Over the weekend, I was able to see the final Hobbit film; The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, directed by Peter Jackson. The third and final installment of the trilogy, Battle of the Five Armies marks the end of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the J.R.R Tolkien novel.
This post will be partly a review, but mostly a general overview on my feelings toward the trilogy. Unlike The Lord of the Rings, the massively successful and popular trilogy that preceded it, The Hobbit is a story I am personally more invested in. It was the only one of Tolkien’s novels I read as a child, and later read once more in university. I have not read any other Tolkien work.
The Hobbit is a story I very much enjoyed, while I haven’t even gotten farther than buying a copy of The Lord of the Rings (I will read the trilogy one day, but I see it taking me a while to get to). That being said, I was a lot more excited about the Hobbit movies than I was Lord of the Rings, despite enjoying the latter for what they were.
I have heard many people bring up or point out that The Hobbit did not need to be stretched into three movies, and while my more cynical side agrees, I didn’t necessarily have a problem with it either. The Hobbit was a book written for a younger audience, unlike the later books, so it didn’t take its time and indulge in the world as much as it could. A lot of details or sequences are more glossed over, which I feel the movies did a good job of fleshing out and shaping to be more in tune with the previous trilogy of films.
There were many points while watching the movies that friends of mine would ask if so-and-so sequence took place in the books, and to their surprise they did. Expanding the book into several films allowed them to take their time with the material, and it really showed in a way that I enjoyed. Oftentimes a lot of interesting moments from a written work get lost in the transition to the screen, so it was good to see so much represented.
Battle of the Five Armies continued the series in kind, fleshing out a part of the novel that — as I remember — was most significantly glossed over. However, this film is where I felt they had really stretched out the run time of the series the most. To its credit, though, for a film that was predominantly battle scenes, it did not feel its length and I was fairly well invested the whole way through. This is actually pretty significant to me, because a lot of the Lord of the Rings films began to drag for me toward the end.
The problem I had was that the entire film felt like a climax, but there was no build up for it contained within the film’s individual narrative. Had I perhaps watched The Desolation of Smaug again I might have felt them flow together nicely, but that doesn’t excuse the. Ultimately, I found it to be a minor shortcoming, that didn’t take away from the experience too much. I just would have preferred it feel more like its own self-contained story, in a similar way that the other two did.
Another lower point of the film for me was, unlike the previous two, it didn’t have a big defining scene that really jumped out at you. An Unexpected Journey had the riddles in the dark scene with Gollum, and Desolation of Smaug had Bilbo’s confrontation with Smaug. Both scenes in their respective films were great defining moments for each that really helped make them more memorable. No particular sequence in Battle of the Five Armies felt the same for me, so the experience felt comparatively lacking.
All in all, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was a great conclusion to the Hobbit trilogy that didn’t wow me, but also didn’t feel unworthy of the story. If you’re a fan of Middle-Earth and The Hobbit and are excited to see the conclusion, it shouldn’t disappoint. I just definitely would not recommend anybody start here.