–into twenty to thirty minute killing sprees. These last two movies could have easily been combined into one film if SOMEONE had a been more vicious in editing and not so fond of slightly slapstick fight scenes.

I came away for Battle of the Five Armies only caring about one storyline and knowing that I would never again watch the film without some sort of craft project in hand to keep me entertained during the unending battle scenes.

It’s Best to Start With Positives, But I Won’t

The main problem with The Hobbit trilogy–which I might as well address now–is that it simply didn’t develop its characters enough. While I liked what little aspects of personality I saw in the dwarves and Bilbo in the first film, all of that was dropped by Desolation of Smaug to make room for orc killing. If this film series wasn’t so incredibly long compared to the source material, I might be able to forgive it for cutting out character development, but it’s truly just ridiculous that we don’t have a good sense of who ALL the dwarves are by the third film.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in contrast, developed its characters so much better. I actually cared whether individuals lived or died, and I was invested in pretty much all of its character journeys. The Hobbit trilogy, unfortunately, has too many characters and no idea what to do with them. That’s why I think Bard the Bowman becomes the most interesting character in the last film. The dwarves have just become all jumbled together by Battle of the Five Armies. Other than Thorin, Balin, and Kili, no one stands out. To top that off, their desire to follow Thorin (who’s gone insane) and protect their gold isn’t very sympathetic. After the first film, I didn’t care about the dwarf storyline, but by this film, I pretty much didn’t like any of these characters or care about whether they succeed in taking the mountain or not.  They’ve just not been developed into interesting, three-dimensional characters.

Bard, in contrast, is a more relatable and likable character even though he only appears in one and a half of the films. He’s trying to save his family and his people–both are extremely easy motivations to relate to. He’s also trying to stop a pointless war over greed. Also, an exemplary motive. It helped too that he had a slightly snarky relationship with Alfrid, which made him more than just your average, boring Good Guy.  He came across through the entire movie as less imposing Aragorn and it worked.

Unfortunately, Bard shouldn’t have been my favorite character. He wasn’t in all of the films and it wasn’t his story that led to this grand finale. I should have cared about Bilbo or at least one of the dwarves. Something was seriously out of whack with the storytelling and structure of the entire series of films if I didn’t come away from Battle of the Five Armies caring one bit whether Thorin died.

Badly done, Peter Jackson. Badly done.

Now, Onto Some Actual Positives

My favorite sequence in the entire movie was when Galadriel and Elrond rescue Gandalf from Dol Guldur. It looked incredibly cheesy, but it gave Galadriel a chance to take down Sauron all by her lonesome and I thought that was amazing!

With a very few exceptions, the women in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films aren’t given much epic stuff to do. Eowyn kills the Witch King, sure, but that’s about it for the women of The Lord of the Rings. As for The Hobbit, Tauriel’s cool and all, but she’s not exactly up to taking on the albino orc or Sauron himself. It came as an absolutely surprise then that Galadriel and not Gandalf or Elrond is the one to take out Sauron (at least temporarily). I loved seeing her power on display and fist pumped when she sent the Eye back to where he belongs.

Galadriel is not even remotely one of my favorite Middle-earth characters, but I had to root for her being such a rockstar this one time.

Also important: In The Lord of the Rings films, we never get a good picture of what sort of powers elves have and what sort of powers the rings give to races that aren’t as unmagical as hobbits. The Battle of the Five Armies finally gives a good picture of what an elven ring of power is capable of and, by showing that, I think it proves that someone like Sauron could be truly terrifying with the One Ring. I feel like it was a mistake to wait until the prequel films to show off what a ring of power could do. I mean, other than Sauron sending people flying and Frodo going invisible, we never saw the ring being used in The Lord of the Rings films. Turning invisible isn’t the most threatening of powers so it was nice to see a ring used properly–even if it wasn’t the One Ring.

I’ve Made It This Far Into the Review and Not Mentioned Elves Yet

Do I get a cookie for this?

Thranduil, Legolas, and Tauriel are back in The Battle of the Fives Armies, and I can’t say that I love what’s going on with all of them in this film. Okay, mostly I just don’t love what’s going on with Tauriel. While in Desolation of Smaug, she had more of a story outside of her romance with Kili, her plot in Battle of the Five Armies is basically reduced to her trying to get to Kili and save him. That’s fine, I guess, but there was a little too much angst going on. I said last time that I wasn’t really invested in their love story, and that definitely didn’t change in this movie. I’m not a fan of instalove, and I found their supposedly “Epic Romance” to be worthy of eyerolling.

As for Legolas, he actually got better in this film. The brooding was gone and was replaced by him being a good friend to Tauriel. While he was jealous in the last film of her feelings toward Kili, that went away this time around. I appreciate that he didn’t turn into a “Nice Guy.” Of course, since they’re elves and she’s in love with a dwarf, jealousy and passive aggressiveness would be stupid. Elves are immortal. Legolas could easily bide his time and just wait for Kili to die of old age to get another chance with Tauriel. Maybe that’s why he is so chill. I suppose we’ll never know.

Oh yes, and there’s a character called Thranduil. Remember him? The most smirky elf that even smirked? Thranduil didn’t get a whole lot to do this time around other than smirk and stab orcs, but I’m okay with that. It’s enough to see him ride around on a moose and be snarky to everyone. He’s still my favorite character in the entire trilogy.

In Conclusion

I did it! I’ve made it there and back again with The Hobbit Trilogy, and I was even a little emotional when Bilbo returned to the Shire at the end of the series. I never expected to actually like The Hobbit movies, but I did (in spite of my occasional hemming and hawing). There’s something about The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit that is still like home to me, and somehow–even with as much as these films change the plot of the book–I still felt that warm, fuzzy watching them. Someday, I will even willing watch through them again.
What’s your favorite book or movie series?

Image Source: Screencapped.net

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2 thoughts on “{March into Middle-Earth} The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

  1. Next time you check out the Tolkien Edit. Not that I’ve watched myself (yet) but a fan cut all three films down to one 4 hour movie. I’m super curious how it restructures the character arcs – especially since it apparently focuses on Bilbo’s arc.

    I have to agree, Bard is easily one of the most likable characters. Luke Evans grounds him so well in his family, his strength and his humility. I do like Bilbo quite a bit too, but really none of the dwarves.

    But always the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings! 🙂 Especially the Two Towers for the vast improvements to Faramir’s character.

  2. I agree The Hobbit should have been two films, with the break where Bilbo defeats the spiders in the forest. Making it three just messed up the pacing and the character arcs. And the last film truly is just a battle, full of increasingly bizarre fight scenes and deaths. By the time Legolas was running across falling rocks and people were fighting on a frozen waterfall apparently miles from the actual battle, I was pretty much done with this film. Yet the actors still did what they could with what they had. And I do like that Galadriel’s power was showcased more, though I still find it odd she glows green!

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