Determining whether or not a particular fan is going to enjoy Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies may not really boil down adaptation versus source material, it may come down to tolerance for inconsistency.
Either way, it could become a recipe for a fan’s disappointment.
I loved what Jackson did with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy despite some of the editorial liberties. That was a series that truly needed all three movies to tell the tale properly.
The paperback version of The Hobbit I read as a boy was just over 300 pages, and could have been very easily split into two very detailed movies instead of spreading it over three.
Unfortunately, Jackson felt it was necessary to add a third act for a new trilogy. In the end it made the entire trilogy seem like what Bilbo said in Fellowship of the Ring about feeling thin, “sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”
While the movie looks good for the most part, the CGI at times seemed somewhat problematic and over-utilized. Some visuals were not nearly as smooth as with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy or even earlier films of The Hobbit Trilogy.
Entirely too much time is devoted to Legolas’ crazy acrobatics, which were clunky for digitally produced effects. Also some of the skirmish level battle effects were just as stiff, unfluid, and more suited for video game cinematic sequences than a Hollywood blockbuster movie.
There were also unnecessarily long slow motion shots that did nothing but add length to the run time of the movie. Substituting CGI in place of practical effects may have been more cost-effective, but it takes away that element of realism it lent to The Rings trilogy.
Legolas in general has been bothering me since the first movie of this new trilogy, as it seems that a lot of time was spent digitally enhancing his face or plastering on way too much makeup to alter Orlando Bloom’s aged appearance.
It has been over a decade since the first trilogy was made so it’s understandable he may be showing some age, but whatever they did to alter his appearance is hellaciously distracting.
Of course, he could have been left out all together since he wasn’t even in the book to begin with.
The story moves quickly over its 144 min time-frame, but unfortunately ends without clearing up questions that arise during the movie as well as the previous two.
Seeing as how they dedicated three movies to The Hobbit there shouldn’t be any thing left unsaid.
What is the story behind the strife between Legolas and his father, Thranduil. in relation to Legolas’ mother? Or better yet, why introduce a plot point that was completely unnecessary? What of the Elven treasure within The Lonely Mountain that the Elves were willing to go to war over?
Why bother showing the large worms known as The Earth Eaters if they are never seen being dealt with or engaged during battle? What happens to the people of Lake-town, and more importantly to Bard? What becomes of the massive treasure within Erebor?
There are many more queries I could seek answers for, but like Mick Jagger once said, “if you start me up, I’ll never stop”.
For the most part, the performances were good. Martin Henderson gave a what I felt was a really good portrayal of Bilbo Baggins from beginning to end. Henderson skillfully exhibited the sometimes conflicted nature of a Hobbit seeking the capacity for goodness that he truly believes anyone can hold within.
Ian McKellen again strives for solidarity amongst the inhabitants of Middle Earth in another grand portrayal of Gandalf.
While Richard Armitage did give a good performance as Thorin, I was expecting a lot more of a change in the character towards the end of the trilogy. Thorin was supposed to be crazed by a greed called “dragon sickness” brought on by the cursed gold of Erebor.
I was expecting there to be a much more maniacal nature to Thorin’s greed than there actually ended up being. Luke Evan’s offered up an effective portrayal as Bard. Evan’s was able to emulate a level of caring and compassion that Bard not only feels for his son and daughters but for all the inhabitants of his home of Lake-town.
Cate Blanchette, Hugo Weaving, and Christopher Lee made good use of what screen time they had, which wasn’t much. Evangeline Lilly was fairly good as Tauriel, even though her character was truly extraneous.
Ryan Gage, as Alfrid Lickspittle, truly gave the most annoying performance of the film. Alfrid was obviously supposed to a similar character to that of Grima Wormtongue from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but came off as a lazy and conniving brat rather than an underhanded and scheming scoundrel.
I had really high hopes for this trilogy after seeing what Jackson did with The Lord of the Rings. I don’t know whether to think that the idea to split the movie to three parts was more a studio motivated revenue grab or Jackson’s idea.
While this is obviously a cinematic cut, who’s to say whether a director’s cut will be any better when the entire trilogy is finally released on home video. Too many characters were made secondary that should have been given more primary consideration, in favor of characters and plot-lines that should never even entered into the equation.
While this movie will win the battle of the box office it didn’t win the place in my heart where my love of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth Saga lives.