The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ★★★½

In theaters December 17, 2014.

My disappointment with The Hobbit films runs pretty deep, but to be fair the deck has been stacked against them from the beginning.

I love Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings adaptations. They came at a time in my life when escape was needed and those films fit the bill like no other. Fantastical adventures formed around spirited friendships, the ultimate battle of good-vs-evil, and movie-making that flawlessly towed the line between old-school practical-effects magic and new-school cgi-wonders. They are the total package for me. A perfect trilogy.

And then The Hobbit movies, which despite the tone of this review thus far I don't hate. They are but a shell of the originals, a fleshing out of a story that didn't need fleshing. Had the book been adapted in a way that truly made it stand alone I think it may have had a shot to have been something special. As it is, the series stands as a setup 11 years late to a party that has already been celebrated.

Oh yea... If you like The Hobbit series thus far, you will probably love 'Armies' - it's a lot of more of the same. The film is essentially one action set-piece after another starting with the Smaug the dragon's attack on Lake-town, followed by the Battle of Dol Guldur, which leads into the epic Battle of Five Armies, and then the film wraps everything else up nice and tidy in a much faster way than 'Return' did in the first series.

The acting is what it has been so far in the first two films, ditto the effects (which I find to be cartoonish) - and there are still FAR too many sweeping shots of cgi landscapes, townships, and castle-rubble. The music is unmemorable but fitting, like the rest of the film.

Make no mistake: The Hobbit series in general including The Battle for the Five Armies is competent filmmaking - there are much worse, some even offensive (*cough* Star Wars Prequels) - it's just nothing special.

Discussed in full on episode #91of the Cinereelist podcast.

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