Reviewing a random movie from my Letterboxd watchlist: Issue #1

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Theatrical Edition)


Jaden Cheloha, Staff Writer

I became interested in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical mythos after purchasing a copy of The Hobbit at Barnes and Noble near the start of this past summer. As I read the book, I had the idea to watch each of the three movies in The Hobbit trilogy once I finished each major section of the book. By the very end of summer, I had finally finished the novel, so by the time the weekend hit, I had time to watch the final film in the trilogy: The Battle of the Five Armies. This is a comprehensive review of that film. 

The biggest issue with this movie is the insane amount of filler shoved into it. With it being based off a children’s novel, and a third of a children’s novel nonetheless, there was a severe lack of source material to fill a two-and-a-half-hour movie. Instead of doing the reasonable deed and making one film, the filmmakers decided to fill about 120 minutes of it with bloat and unneeded scenes. Most of the film is taken up by the battle itself, with action scene after action scene molding together into one long hodge-podge of CGI fights. For context, the novel dedicated a whole five pages to the battle. It was completely unnecessary to stretch that out into what it became in the movie. 

There were also completely random events thrown into the film that had no backing whatsoever from the book. I would’ve been willing to sit through good additions, but everything added was a major snores-fest to get through. For example, there was a love triangle between one of the dwarves, one of the elves, and another elf for absolutely no reason. Maybe others who watched the film got more out of it, but I simply saw it as random and slightly out of place. 

Another completely useless piece of filler were all the references they made to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. These did nothing for the movies. There were cameos made by characters who originally not in the novel, and for me, that drew my focus away from the story even more. Also passing mentions of characters from the previous trilogy just felt forced. 

There is nothing that redeems this movie for all its faults, but Martin Freeman sure does try to. His performance is the only aspect of the film that kept me engaged and wanting to pay meaningful attention (with one exception being the time the Elf-King rode in on a giant elk. I thought that was neat). He truly does fit the bill of a young Bilbo Baggins. However, this singular bright spot is bogged down by the fact that he’s hardly in his own movie. 

The title of the film is quite literally The Hobbit, but it’s like the filmmakers didn’t even realize that. In the novel, Bilbo is knocked out from a blow to the head. The story then picks up when he wakes, which worked well for me. So, what was the purpose of spending so much time with every other character in the film? 

It’s best to end on a strong note, and I do have one more positive about this movie. The score across the entire trilogy is very strong. It’s the least noticeable in this film but is still amazing. Props to Howard Shore for giving this series his all. (Misty Mountains sung by the dwarves gives me chills every time I listen to it). 

This film is bad, shoved at the end of a bad trilogy with very few bright spots along the way. But, it does give Tolkien-lovers a few more hours to spend in Middle-Earth, and for some, that’s enough. 


2 out of 5 stars.