I reviewed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug but I put off reviewing Battle of the Five Armies for a long time because I find it rather upsetting to watch. It feels a bit like this movie is trolling me. It has some nice scenes particularly as Martin Freeman does an excellent performance as Bilbo, parts of the movie are very beautiful and well executed but then it will pull some bullsh*t to just ruin everything! Mainly it is CGI battle stunts which are the offenders. We got some of that in The Desolation of Smaug but Battle of the Five Armies is worse, possibly because CGI battles are the meat of the movie. There’s also too much filler which includes the Tauriel/Kili/Legolas love triangle and (shudder) Alfred.
The padding is a problem, and not only from a length perspective. It’s, ah, how it say this nicely? It’s… padded with sh*t, okay? Thrown in for comic relief Alfred is simply awful, and Alfred cross-dressing is even worse. He is the JarJar Binks of The Hobbit. Enough said. The love triangle is largely shots in slow-mo of long, lingering looks. Yes! Let’s slow this movie down even more! It adds nothing and ends pointlessly. Remember Kili and Tauriel, in fact, do not know each other! It also does a poor job at female representation since they damsel Tauriel.
If you can forgive impossible cartoony physics in the middle of your serious-toned fantasy epic you will probably enjoy Battle of the Five Armies a lot more than I did. If you can’t you may find yourself joining me in groans of “What?!” “No!” and Whyyy!??” Unsurprisingly it is easy to point at Legolas as the most obvious example of this; in one stand-out fight he runs out of arrows (le gasp) so instead executes a series of increasingly improbable stunts until he actually can defies gravity itself. Legolas is not the only character with physics problems. Bard also goes on a fairground-style cart ride through city streets (including cart-jumps somehow) against an unconvincing CGI enemy threatening his kids.
Have you heard of the women with impractical armour trope? Try Bad Guys with impractical armour. One guys ‘armour’ is metal plates wedged into his body. It’s remarkable he’s still alive! And yet despite this the armour offers practically zero protection because he has 90% flesh on show. Speaking of things it’s remarkable the bad guys survived lets talk about Peg-leg Troll. Briefly before Legolas’s grafity-defying act Legolas kills peg-leg Troll. Murdering the disabled or mercy-killing? You decide!
Peg-leg Troll has not just one, but (count them) two false legs. Yes both legs have been replaced by maces, and the fact he can walk on them is remarkable. It’s even more remarkable because Peg-leg Troll is also Blind and, stay with me, has had both of his hands replaced by flails. How he got to the battle is anybody’s guess. He’s about as effective as one might expect. But it does raise an interesting question: Where are all the Orc Doctors? Because they clearly have remarkable ones judging by all their troops who have not only survived incredible wounds (judging by the scars), shrapnel and lost limbs, but had said limbs replaced by weapons. Sure you can try to tell me they are just super tough, but they show Tauriel killing Orcs with one with a slice of her teensy-tiny dagger through armour – you can’t have it both ways. (Actually maybe I’m starting to understand why the high up Big Bad Evil Guys don’t bother with full armour – it does squat!)
Another CGI Elephant in the room is the fact that if there were a CGI Elephant it would probably stick out like a sore thumb. Actually it’s a bit weird because some things blend in fine but others, certain Orcs, Trolls and in particular Billy Connelly’s Dain the Dwarf look a bit like they were imported from a fantasy games graphic pack! Don’t get me wrong, they are great graphics, it’s just they don’t convince alongside real actors. Likewise the armies look fake, with way too similar face & body models doing way too similar movements.
Overall I was disappointed in the battle because not only because of the bad CG and physics but because it did not really seem to do the thing justice. They did not have Wargs and the Eagles were an afterthought. Also Beorn, in his bear form, played a very major part in the battle in the books. It would have been a more varied combat with the beasts, monsters and men, plus the tide of battle turning. The way the movie handled it it seemed to be more about individual boss battles, and after the way Thorin’s Dragon Sickness is treated with him basically being an utter dick to everyone, attacking Bilbo and refusing to help in the battle for so goddamn long it’s hard to care about him.
Also Thorins boss fight is the dumbest boss fight in the whole thing. RED CARD PETER JACKSON! Azog’s weapon is a big rock on a chain that takes forever to swing leaving him wide open for attack which Thorin never takes advantage of. Really, Thorin, where did you learn to fight? Furthermore Azog is also capable of gravity defying acts. SPOILER? Azog can jump from under freezing water, smashing through a solid ice, ignoring both the weight of the water and the solid surface to gain a frankly ridiculous height by even normal jumping standards. I guess Orcs really were Elves once, huh?
SPOILER: Movie Thorin fights alone but in the books he has his fellow Dwarves around him, who he leads out to fight against the Orc army even believing it is hopeless. They fight to defend him when he is injured. That is how Kili and Fili die, making it more tragic because they do not save Thorin who dies later of his mortal wounds, and that is the end of his family line. Did we feel this tragedy with the movie deaths? I don’t think so. Or that when he asks for Bilbos forgiveness that he has learned the lesson that friendship is worth more than gold, but the learned the lesson too late?
Notice how I have very little to say about Bilbo? He does not get much focus and some of his contributions were cut from the story. It makes me cry (for the wrong reasons). A crushing disappointment since I had such high expectations for this finale. Epic Fail.