The middle-earth saga is at an end: after six films and fourteen years, The Battle of the Five Armies draws the curtain over The Hobbit franchise and our cinematic love-affair with the Shire. How then does the final film fare: is it a worthy, last chapter, or a rather anti-climatic, splutter; proof for all the critics, that the book never should have been stretched so far?
Well, as you might expect from the title, The Battle of the Five Armies is pretty action packed: with the trailer doing very little to hide this. Filled with CGI battles on an epic proportion, it is almost the polar opposite to The Fellowship of the Ring which it eventually feeds into.
For some, this will be a problem: because while there are those who love the vast scale which CGI allows for, others find that it detracts from the story and can get rather tedious. Although I don’t fit exclusively into either of those camps, Fellowship is comfortably my favourite of all the middle-earth films, and I’m not at all surprised it uses the least amount of CGI.
But that didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying The Battle of the Five Armies. Unless you’re one of those annoying bastards who complains about everything, you don’t go to Nandos and moan that all they serve is chicken; in the same way that you don’t go and see a film called The Battle of the Five Armies, and then complain that there was too much fighting. I knew what to do expect, Peter Jackson delivered exactly what he set out to achieve, and I think it’s the best of the three Hobbit films.
I believe this is because as a film, it was finally released from what appeared to be the shackles of the book. There was very little left in terms of events to cover, and this allowed for a much simpler and more natural thread to run throughout.
However, this does not mean that it was without its faults. I assume that the love story between Tauriel and Kili was created to reflect and replace the romantic touch given by Aragorn and Arwen in The Lord of the Rings: but unfortunately this falls pretty flat, and always smacks of being contrived. Not only is the acting weaker, but one piece of dialogue is noticeably lame and comes at a time which is supposed to be highly emotionally charged. It is an added subplot that has brought very little to the table.
And then there is Alfrid: a slimy, cowering, weasel of a man, added into the mix to bring an element of comedy to the proceedings. If children find him amusing then fine, he serves a purpose: but if they don’t, he is just irritating.
Other than these slight bumps in the road though, I enjoyed the film. I’ve always liked Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, and I think he plays the role very well: particularly his interactions with Martin Freeman as Bilbo, who is the standout performer throughout all three films. And I think it is this relationship, more than any other, which holds The Hobbit trilogy together. These are by far the two most interesting characters, and personally, their interplay within the Lonely Mountain was the most memorable part of the entire film.
But, as the credits rolled, accompanied by the disappointing track “The Last Goodbye”, I was quite glad it was all over. Unless Peter Jackson comes out with a real humdinger, The Lord of the Rings will be his masterpiece, and I think it is evident that they, understandably, mean much more to him than The Hobbit. The former will be remembered as a set of important classics, while the latter will go down simply as a set of entertaining films. I can, and have, watched The Lord of the Rings more times than I can remember; but unless I was with someone who hasn’t seen The Hobbit, I don’t think I will bother actively putting them on.
Overall then I enjoyed The Hobbit trilogy: it wasn’t great, and I think it would have been better had it only been perhaps two films, but it was entertaining nonetheless. But that’s enough now. Don’t allow middle-earth to become another easy option for making money and continue-on needlessly after its sell-by date has expired.
I hope Peter Jackson takes note of Christopher Nolan’s recent example, and refuses to make any more middle-earth films, regardless of how much cash is thrown his way. So please Sir Peter, for all our sakes, stick to your word, and actually let this be the last goodbye.