Caught a matinee showing of the final installment to “The Hobbit” trilogy “Battle of the Five Armies” and let me just say that no matter what the book purists say, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. There are a few cons to the pros, I’ll get to them in a minute, but the positives far outweigh the negative. “Battle of the Five Armies” picks up right where “Desolation of Smaug” left off, with the fierce dragon unleashed and descends upon Lake Town setting it ablaze. Frankly, they could have tacked this part easily to the end of the last film instead of devoting a mere 10 minutes in the beginning to slaying the dragon. It would have worked fine opening with showing the people of Lake Town in their boats making their way to Dale. Then we go back to Bilbo and the Dwarves who had made it into Erebor and witness the sickness overcoming Thorin that needs to be dealt with before all hell breaks loose. Then there is of course the epic battle which ensues. It is quite hard though to judge this film on its own as it is a literal continuation of a three part story.
The production quality is through the roof. Peter Jackson loves to go big and it shows as he and his crew of many immerse the viewer into his version of Middle Earth. We are treated to some of the most beautiful scenery New Zealand has to offer and a story just as engaging. This movie did have less scenes that seemed to drag out needlessly as they cut between different groups before they all came together for the climax, though the battle itself was a tad long. The special effects were well placed and not overpowering.
The set of films on the whole, as wonderfully done as they were, really could have been done in two parts instead of three. There is, in all three films, a lot of unnecessary padding. The story being as testosterone heavy as it is, I can understand that adding a female character like Tauriel may have seemed like a good idea and while I liked her, she didn’t feel necessary to the story. To me her only purpose felt like it was only to be a love interest to the handsome young Kili, which again as much as I love a bit of romance, was not necessary to the story. As much as I love Legolas, many of his scenes were not really necessary either. I don’t even recall Legolas having more than a passing mention in the book actually. With all the build up they did for the Necromancer in the second film, they quickly sent him on his way in this one. I did like the bridging to the “Lord of the Rings” movies. Of course my biggest negative argument though would be that given the title of the movie, shouldn’t the titular character in “The Hobbit” have a bigger part? While the real hero of the story was there, he was not there enough and it did not feel like it was about the Hobbit and more like being about the dwarves of Erebor.
Overall, this installment gets 7.5 out of 10 with the trilogy on the whole I give a respectable 8. The key to enjoying any film adapted from a book is to not think about the book. No film is ever exactly to the books.