The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

I’ve been meaning to write about the final (surely to goodness) Hobbit movie for a while now, but have been hampered by not really knowing what to say. I feel like it should have been a really big deal, given the bajillions of dollars and gazillions of people involved, but… let’s put it this way: the An Unexpected Journey disappointed me by being a bit “blah”, The Desolation if Smaug cheered me up by being much more entertaining, and then this film undid that good work by going back to “blah” again.

Truth be told, I was already a little wary going in to this one; lengthy on-screen battles tend to bore/bewilder me (as I’ve said before, I still have no idea what was actually going on during the battle of Helms Deep; please don’t feel the need to tell me) so the movie’s title didn’t exactly gee me up. But the actual battling was fine – the CGI was hugely impressive, at any rate, and, as a spectacle, it worked beautifully. Spectacle alone isn’t enough to make up for poor dialogue, an embarrassing “comedy” sub-plot, and the time wasted on storylines or characters which frankly did my head in, though.

On the dialogue front, I was one of the minority of people who didn’t have a problem with the love triangle in Smaug, but the mortifyingly asinine lines that Tauriel had to spout this time around and the fact it ended up being the most pointless insta-love triangle of all time have now changed my mind. Good grief. Aidan Turner’s Kili was irresistibly sincere (and handsome) but even he couldn’t rescue this storyline, albeit not for want of trying.

Still, at least they rehabilitated Legolas this time around; gone was his Smaug prissiness and back was the noble(ish) bad-ass I assume he was always supposed to be. Lucky for him, I guess; others were not so fortunate. King Thorin behaved like a total asshat for most of the film and yes, I know, Dragon Sickness blah blah, but since all it took to cure this almost demonic possession was a succession of stern talking-tos, I struggled to sympathise or invest in the character, even though it unpopcult favourite Richard Armitage was emoting away under the wig and the, er, mountain.

And as for the several thousand hours this film spent trying to convince us that that Lickspittle fellow and his cowardice/greed were funny… let me just clear that up right now. Nothing about that character, his scenes, his dialogue, his costumes, or the 900 years of screen time he was given at the expense of the other characters, the film and my sanity was “funny.” Unless “funny” now means “makes me want to punch myself in the face just to MAKE. IT. STOP.”

Sigh. It sounds like I absolutely hated the film, but I didn’t really. I did enjoy parts of it, thanks largely to the ensemble of brilliant actors – as well as Armitage and Turner, we had the wonderful Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett et al – all doing their damnedest, but I was deeply frustrated by the fact that the material they were working with never rose above mediocre. A magnificent cast, a load of cash and the some of the best special effects in the business – and yet, for me, The Hobbit trilogy began and ended with little more than a shrug and a yawn. Shame.


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