Unfortunately, this last (we think) outing from Peter Jackson in Middle Earth is a bit of a distraction from beginning to end. And not a good one, in my opinion.
I love The Lord of the Rings – both books and the film adaptions. And I didn’t mind the first two cinematic outings featuring Bilbo and his dwarven companions (‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ and ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’). They were overblown, for sure, but still hugely enjoyable, with much of the joy and love of the source material translating to the screen and replicating the magic of the first trilogy.
This last film I fear however, may have been one film too far.
Starting with Smaug attacking the (near) helpless residents of Laketown, and ending with the titular battle, much of the running time seems like one continuous action sequence. And that, despite how cool it probably sounded on paper, is not enough to sustain a movie (at least, not for me).
At times it almost seems as if Peter Jackson and co. were going to go ahead with their original plan for two films, not three. But somewhere along the line, either:
a) They decided that they could make more money out of a trilogy and that the film-going public would eagerly pay to see said trilogy, even if they had to needlessly drag things out to make it happen (which is true – I parted with my hard-earned cash easy enough!).
b) They let things get away from them during filming and shot much more “spectacular” footage than they thought they would, necessitating a lengthier overall run-time and hence a third film.
I’d like to believe it’s ‘b’ – it’s hard to blame Peter Jackson for his exuberance, even if his enthusiasm may have begun to fail at the end.
And if it is ‘a’, I can only imagine it was some stereotypically greedy film company executives who insisted on such a diabolical scheme – I’d hate to think Peter Jackson would betray his fans in that way.
Whatever the reason though, the truth is that even though it was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours, ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ falls short where it should soar. And it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth to depart Middle-Earth in such a way.
Verdict: 3 stars (out of 5)