Peter Jackson’s venture into Middle Earth ends in an underwhelming note with his Battle of the Five Armies, albeit delivering some vividly shot battle sequences and well-ended character arcs. How is this movie the weakest of the sextet Middle Earth films?
The story picks up where we left off with “Desolation of Smaug” when Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his company of dwarves drive Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) from Erebor, only for the dragon to unleash his fury on Laketown. Soon, Thorin’s paranoia, greed, and distrust grows as he tries to search for the arkenstone amidst the vast treasure horde of Erebor.
Azog the Defiler (Manu Bennett) also leads an army of Orcs to march against Thorin, while King Thranduil (Lee Pace) marches his own woodland warrior elves to help stake his claim on a portion of Erebor’s treasure. Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) acts as reluctant leader for the people of Laketown, who are now distraught and homeless from Smaug’s recent attack.
This sets the stage for one epic battle showdown between dwarves, elves, orcs, wizards, and man that will determine, once and for all, who’ll lay claim to the Lonely Mountain and the treasures in it.
Visually, this 3rd Hobbit film sets the bar very high when it comes to costume design, fight choreography, props, and CGI use. When the Elven warriors jumped from the dwarf phalanx? That was a beauty. However, there is no innovative use of 3D aerial shots or camera components. The action/combat scenes even feel forced or too video game-ish. Normally, Legolas (Orlando Bloom) shooting down massive orcs and destroying tall towers would be amazeballs. But in this film, it just doesn’t feel organic. Despite the massive and highly-detailed settings like Dol Guldur, the Lonely Mountain, Laketown, Gundabad, and the Shire, the use of 3D isn’t as creative as we’d like it to be and isn’t worth the extra ticket fee.
Though the thematic arc about greed is certainly celebrated, it feels as though only a handful of characters are given the chance to fully explore and expand their acting chops. Even the love dynamic between Tauriel (Evangeline Lily) and Kili (Aidan Turner) is something we can’t completely empathize with, unlike the Aragorn-Arwen love story in LOTR.
Its Thorin and Bilbo who take the cake here. Richard Armitage shows impressive portrayal of his character Thorin, whose slow descent into madness and then redemption played for a very nice character arc.
Even Martin Freeman and his humble, charming, and plucky Bilbo Baggins plays out well; the reluctant but brave hobbit. His scenes with Thorin are perhaps the most engaging, second only to scenes with Thranduil, Gandalf (Ian McKellen), or Galadriel (Cate Blanchett).
The Necromancer battle at Dol Guldur was epic (because of course Christopher Lee as Saruman and Hugo Weaving as Lord Elrond), but it still was an unnecessary addition that felt forced in the editing and sequencing.
This final trip into Middle Earth (NOOOOOOOOOOO! Okay, I’m calm 😀 ) may be somewhat underwhelming, but it still brings a satisfying end to the journey simply by bringing life to the characters and settings and ending the film with the prologue to LOTR.
For that, I applaud. 😀