The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Year: 2014
Production Co: Wingnut Films
Studio: Warner Bros/New Line/MGM
Director: Peter Jackson
Producer: Peter Jackson/Fran Walsh
Writer: Peter Jackson/Fran Walsh/Phillipa Boyens/Guillermo Del Toro
Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Billy Connolly, Stephen Fry, Ian Holm

If Peter Jackson had enough of a sense of humour and Warner Bros let him, this movie could have been called The Hobbit: Those Fucking Eagles Again.

When those giant eagles came and picked Frodo and Sam up from the side of Mt Doom after they threw The Ring into the lava and banished Sauron, we were all a bit too awed at the spectacle to say to ourselves 'hang on, why didn't the bloody eagles fly them all the way there instead of letting them walk through all that terror and hardship? Come to that, why didn't the eagles just drop the ring into the fire from a great height themselves?'

Each time, it got a little bit obvious. Why didn't they just pick Gandalf (Ian McKellen) up from Saruman's (Christopher Lee) tower straight away when he was imprisoned by his former ally in The Two Towers? Why didn't they take Bilbo (Tim Freeman) and the elves all the way to Mount Erebor at the end of An Unexpected Journey instead of dropping them off a hundred miles away within sight of their goal on a mountaintop they'd only have to climb down from?

After six films of those giant eagles showing up just in the nick of time when they could have solved the whole problem, it's simply ridiculous when they turn up again in The Battle of The Five Armies.

And that's the whole problem with the film when seen in the context of everything that's come before it, including the Lord of the Rings films. In 2001 we'd never seen all these tropes – the massive monsters, the armies of orc/goblin/troll things with horsemen or battering rams plowing them aside off bridges, the great slabs of stone smashing the walls of mountainside cities... and the giant eagles with the worst timing in movie history.

There's just nothing new here. The structure of The Hobbit trilogy itself is a virtual retread of the Rings films with its central quest across inhospitable lands full of enemies. There's even a motif of dwarf Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) being driven mad with power at all the gold they've captured in Smaug's (Benedict Cumberbatch) former stronghold. Remind you of anything else besides Gollum turning the same way because of The Ring?

And it's all in the shadow of not only the original films but the army of copies that use the same CGI software to generate armies clashing on battlefields. We've seen it a million times.

When we left Bilbo and the gang last time, Smaug has broken out of the halls full of gold and gone to attack Lake City. He lays waste to most of the inhabitants and their wooden houses, but Thorin hardly cares. Now ensconced with his riches, he's obsessed with finding the arkenstone Bilbo already has (but is keeping a secret, seeing what it will do to the King).

Meanwhile Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Saruman and Elrond (Hugo Weaving) stage a prison break to get Gandalf out of Sauron's fortress, and Azog is preparing to lay siege to Erebor with two armies.

Meanwhile, Thorin has sent a message to his mad dwarvish cousin Dain (Billy Connolly), who brings another army to the fields in front of the mountain, and it isn't too long before the CGI shitstorm of the title breaks out. Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and all the other main characters join in to slash, hack and leap all over the screen as the bodies pile up.

At only two and a half hours, it feels like Jackons's finally learnt not to overstay his welcome, and unlike the Rings trilogy, it ends crisply and decisively. He'll do himself and all of us a favour if he does the same with Middle Earth altogether, and turns his undeniable talent in a new direction.

© 2011-2023 Filmism.net. Site design and programming by psipublishinganddesign.com | adambraimbridge.com | humaan.com.au