What Is It: The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies is the third and final volume of the movie adaptations of The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. The book is a children’s classic, following the adventures of Bilbo Baggins (the younger version being portrayed by Martin Freeman in the film and the older version once again being portrayed by Ian Holm) as he travels with a band of dwarves to take back the Lonely Mountain and its treasure from the dragon Smaug. After the great success of the book, Tolkien’s publishers begged for a sequel. This work would eventually result in one of the best selling books of all time: The Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson also adapted LOTR into one of the most successful film franchises of all time, culminating with the Academy Award Best Picture winning The Return of the King.
My experience: I was a little late to the party in seeing this due to a horrible nagging cough I’ve been fighting (I didn’t want to be THAT person in the theater). Unfortunately I think most of the weight and emotional pull of the movie is due more to the fact that it is likely the final film of a beloved franchise more than the film itself. The Hobbit films as a whole suffer from wanting to include every moment from the book as well as connect it to the Lord of the Rings films. This film in particular would likely have benefiting from some harsh editing, especially concerning the battle in the beginning which felt like it was tacked on from The Desolation of Smaug. With Lord of the Rings being nearly five times longer than The Hobbit in terms of word count, it’s hard to justify them getting equal film trilogy treatment no matter how much extra information Tolkien had written in other places.
Why You Should See It: Despite the weaknesses of this latest trilogy, it is still a part of one of the most epic stories ever told on screen. The visuals, the acting, and the dialogue are all strong enough to keep you interested throughout the film. While not for the weak of heart, I imagine a marathon of all six films would prove to be an impressive cinematic experience. If you’ve been a fan all along, it’s the final chapter of a significant part of your childhood. One could argue these films have left as big a mark on film as Tolkien’s books have left on literature. The films flaws are definitely not enough to ruin that experience.
The Future: Unless Christopher Tolkien has some sort of mind bending change of heart and decides he really doesn’t dislike movie studios and the adaptations of his father’s work as much as he currently does, we will never see The Silmarillion on the big screen. But look forward to the endless combinations of extended editions and box sets that will be compiled for years to come.