The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Peter Jackson, 2014)
Let me preface this by saying: I have only ever seen the first Lord of the Rings film, I found it boring, I watched the first two Hobbit films half-heartedly on television/DVD, and I still maintain that Peter Jackson’s best movie is King Kong (2005), followed by The Lovely Bones. In other words, I am not a Tolkien fan girl by any stretch.I am yet to meet anyone who thinks that breaking The Hobbit up into three films was actually a good idea, and even the biggest diehards seem to be disappointed with this trilogy. I’ve heard criticisms that there is too much walking around in The Hobbit. While this is true, and it does make it a bit dull, I can’t help but think: that’s exactly what happens in LOTR too (or at least the one I watched). I don’t fully comprehend the love for one trilogy and disdain for the other but I suppose it relates to the drawing out of one book into three films.
The final Hobbit begins with Benedict Cumber-dragon terrorising Laketown, before moving onto a battle involving five armies – dwarves, good elves, bad orcs, villagers, and more bad orcs. I feel the title is a little misleading because I anticipated a five-way battle and I was let down in this respect. The good guys also succeeded way too easily – constantly defeating the opposition when they were outnumbered and much, much, smaller. And then Legolas ran up some crumbling ruins in some of the worst CGI I’ve seen in a long time.
The filmmakers chucked a new female character into this trilogy in what I can only assume was an effort to make it less sexist, but they don’t really succeed with it still being the massive boys club that it is. Kate from Lost is part of a love triangle with a guy who looks like John Stamos and a not at all attractive Orlando Bloom (where did people get this ridiculous idea that Legolas is hot? He’s almost Lucius Malfoy) Obviously Sawyer John Stamos is the right choice. Cate Blanchett also shows up temporarily and acts like this isn’t all beneath her, but this trilogy most definitely fails the Bechdel test.
Acting wise, Martin Freeman is the highlight, being the character who provides the most laughs, though I did also love the big fat ranga on the tuba. I’m rather partial to Lee Pace as well (Guardians of the Galaxy excepted). The cast are all decent and it’s fun to see some cameos by some well-respected Brits, though it’s almost impossible to take their characters seriously. I was surprised by how many of the cast members were unfamiliar, though I suppose this helps with sweeping viewers up into the fantasy – until the cameos turn up at least.
Although there was some hideous CGI in parts, for the most part The Hobbit is stunning to look at, with some impressive visual effects and overall glorious production design (and the natural beauty of New Zealand). This aspect, along with the magic, makes me really want to like Tolkien. But it’s just not as fun as Harry Potter. Give me witches, give me women (OK, so most of the Harry Potter films failed the Bechdel test too), give me teenagers, give me laughs, give me villains who are played by actors and not just CGI’d in, and at least be truthful about the fact that long white hair on a guy is never appealing. But most importantly, give me more than just walking and fighting. It ain’t that entertaining.