Saturday, December 27, 2014
Movie Review: "The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies" (2014) - The Battle To Stay Awake
One of the worst crimes that a film can commit is failing to draw you in to its story and characters, thus the audience is uninterested and does not care about anything that happens.
This very rarely happens in cinema, as there is always something to catches the eye that you want to see more of. The last time I truly did not care about any of the events in a film was "Star Trek: Insurrection" due to the incredibly small scope about villagers on a planet who just want to be left alone.
Which is why it is sad to admit that "The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies" is one of these films that does not try to pull the audience in with captivating stories or complex and timeless characters, but rather with eye candy and the allure of Middle Earth.
I understand this film is the finale to Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy and acts as the climax to a story that is told over the course of three movies. However, when looking at each film in its own right, "The Battle Of The Five Armies" holds up terribly due to its lack of drive and focus.
"The Unexpected Journey" showed the audience a new side to Middle Earth that we had not seen in "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy, such as trolls, Radagast, rock giants and especially Smaug. "The Desolation Of Smaug," while having pacing problems and lack of character development, still had some gripping and impressive scenes, in particular anything involving the charismatic yet terrifying Smaug.
"The Battle Of The Five Armies" has none of those aspects, as the conflict with Smaug is solved within the first ten minutes and then spends the rest of the time pandering around until we get to what the film is named after. Everything the last two films have built up comes to a head, with armies of Dwarves, Elves and Orcs converging on the kingdom of Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) to reclaim the gold and treasures of the mountain.
The problem could lie in that only one of the thirteen dwarves got any sort of character development, Thorin, and the rest are just comic relief or serve no purpose altogether. Another could be that all the development was in the last two films, leaving "The Battle Of The Five Armies" with little to say about these characters we have followed for the last few years.
The great thing about "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy was that each film worked on its own, without needing to see the other two to enjoy it. This was because each character was likable, relevant, complex and could kick ass when it was needed. But with this film, they only seem to be interested in the ass kicking part.
For example, there is a scene early on where Gandalf (Ian McKellen) is overrun by the forces of evil, but is saved by two characters who play bigger roles in later trilogy, yet are only in one scene in this trilogy. While these two are pulling off some impressive moves, it does not add anything to the plot or advance their characters. This scene could have been cut from the film and it would not have changed anything.
However, there are some scenes worth mentioning. The fore mentioned scene is one example, but another is during Thorin's mad dash to block anyone from getting inside the mountain. Through all of this chaos, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) pulls Thorin aside to show him what he will take back with him to the Shire - an acorn.
It is a quiet scene between two characters who have mutual respect for each other. It does not need a bunch of flashy special effects or fight sequences to get your attention. Sometimes, and by that I mean most of the time, all you need is well-written and likable character interaction.
Overall though, "The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies" nearly put me to sleep. Even though there is plenty of well-executed action sequences, none of that means anything if we do not care about the characters in those fights. Everyone is either poorly developed or not developed at all. Major moments that are supposed to be met with gasps and shock, are met with indifference and a shrug of the shoulders.
Let this film be a lesson on how not to make captivating and worthwhile characters, and by extension, fight scenes.
Final Grade: D