Saturday, December 13, 2014


Release date (India):
December 12, 2014
Peter Jackson

Most people who were in the earlier Hobbit films & some from the LOTR series

The final Hobbit film in Peter Jackson’s second Tolkien trilogy is a magnificent spectacle. It is also a magnificent bore.

The special effects and camerawork are impeccable no doubt, but after a point – with a handful of exceptional sequences – all that it is is more of what we’ve already seen ever since Jackson released his first film in The Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) trilogy in 2001. I mean, how many more times will we gasp at those same mythical creatures with a few additions per film, those panoramic views of breathtaking natural scenery, those spectacular kingdoms, the dragon Smaug from the last film, the rivers of gold stashed away in the innards of a mountain? We get it, Mr Jackson – you are a king of visual wonderment. We get it too that you are in love with J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. Now stop it, please. Unless you can show us something vastly different to the eye from what’s gone before, do get back to telling us a story, please.

For the very few people left in this world coming in late on this, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies is the third film Jackson has derived from Tolkien’s fantasy novel The Hobbit, first published almost a century back. This book was the precursor to Tolkien’s LOTR trilogy, which was made into three films by Jackson before he began exploring The Hobbit in three parts (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and this latest film, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies). Ergo, Jackson has worked in reverse order with this. 

The Battle Of The Five Armies begins with Smaug attacking the humans of Lake Town to punish them for giving refuge to the dwarves. Bard attacks the marauding creature and takes off with his people to claim the share promised to them by the dwarves from the treasure of the Lonely Mountain, so that they can rebuild their lives. Whatever little is left of the plot is geared towards gathering armies of orcs, elves, dwarves and humans at the mountain for that one final clash of the title.

After the initial set-up for the battle, there’s little by way of story or narrative depth, and the battle is painfully stretched. It goes without saying that the special effects are of high quality (C’mon, that’s a given! This is Peter Jackson we’re talking about!) but most of it has been recycled from the earlier films and there’s little here that’s conceptually innovative and exclusive to this particular production.

It starts with promise though. The deadly Smaug is far more effectively explored here than in the second Hobbit film. The initial scenes of the dragon raining fire on Lake Town are heart-stoppingly beautiful and handled with a difference. There’s another lovely scene during the battle when a massive stone structure is collapsing, and the elf Legolas uses the falling rocks as a stairway-like bridge across a chasm, stepping on each one just in the nick of time before it descends too far down. And during a hand-to-hand fight on thin ice between the dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield and Azog, there is thought invested in that one moment designed to make the audience chuckle and go, “Oh, I didn’t think of that.”

Three sequences in an entire two-and-a-half hour film, the familiar strains of Howard Shore’s lovely background score which remains elevating and a mood song playing over the end credits ain’t enough though to justify the existence of the film for any reason other than the fact that Tolkien’s classics are bestsellers even today, that the LOTR trilogy was an international money-spinner and that the Tolkien-Jackson brand value is expected to make even this one a box-office success. Those are calculations that corporate honchos make with all eyes on bottomlines and balance sheets – I have no argument with them.

My argument is with the film maker in Peter Jackson. With him, the bottomline is this: there is nothing in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies that explains why these three Hobbit films could not have been condensed into a single, incredibly fantastical, richly imagined film.

Rating (out of five): **

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
MPAA Rating (US):
147 minutes
PG-13 (for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images)
Release date in the US:
December 17, 2014

1 comment:

  1. Like the rest of the trilogy, it's not perfect. But, for the most part, is entertaining to say the least. Good review Anna.