Peter Jackson brings his Hobbit trilogy to a close with The Battle of the Five Armies, and it is the hardest to call a singular film in this new trilogy.
***Warning: some spoilers throughout***
Zac: I know that opening doesn’t really explain what is going on in the film, but the title is sums up just about everything going on. Sure, the film opens with the actual desolation by Smaug the last film left off, but after that you get a lot of crazy Thorin (which might be my favorite part of the film) and then The Battle of the Five Armies. And when I say The Battle of the Five Armies, I mean 4 dwarves and a hobbit fighting some orcs with Legolas running around for the majority of the battle’s runtime.
Is it weird that I felt like we really missed out on a lot fighting that could have made the film feel like more complete film?
Lauren: Is it weird that I spent the majority of the film trying to figure out what groups constituted the five armies?
Considering this whole movie was nothing but fighting, except the first awkwardly toned 10 or so minutes, as well as any time Unibrow was on the screen, I don’t know how there could be any more. I wouldn’t really say we missed out on a lot of fighting that could have made it a more complete film because I prefer to focus on the characters that we’ve traveled all this way with. Sure the new dwarf guy was cool with his giant hammer and war pigs, but he’s new so who cares. There are too many stupid looking dwarves in the film as is, I don’t need anymore.
In general the film just doesn’t need more of anything because there’s already too much of everything in the series. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this story in no way needed three movies. I would have been OK with two films even though the source material isn’t that large when it comes to page number, but three just made the story drag with unnecessary set pieces and plot points that were thrown in to bulk up the run time. I get the desire to create a new Lord of the Rings trilogy, but just no. We already have one.
We don’t need trolls making fart jokes as they pick their noses, we don’t need a rabbit sled, we don’t need a tacked on love story to validate the use of a female, we don’t need a dwarf’s impression of Gollum going on about his precious stone as he hallucinates and then quickly purges these greedy feelings to get the story to progress… But if you must do these things, then do them better.
Zac: Since the movie is mostly action, I think we needed more action to get more character moments. I am already looking forward to the extended cut for this exact reason. If you aren’t part of the royal bloodline of dwarves then this film pretty much disregards you. That final goodbye with Bilbo and the dwarves doesn’t resonate because all of these guys were off-screen the whole damn movie and everyone that was, besides Dwalin, is dead. I think if the action focused on the group instead of isolating Thorin and his family (even though I loved the billy goats they ride to get there) this film would feel more whole as a singular film and as an end to this trilogy.
And I’m also not on the same page as you when it comes to Thorin and the Arkenstone as I think that was some of my favorite sequences from any of the Hobbit films. Richard Armitage is just so good, and I think Jackson earned this darkness even if they try to lay a little too much blame on a Smaug curse. I also really enjoyed Bilbo here, as I always do, and him bouncing back and forth over the wall brought some much needed levity to everything; especially since everything with Unibrow is, without a doubt, the absolute worst part of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings resume. Just dismal dreck; I don’t know what they were thinking giving him that much screentime here, let alone any, once the Master of Lake-town died.
Is there anything you enjoyed?
Lauren: For sure. I actually really enjoyed a lot of the fighting and I never found myself getting bored with it even though it goes on for the majority of the film’s runtime, so that’s saying something. Thorin and Azog’s showdown on the frozen over lake was the highlight for me probably, and I thought it was a strong way to wrap up their interlocking stories. I did love Thorin using Azog’s mace-like weapon against him as the weight of it dragged him below the ice, and I would have been satisfied had that been how they chose to end this because I love when heroes survive, but I definitely think they made the right choice in the end to have the fight continue past this fake ending. It definitely got me in the feels to see Thorin go down even though I had been so annoyed with him earlier, and it didn’t help that Bilbo was there to be with Thorin when he went.
Speaking of Bilbo, Martin Freeman is probably my favorite thing about the film, more so than the fight I just claimed to be the highlight. I’m allowed to change my mind! I liked him enough in the previous two films, but because there wasn’t too much happening at all times before the fighting in film 3 I was able to really appreciate the quiet moments with Freeman as he lived in that character. He would just have these little reactions, these pauses, and I loved it.
Zac: Those Bilbo-isms have been there for two movies before!
Lauren: Yeah well they were tainted by the rest of the movie!
To get back to the choreography of the fight sequences, I think this is part of the reason why I’m so bummed about Evangeline Lilly’s character. She had some great moments of fluid maneuverability when she was ducking and countering orc attacks up on the lookout, so clearly she could handle herself, but next thing you know she is being ragdolled around and in need of rescue from the men folk. Ugh…
Zac: Yeah, why couldn’t they have given her a big Legolas moment of elven ass kicking. I kept waiting for it and it never came.
Lauren: Big boo indeed. I guess it didn’t take long to get me back to complaining… Let’s see… What else did I enjoy… I know I was laughing at Cate Blanchett when she suddenly turned into a demonic drowned woman yelling at a really unimpressive Sauron surrounded by his band of ghost kings. They really liked dropping people’s voices in post, didn’t they? But that was more of an “oh goodness” laugh than something they were going for, so it doesn’t count. Guess I’m out!
Zac: I loved the Sauron scene! Saruman kicking ass! Cate Blanchett’s badass mode! And I like how it was a nice culmination to that LOTR set up thread running throughout these Hobbit films. Actually, the set up I liked the most was Legolas’ last beat. The next time we hear him talk he is telling Boromir Aragon’s real name, and that was perfect.
I mean, there isn’t a lot wrong with the movie (besides Unibrow), but something about it just doesn’t feel complete. I also had a bad projection, maybe I will update my thoughts when I see it in IMAX 48FPS next week.
Lauren: Or just read the book. If I want to revisit this story, that’s what I’m going to do. It’ll probably take less time.
Zac: Key Word: Probably.
Lauren: Then definitely. It will definitely take less time.