By Nick Michael
When it was announced that Peter Jackson would transform J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit into film, fans knew that it would be nearly impossible to recreate the magic of the original Lord of the Rings series. The book’s first two adaptations proved fans right. Although they were not bad movies by any means, The Hobbit films came nowhere close to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies follows this trend and is an adequate end to Jackson’s second series; however, it leaves much to be desired when compared to the rest of the Middle-Earth saga.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies follows the end of the journey of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his thirteen dwarf companions, who aim to reclaim their lost mountain of Erebor. The movie begins with the death of Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch), the dragon who had taken Erebor from the dwarves hundreds of years ago. With the dragon dead, the dwarves are free to rebuild their ancient homeland and claim the immense amount of gold and jewels within the mountain. But as word spreads about Smaug’s death, others take it as an opportunity to seize the mountain for themselves. Meanwhile, the leader of Bilbo’s company, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), is slowly being possessed by greed. As a result, multiple armies congregate at the mountain, and a devastating war ensues.
The one major mistake the producers made in turning The Hobbit into film was splitting it into three movies. The book simply isn’t long enough to have three films based on it. The events in the movie seemed like they were stretched out. If the movie had been half as long, it would have been just as effective. But since producers decided to make The Hobbit into three movies, audiences end up spending three hours to watch a film that should have lasted only one.
The Hobbit’s visual effects and characterization ultimately carried the movie. Many of the characters are completely animated, and the battle scenes required partial animation. The animation was vivid and realistic, and allowed a level of movement that would not have been possible via traditional filming. All of the characters were played well, with Armitage and Freeman giving standout performances. Without these two points to keep audiences engaged, the long plotline would have ruined the film.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was one of the better ones to come out this year. However, when compared to the vast success of the Lord of the Rings series, it is hard to consider it a deserving end to the Middle-Earth saga.