Movie of the Month: The Hobbit, Battle of the Five Armies

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve put off seeing the last installment of the Hobbit trilogy. It’s not that I didn’t want to see it, but I was disappointed with the first two and so when the third finally rolled around  the excitement simply wasn’t there to rush out and see it.

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Most Lord of the Rings fans agree that turning the Hobbit into a trilogy was a huge mistake on the part of the lovely people at New Line Studios. The book of the Hobbit is tiny and the choice to turn it into an 8+ hour-long saga was purely a marketing decision. They thought it would bring in the same huge crowds and mania that LOTR did.

It might have worked, had the world of Middle Earth been new.

Because we are all very familiar with the sights and spectacle of Middle Earth it doesn’t hold our attention as long. That, and there simply no epic setting reveals like there were in LOTR. In LOTR there was the introduction of Hobbiton, Lothlorien, Rivendale, Gondor, and the halls of Moria, to name a few. These settings were dramatic and beautiful and captured the imagination. In Hobbit there really isn’t anything that can rival them. The halls of Thranduil don’t quite measure up to the other Elven realms and the the Dwarvish interiors of the lonely mountain are not as impressive as what we saw before in Moria.

Which brings us to the story. Because the Hobbit was a short book, and one of the rare instances where it would actually be faster to read the book than to see the movies, lots of extra material had to be added to flesh out the story. Much of this material is pulled from Tolkien’s supplemental material and stays true to the history and cultures of Middle Earth, and to that effect makes the Hobbit an enjoyable movie to anyone who is a fan of Tolkien’s works.

However, for those who need a movie that doesn’t drag along through lengthy exposition and introductions, the Hobbit was a bit of a chore to watch. Much of the scenes that were supposed to create sympathy for lead characters ended up being forced and well, boring.

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As for the final chapter of the Hobbit, it has its fair share of thrills and spills and emotionally charged material. We finally see the defeat of the dragon, but with it comes the near downfall of Thorin, the Dwarvish king. With Smaug out of the way, Thorin can take the lonely mountain throne at last, and with it, its massive trove of dragon gold. Dragon gold brings with it intense greed and paranoia which infects Thorin, turning him against his kin.

The mountain hold and it’s treasure attract the armies all fighting for what they believe they are entitled to. Men, elves, orcs, dwarves, and eagles all join in the fight. Thorin, with the help of Bilbo and his kin, is reminded what is really important and leads the charge against the orcs. The fight doesn’t go well, there are heavy losses on all sides. Thranduil hates that elvish blood is being spilled for what he deems a fruitless endeavor. Bard, the reluctant leader of men, does his best to protect his people. In the end it’s the dwarves who pay the heaviest price.

In a scene much like when Boromir dies in LOTR, Thorin pays for the victory against the Orc general, Azog, by sacrificing himself. The movie ends on a bittersweet note where the good guys win but we ask ourselves, was it worth it?

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After everything, I give the last installment of the Hobbit a 6 out of 10. I liked it, it was enjoyable, but in the end it didn’t quite meet my expectations. It moved slowly, many of the emotional scenes felt forced, and in the end we didn’t get our happy ending.

Did you see The Hobbit? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “Movie of the Month: The Hobbit, Battle of the Five Armies

  1. I liked them. I agree with a lot of your points. To be honest, I have no problem with the Hobbit being made into two or three movie because (as with the LOTR), Tolkien had a nasty habit of summarizing events instead of spending more time on them. Probably because of the omniscient POV he chose to write with. For instance, they stayed in Rivendell for weeks (likewise in Mirkwood), but the events are summarized like a montage (roughly a paragraph in Rivendell). Naturally, a movie is going to be longer just because they had to flesh out those scenes. I think it still could have been three movies. There were things that needed to be cut, and other things I think he could have spent more time on like Mirkwood. I think the flaws with the movie are less due to the length and more to do with some polishing issues. I’m not sure if he was given the same time frame to write, produce, film these movies as LOTR. I think with more planning, they would have been better, but I still greatly enjoy them.

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    • I hadn’t thought of how using the omniscient POV would have affected things, you make a good point. Originally the whole trilogy was supposed to be directed by Guillermo Del Toro. I’m glad they got Peter Jackson on board so that there was a cohesive feel between the Hobbit and LOTR. I’d like to go back and watch the earlier two Hobbit movies again now that the trilogy is complete.

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