When I first watched it, I loved The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. At some moments, I was awed by some of the most beautiful world creation I’ve ever seen in a film. At other parts, I marveled at certain actors’ abilities to draw me into their respective characters. I couldn’t look away as the action rose, I shed tears at the climax, and I exhaled generously at the resolution, satisfied. Of course, a year’s worth of waiting can cloud the mind and set expectations a little too high, because after I saw it a second time, I felt confused and (dared I say it) shortchanged. I had to shake myself free from the amour of the first viewing, take off my Eglantine-colored glasses, and think about the film with sober judgment. My conclusion: while exciting, engaging, and enchanting in its delivery, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies – in its attempt to tie up all of the loose ends ill-begotten by the first two films – spreads itself too thinly and stops itself short of what it could be.
The story was engaging and was never short on well-crafted action sequences – even if some were a tad gratuitous. The titular battle was glorious and terrifying whenever it needed to be either. The Dwarves, the Humans, and the Elves fought nobly against the two Orc armies, and it was all vividly and visually stunning (even if somewhat burdened by CGI). Some of the action sequences seemed either rushed or out of place altogether – specifically Smaug’s curtain call in the first scene as well as the brief but fierce battle at Dol Guldur a few minutes later.
Yes, it was exciting, but it was too divided, and I couldn’t relish the characters as much as I could the environment in which they lived. Martin Freeman hardly got the screen time one would think he would get, and thankfully he mastered whatever he got. Instead, more focus seemed to be on Lee Pace as Thranduil, who almost shared an equal amount of on-screen brooding as the dragon-sickness-suffering of Thorin.
Not to say that all of the acting was that predictable. All of the major players did the best with what they were given. Even Manu Bennett, who portrayed Azog the Defiler, has been getting plenty of praise from everyone from Shaq to Martin Scorsese, and I agree with those accolades. Sir Ian McKellen, as expected, brings the wise levity his Gandalf is known for, even as the denouement falls into place.
So, that’s it. Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, like I said, was a great experience at first, but I’m overall glad I watched it a second time because doing so deflated any of my illusions of grandeur. It has, however, instilled within me a desire to read the book for myself and see how much better of a story it is. Until then, I’m ultimately content with this Jacksonian trilogy, and I will not be bidding it a last goodbye anytime soon.