“Will you follow me, one last time?”
Not only is Thorin asking his dwarves to follow him one last time into battle, but Peter Jackson is also asking us to join him one last time in experiencing his vision of Middle Earth. We all know The Hobbit was one short book (about 300 pages), but Jackson decided to adapt it into three full length movies so there is going to be a lot of characters and elements included that aren’t in the book. J.R.R Tolkien fans might be upset and most audiences agree that Jackson made a mistake in stretching the material because this trilogy hasn’t had the same emotional impact as the Lord of the Rings trilogy had. However, Jackson is still asking us to accompany him one last time into Middle Earth in order to tie everything together. He and the producers may have experienced their share of dragon fever by getting greedy and wanting to bank on the success of their first trilogy (it is kind of ironic when you take into account that the underlying message of the novels is that greed destroys the soul), but they are asking us to join them for one last time, and they deserve it. If you are a fan of the franchise this will be an emotional moment for you, but if you don’t care much for this world then you will find the film annoying. It does tie in the first two films of The Hobbit trilogy very well with The Lord of the Rings so it serves as a sort of closure for these epic films. At 144 minutes, this is the shortest film of the franchise and you sort of get the feeling that Jackson doesn’t know how to sum things up in less than 3 hours because this film feels rushed and overstuffed with characters and subplots. It also happens to be action packed with a battle scene lasting for almost an hour. It may be a bit too much, but there is no denying that Peter Jackson cares deeply for the material here and is devoted to it. Despite not being nearly as engaging as The Lord of the Ring trilogy, The Hobbit has its emotional moments with strong action sequences and some solid performances. Jackson is asking us to follow him for the last time, but it is up to us to decide if his passion and dedication is worth the journey. I joined him and was mildly entertained although I found several flaws. Despite not being as entertaining as The Desolation of Smaug, this is still an improvement over The Unexpected Journey.
The Battle of the Five Armies picks up right where The Desolation of Smaug left us, giving me the feeling that I had paused the film and waited a whole year before hitting the play button once again. It took me a while to recall everything that had been going on, but with the opening action sequence I had to rush those memories in order to understand everything that was going on. The Hobbit is actually one film divided into three parts which makes it difficult to analyze apart from each other. There is a sense of cohesion among these films and we finally get the concluding chapter after an agonizing and extended fist part which felt completely stretched out and an entertaining second chapter where we were introduced to new and familiar characters and an impressive dragon voiced by the great Benedict Cumberbatch. This third chapter picks up with that very dragon destroying the nearby village where Bard (Luke Evans) and his children are. The film begins with an impressive action sequence and then the next hour is dedicated to build up what will be the ultimate battle scene with five different armies preparing for battle. This is where the movie begins to feel convoluted and overstuffed with subplots that feel too rushed. But at times the film does succeed when it centers on the relationship between Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and Thorin (Richard Armitage). We know that Jackson knows how to deliver spectacular visuals and action sequences, but what was missing from The Lord of the Rings trilogy was that character development we finally got to see here with these two characters. Unfortunately there are other elements included that don’t work too well (like the love triangle between Kili, Legolas, and Tauriel that feels misplaced). The build up and the action scenes might be a bit too much for audiences, and ultimately the film fails to stand out from other epics. It is an average film that has its ups and downs, but still manages to bring closure. Unfortunately this trilogy never lives up to the grandeur of The Lord of the Rings.