The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Review

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

Hobbitses mostly come in two sizes.

The first are small and sort of cute, in spite of their hairy feet.

The second kind are filthy, fat ones who are always stuffing their bloody faces.

Peter Jackson’s films about JRR Tolkien’s literary creations also come in two sizes; the extra large cinematic versions, and the super-sized ones you can take home with you.

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies finally brings us to the end of this very long middle earth road.

And if you’ve already forgotten how the second hobbit film ended, well I’ll be no help as so have I.

This one begins with a talking dragon who’s got a penchant for shiny stuff, flying over a floating lake town and torching it to the ground.

Scenes that feature dragons don’t last long mind, as some square jawed yokel who only thinks of the children kills the last dragon on middle earth after about ten minutes.

With their homes now lying in scorched ruins, these human folk head towards the mountain of Erebor to ask the dwarves for a share of their new found wealth to rebuild their homes.

But having got a taste of the shiny stuff himself, King Thorin of Oakenshield decides gold is worth more than his word and keeps it all for himself.

Cue some pointy eared elven army, who also want some of the desolate dragon’s treasure trove, and you’ve got yourself a Mexican middle earth stand-off.

But as this is the battle of the five armies, there’s still a couple of orc shaped battalions left to crash the party.

I’ve never read the hobbit, and after watching all three of Jackson’s films about the classic novel, I don’t feel inspired to either.

It’s not that The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies is bad; on the contrary, it does everything it says on the tin.

So there are more wizards and special effects wizardry than you could shake Gandalf’s walking stick at, fantastical monsters and creatures of all shapes and sizes, but not much else besides.

The dialogue is wooden and clichéd, with only the impressive Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins sounding anything like a real person, and some of the feats our heroes pull off are simply too ridiculous to believe.

The scene where Orlando Bloom’s no longer lithe Legolas runs up falling bricks of a collapsing tower is when this middle earth series jumped the shark for me.

Some of this isn’t Jackson’s fault, as he can only work with the source material Tolkien has written, but the truth is there’s another writer who’s made middle earth seem just a little boring now.

George RR Martin’s Game Of Thrones has taken the fantasy subject matter and ground breaking special effects from those first Tolkien film adaptations, as well as his middle names, and added complex, realistic adult characters to this.

Some 14 years since those pioneering Lord Of The Rings films first came out of the cinematic closet, this hobbit trilogy hasn’t kept up with the times and simply can’t compete with the warring Lannister, Stark and Baratheon clans.

And there are just too many holes in the battle of the five armies.

Giant earth eating worms are introduced as foes but never see any action, Saruman’s turn to the dark side is hinted at after an epic ethereal battle with Ringwraiths and Sauron, but disappointingly never explored, and there’s a lot of nonsense spouted about dragon sickness too.

I still don’t get how Gollum doesn’t age a day without his precious, when Ian Holm’s Bilbo turns decrepit as soon as he gives this up.

Maybe all will be revealed in that super-sized extended version to be released next year, but until then it would seem as though winter has finally come for Peter Jackson’s epic middle earth saga.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

December 2014