At The Omniplex: The Verdict On The Final Hobbit Movie

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The-Hobbit-The-Battle-of-The-Five-Armies‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’

by John Lyons

AS I write this I’m currently sitting in Killarney’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ themed pub, ‘The Shire’,  after returning from a trek to Dublin to see the final ‘Hobbit’ film projected in 3D at 48 frames per second.

There’s a merry atmosphere about the place. Everyone’s chatting about ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’. I have a glass of Bilbo’s Beer sitting right in front of me.

Yet here I am, pen and notebook in hand, preparing to write a review for the film in which I will talk about how underwhelmingly mediocre the film was.

I feel like I’m secretly betraying everyone around me. If there’s ever been a moment if my life where I’ve felt like I’m a fraud, it’s right now.

It’s weird, because this time ten years ago I was such a huge Peter Jackson fan. Seeing ‘The Return of the King’ in the cinema during it’s initial release was perhaps the most thrilling and exhilarating cinematic experience that I’ve had in my entire life.

I spent most of 2005 anxiously awaiting the release of his next film, ‘King Kong’, and made damn sure that I saw the first showing of it on opening night.

Peter Jackson is one of the few modern filmmakers that makes films targeted towards a global audience. Every winter for the last three years I’ve journeyed to the cinema to feast my eyes upon Middle Earth once again in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ prequel trilogy, ‘The Hobbit’.

However, the only thing bigger than the vast scale of Jackson’s films….are their running times. The films run so long to the point that Jackson ended up shooting too much footage for the two Hobbit films. In the end he decided to split ‘The Hobbit’ into three films!

‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ is the concluding chapter of Bilbo Baggins’ journey across Middle Earth in order to help a group of Dwarves reclaim their mountain home that was taken from them by the treacherous dragon, Smaug.

Last year’s film, ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, ended on one of the most intense cliffhangers that I’ve seen in years.

The moment the credits started rolling, I knew that I’d be back in a year’s time for seconds.

‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ picks up from where ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ left off, and the first twenty minutes or so of the film swiftly concludes that cliffhanger. And to be fair, it was incredibly gripping.

But what followed was a lot of meandering and waffle that was padded out into a film that spanned over two hours.

The action sequences are uninspired and drag on for what seemed like close to half of the entire film. Little time is given to the protagonist, Bilbo, and the character with the most screen time, Thorin, has a story that I found to be extremely uncompelling.

Based on my knowledge of the making of the trilogy, I couldn’t help but think that ‘The Battle of Five Armies’ was the product of a director who’s either too precious or too stubborn to kill his darlings in the editing room.

What that leaves us with is two films that are terrific and one film that is full of material that is too stretched out to sustain audiences interest for over two hours.

Peter Jackson is a talented filmmaker who definitely manages to make this film at least halfway entertaining, but that still doesn’t change the fact that it’s an unnecessary film to begin with.

‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ taught me that ‘The Hobbit’ did not need to be split into three films.

But there’s one question that’s been haunting me since the screening ended…did it even need to be two films?


Follow John Lyons on Twitter: @Fireinthelyons

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