Can you believe it? Another Tolkien trilogy meets its end this year. And it felt like only yesterday when I was sitting in a cinema watching Return Of The King, desperate to go relieve my bladder of cheap Coke and being told by that damn usher that the way was shut. The way was SHUT. The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies looks set to throw everything and the kitchen sink into one massive film and third act. And according to early buzz, it does beautifully.
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES is non-stop & awesome. Can’t wait to see it again. Sad our Middle Earth adventure is over.
— Steven Weintraub (@colliderfrosty) December 1, 2014
— LatinoReview-Kel (@Latinoreview) December 1, 2014
It’s easier now to see the entire “Hobbit” project as a labor of love on Jackson’s part, rather than a descent into crass box-office opportunism. Where the first two films often felt like a marking of time by a director intent on fattening his own Smaug-like coffers, “The Battle of the Five Armies” contains a series of emotional payoffs and bridges to the “Lord of the Rings” films that work as well as they do for having been carefully seeded by Jackson in the previous episodes. And if none of the “Hobbit” films resonate with “Rings’” mythic grandeur, it’s hard not to marvel at Jackson’s facility with these characters and this world, which he seems to know as well as John Ford knew his Monument Valley, and to which he here bids an elegiac adieu.
So even if we have not, over the course of eight hours, become “close” to these characters, they have been sufficiently amiable traveling companions to make for a tolerably decent odyssey, more so than one could have imagined during the first hour of An Unexpected Journey, which was excruciating enough to make you want to jump off the ride before it was too late. But the final stretch of The Battle of the Five Armies possesses a warm, amiable, sometimes rueful mood that proves ingratiating and manages to magnify the good and minimize the bad of the trilogy. Financial considerations entirely to the side, in retrospect one senses that the ideal screen adaptation of The Hobbit would have been a two-part venture, as planned by original director Guillermo del Toro, and not the overstuffed three-parter that ultimately emerged.
Minor issues aside, this is another grand spectacle that does a fine job wrapping things up without offering nearly as many of the memorable moments of its predecessor… or “The Lord of the Rings” as a whole.
Although the climactic battle affords Jackson & Co. an opportunity to send the cast off with a “bang,” the majority of the supporting characters introduced or expanded upon in the Hobbit motion picture trilogy finally exit with nary a farewell glance. What becomes of Bard? Of Alfrid? Of Radagast? Of Thranduil? These would be inconsequential questions in a simple tale about a Hobbit venturing into the great wide world, but in an enormous super-narrative – in which audiences are expected to develop an interest in these characters’ lives – they demand answers which, for some reason, despite the many other additions Jackson & Co. made to Tolkien’s novel, are never satisfactorily given.
Last Updated: December 2, 2014