Middle Earth has been with us on the big screen now since 2001, when Peter Jackson brought us The Fellowship of the Ring. The original Lord of the Rings trilogy was of course one of the most incredible masterpieces of our generation when it comes to cinema, and it pushed the boundaries of what can be presented on a cinema screen. When Jackson decided to get back on board for another go around with The Hobbit Trilogy, he knew it would be a tough ask, but with a strong cast, better technology and the new High Frame Rate 3D, he had some tools too. In almost 3 years, this new journey has also come to and end, with The Battle of the Five Armies.
The first two Hobbit films got mixed reviews, especially the first, but in general I really enjoyed them. Maybe it was just great to be back in Middle Earth. The cliff hanger that concluded The Desolation of Smaug led into an immediate burst of action as Five Armies begins. This works out fine, and gets us into the film quickly. Character development isn’t necessary so we basically feel like we never got up from the last movie. The action in this final chapter comes in thick and fast. It’s all done well, as usual with these films. Nothing that really blows your mind though unfortunately, like the battle in The Two Towers did. That’s one thing that does hurt the finale. In terms of action, I didn’t feel like I saw anything I haven’t already seen before.
The plot itself has a place in Five Armies, although it is certainly a little action heavy. The primary story lines are Thorin’s impending madness, leading to potential war between Elves and Dwarves, as well as the attack from the Orcs. This is all standard stuff, and the Thorin plot line is presented pretty well, although it does drag out a little bit. The romantic plot point between Kili (Aiden Turner) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lily) is entertaining but under nourished grossly until it basically turns into an after thought. Unfortunately, this hurts the emotional impact of it’s conclusion, as is often the problem with films with such large casts and wide variety of story lines.
The usual suspects do the usual great work. Gandalf and Bilbo are brought to life wonderfully once again by Ian McKellaen and Martin Freeman, and Richard Armitage is the real star, dominating the story with his portrayal of King Thorin at his worst. The likes of Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom and a surprise guest appearance from Billy Connolly are all well done as well, and Connolly brought a lot of life to the final battle. Speaking of final battles, one thing that didn’t disappoint was the final showdown between Thorin and Azog, and Legolas’ battle with Bolg. The individual battles were perhaps more entertaining than the large scale ones.
The final chapter of Middle Earth is a very serviceable and entertaining entry into the series. It concluded the series with a solid bang and Peter Jackson has done it again. That being said, my problem with the film is simply that in concluding the final film of a series that will go down in cinema history in the same way Star Wars and Indiana Jones did back in the 80’s and 90’s, you expect to be blown away. Or at least you hope to be. I just can’t say that was the case here. Unfortunately, what was once groundbreaking became the norm, and therefore to make up for that, Jackson would have to craft the perfect story. It was a wonderful effort, and a great film, but in Middle Earth terms, it was par for the course. Of course, that is certainly not a bad thing. Well done sir.