The title “Battle of the Five Armies” makes me think of a White Stripes song. The movie made me think of a Rush video. It was endless battle scenes and sometimes bad computer graphics. It’s amazing to think they took a small novel and made eight hours of film out of it; although this picture does capture more of Tolkein’s essence than the previous pictures. It all just came across as…well, Peter Jackson sitting in a cave on a big pile of gold.
The dragon (Smaug) wasn’t given much to do in the first movie. We were teased with its presence. In the second movie, there’s a great scene with him (Benedict Cumberbatch doing the voice). In this installment, there are some great visuals of him going all Godzilla on the town, but he dies rather early on. That meant I had to rely on trying to figure out the many characters, and wonder why Bilbo Baggins, played by the wonderful Martin Freeman, is given nothing to do. He stands around, occasionally swings a sword, and at one point, gets knocked out for 20 minutes.
So the movie starts impressively enough with the town burning. Stephen Fry (forgive me for not being able to follow along with all their goofy character names) is trying to head out with all his gold. Luke Evans takes out Smaug with a perfect shot of his arrow. It was more impressive than Luke blowing up the Death Star.
After that fun opening, we get expository dialogue. It’s often written as if it’s being done by a high school kid at the Renaissance fair. It made me think of the way Jack Black talks in Tenacious D songs.
The CGI stuff can sometimes create visually stunning landscapes, although some didn’t work. Luckily during fight scenes, there were only a couple of times the CGI looked ridiculous (one of those being Legolas climbing up rocks that are falling, as if they are stairs. It looked like something from a video game, or a Roadrunner cartoon.
Freeman is an actor that is so fun to watch. He can get a quizzical look on his face, and his reactions remind me of Laurel Hardy/Charlie Chaplin. It’s a shame he was merely a minor character in his own movie.
The endless fighting scenes, although some shot brilliantly, just wore me out. Maybe I’m too old for middle earth fantasy.
Fans of the series will love this, and say it’s the best of the trio. If you’re not a fan, this isn’t the movie for you.
It gets 2 stars out of 5.