Man fans of the Hobbit movies and the book were taken by surprise (not all pleasantly) when the studio announced that the original two part franchise was going to be turned into a trilogy. Director Peter Jackson has claimed that he decided to add a third movie onto the Hobbit franchise for artistic reasons. Critics and many industry insiders claim the decision was made to exploit the popularity of the first two Hobbit movies (and the LOTR trilogy) and to use up a lot of leftover footage. I don’t know whether to buy into Jackson’s claims or those of his critics who have labeled the third film as nothing more than greedy self-indulgence. What I do know is that the third movie should never have been filmed and its existence ends what should have been a great franchise on a sour note.
- First, the best and most relevant moments in The Battle of the Five Armies happens within the first thirty minutes of the film. The rest of the film reminds me of a movie trailer. It’s full of action and excitement, but wears thin after five minutes. After nearly two hours, it’s practically torturous. A friend of mine suggested that watching The Battle of the Five Armies was much like reading an essay written by a high school student who was clearly trying to stretch 500 words of content into 1500 words of writing. The slaying of the dragon would have best been worked into the second film. That would have been a worthwhile ending.
- I know that many people simply dislike sequels, and for many of them, their disdain of trilogies is even more intense. I am not one of those people. There are many movie trilogies that have been the subject of critical and popular acclaim. Jackson’s own LOTR trilogy is one of them. However, in order to be successful, a trilogy’s third movie should have an emotional impact that surpasses the first two. For an example of this, reference The Empire Strikes Back. With Armies, Peter Jackson fails to meet this criteria. The character development is nearly non-existent, and the actors have little to do beyond fighting largely pointless battles. The result is a shameful waste of some amazing talent.
- Finally, there’s just not enough Bilbo Baggins in the third film to justify the trilogy. Of course that could be said about the first two films as well, but it is especially noticeable in The Battle of the Five Armies. None of the humor and humble personality that Bilbo Baggins is infused with in the books, and to a lesser extent, the first two movies, exists here. Fans of the book will be disappointed that their beloved main character is essentially lost among the action.
At the end of the day, the real shame is that a wonderful book wasn’t given the treatment it deserved in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. Instead, it becomes a sad example of what happens when a director and his studio attempt to manipulate a great story into an action packed, blockbuster trilogy when it simply doesn’t fit into that model.