The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Nominated for Best Sound Editing (Brent Burge, Jason Canovas) at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

It IS finally over, as I’ve been mocking for weeks. Am I being unfair to “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”? Oh, maybe a little bit. Have I been beating a dead horse with my constant deriding of this bloated, money-grubbing enterprise? I guess so, but what other way was there to go? Sometimes, the truth is in what is most obvious. “The Hobbit” was split into three films by Peter Jackson and Warner Bros. to garner as much cash as possible. A similar release date structure to the original 2001-2003 “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy was put into place, and the hope was to mimic that successful, artistic achievement as closely as possible. It mostly worked. Box office totals for each of the trilogies will land around the three billion mark, when “The Hobbit” finally completes it theatrical run. But in going from an inspired journey to mold each “The Lord of the Rings” books into an award-worthy classic triptych, to a greedy trio of movies covering a SINGLE  270-page novel–Jackson sold his soul. He lost a lot of respect in the artistic community–but maybe he doesn’t give a rat’s ass. The people still turned out for this series of films. But hey, they did that for the 2nd “Star Wars” trilogy too. But it was proven that you truly can’t go home again. Both times. Take heed, those chomping at the bit for “The Force Awakens”!

Someone recently asked me if “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is the strongest of the latest trio. My answer: “I guess so…maybe…I’m not sure”. It might be, but so what? Hey, it’s the shortest (at 144 minutes), so that helps. But I hear that there’s a half hour longer version waiting in the wings for DVD and Blu-ray. Even more ways to drain your wallet. Over the course of two-plus hours, there’s more walking and battling, walking and battling. Martin Freeman definitely stands out as the younger Bilbo Baggins (not to be confused with Ian Holm, the older Bilbo Baggins). Mr. Freeman is a fine actor, and as “The Hobbit” has undoubtedly given him a much higher profile, and therefore ample future opportunities…three cheers for Martin. Sincerely–because actors always need the damn work. The finale of this film is nicely handled, and Freeman works it beautifully. Peter Jackson still finds the right touch, every now and then. But it all plays like a mildly intriguing video game now, so that can’t possibly be considered a positive development. No doubt the most impressive special effect for me, was the still virile 92-year-old Christopher Lee, as Saruman. I wonder how he does it. Once upon a time, a maverick named Peter Jackson discovered Kate Winslet, and created a masterpiece called “Heavenly Creatures”. Within a decade, he had completed “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and captured the Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards in 2004. A decade on he’s just a cog in the system. Maybe, he’s perfectly happy with that.

Grade:  C+

next review up:  “The Imitation Game”


4 comments on “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

  1. Good review Mark. Though it’s nice to see the trilogy come to an end, I still have to say that I had a good enough time with it while it lasted.

  2. Mark, I fear that Jackson has lost his mojo mate! He seems perhaps a little to caught up in his own self worth and the tech behind movies, not so much the story telling aspect.

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