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Feb 032016

Part Nine ~ Closing Thoughts and a Mordor Star Rating

In this part of my review, I take a moment to reflect on all that has been said in this nine part review and then give a final summation on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and it’s place in the trilogy along with our Star Rating!

In Part One of Mordor’s Review of The Hobbit: BFA, I gave a brief overview of the film. I touched on many areas of the film where I feel it succeeded and other areas was where I feel it failed. In Part Nine we take a final look at the last film in The Hobbit Trilogy as a whole.

Please go HERE to our Hobbit: BFA Review for all nine parts of the Mordor Review!

Let’s begin Part Nine of our review of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies with a reflective look back.

What to say about The Hobbit: The Battle of the Fives Armies… I have to admit, that when I saw this film in theaters for the first time I liked it very much indeed, it was exciting, unexpected… and by the time I went to see it, I was resigned to the fact tht The Hobbit trilogy was not going to be anything like the book. Nonetheless, I loved the film on the first viewing and this feeling is reflected in the first several parts of my 9 part review of the film. (The films are epic… so the reviews must be also!)

However, now that I’ve seen it multiple times on Blu-ray and in it’s extended edtion form, I’m not as favorable toward the theatrical edition of this final film. It’s problems are more glaring on repeated viewings and like many forms of junk-food, it tastes wonderful in the first couple of bites, but the aftertaste leaves a lot to be desired.

The problems with The Hobbit trilogy seemed to have grown exponentially as the series evolved, and are the most apparent and egregious in this final film. Lack of a coherent story-line, lack of pre-vis and planning culminated in an over reliance on CGI imagery, without enough practical images to back up the computer generated action. Finally… and I don’t know how to say this any other way, but compared to The Lord of the Rings films, there feels like a lack of passion for the project.

You can’t review The Hobbit trilogy without comparing it to the production of The Lord of the Rings films, which was lighting in a bottle. Such film experiences can rarely, if ever be repeated. The only thing I can point to are the things that are obvious to me, such as the inattention to detail. Ears and feet that sometimes look fake, weapons that at times look like they are made of plastic rather then wood or steel and short cuts on the CGI that looks rough around the edges. Over the course of the entire trilogy, I could point out many of these kinds of moments, when I was taken out of the story, because of such obviously overlooked details. Now, this was not always the case, but it happens enough to make you ask the question… was no one watching? That is where I see the lack of passion in this project.

With The Hobbit trilogy, Peter Jackson made three really good adventure films! He just didn’t make three great films. Movies that make a billion dollar each at the box office are not bad films, it’s just that these movies are being compared to three of the best films ever made… The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I do enjoy watching The Hobbit films, even with all their flaws and Peter Jackson should be proud of what he was able to achieve under the circumstances, once he took up the reigns of this project. I don’t think he ever wanted to make a film out of The Hobbit book, but he took over the direction of these films, because so many people were counting on him to do so.

As for the final film in The Hobbit trilogy… The Battle of the Five Armies? It has it’s share of flaws, but I think the narrative of the battle was spectacular. The use of Ravenhill and the fighting in Dale, balanced with the fighting before the gate of Erebor is a vast improvement over how Tolkien described the battle, in terms of how it should work cinematically. Tolkien’s battle would have been a bore on screen, if it was filmed the way it was told in the book. That’s the damn truth!

A few unanswered questions…

What happened to the Elven Army? Where did they go. What happened to the Warg Riders and why were they not part of the battle? What was the fate of Azog’s White Warg, we were told by Manu Bennett that she might play an important role in the third film. What happened to the Palantir in Dol Guldur? Was it taken by Saruman to Orthanc?

The Tolkien Purist vs The Action Movie Fan…

As I have stated many times in my often overlong review of these films, I have talked about the phenomenon of seeing the films with two minds and two hearts…

One side of me is the Tolkien Purist who wants to see on film what Tolkien wrote… and if not exactly what he wrote in words, then at seeing the narrative stay within the spirit of his word as much as possible: much the way that Peter Jackson did in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. There are still moments in the first trilogy when I cringe at the choices made by the filmmakers (such as Gandalf rapping the Steward of Gondor on the head with his staff… really? ), but the overall essence of Tolkien’s writing is definitely felt in these films. In The Hobbit trilogy there is often a sense that small written passages have become a wild thrill ride more akin to a theme park then to Tolkien’s words. Legolas hopping on the ‘Minecraft’ bridge in his battle with Bolg comes to mind!

And yet there is the other side of me that enjoys seeing a great action flick, filled with monsters, mayhem and over the top action that Peter Jackson is so good at bringing to the big screen. There are some truly spectacular fight and action sequences in this film that are brilliantly conceived!

Jackson also never forgets to give us the small moments, when the characters take in all of the terrible and wonderful things happening to them. When Bilbo reveals the acorn in his hand bringing a smile to Thorin, when Galadriel kisses the lifeless Gandalf in Dol Guldur, when Thorin confronts his demons in the swirling pool of gold, and watching the fire dying light in Smaug’s eyes as he makes his final descent to earth. Beautiful… poetic… cinematic! These are all the small, yet wonderful character moments that balance the wild and fantastical action sequences in these films.

The Extended Edition…

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies  is a much better film in it’s extended form. There are lots of moments when character is developed and many of the action sequences make more sense with the additional footage. In my opinion this is a much better version of the film. Over all, the narrative makes more sense and the story threads holds together more coherently. These extended cuts don’t feel like extra scenes, but rather integral scenes that were cut for the sake of time… (probably at Warner Bros. behest.) The additional cuts of Dain on the battlefield, Gandalf in Dol Guldur and the Funeral of Thorin all add essential elements to the film!

My overall feelings about The Battle of the Five Armies, was that it was vastly improved in the extended edition! The film was much more coherent and many lost story threads were picked up and followed to their logical end. The film was only about 15 minutes longer and to be honest, I can’t see why they didn’t just include the additions in the theatrical release.

My favorite edition was seeing more footage of the Jailor of Dol Guldur… a character I’d been pining for over the course of the entire trilogy! Go HERE and HERE to see my Battle of the Five Armies EE Review.

Now for the Final Verdict…

So, how will I grade this film? As the Tolkien Purist? Or as a fan of Peter Jackson’s thrill ride films with a heart? I suppose it will naturally have to be a mix of both!

The Tolkien Purist gives this film a D+ and yet the Action Film Lover gives the movie an B. So, the final Grade for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is rounded out to a C++ That’s my Grade and I’m sticking to it!

Final GRADE C++

Now for my Star Rating… out of Five Stars I’m giving this film a 3 and a half Star Rating.

Final Rating  3.5 STARS

I want to add, that if most of the Extended Edition scenes had been shown in the theater edition, I would definitely have given this film a strong B and a Star Rating of 4, however the theatrical version of this film was much weaker without those important scenes.

Well, here it is at last, the final Mordor assessment of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies… and the close of The Hobbit trilogy reviews. Talk about the end of an era!!!

What  a long, strange trip it’s been… or should I say journey? Over the last three to four years in writing these Mordor Reviews of The Hobbit trilogy, we have seen highs and lows and though these reviews have been epic in length & scale, I would not have left out a single word! So… here were are at last, at the end of a long and adventurous journey and there are only two more words to write… The End!

Please go HERE to our Hobbit: BFA Review for all nine parts of the Mordor Review! 

 February 3, 2016  Posted by at 1:45 am
  • TroyTroodon

    It could have been better!

  • CT

    I think your final grades of 3.5/5 [theatrical] and 4/5 [extended] are dead on. That is exactly how I would rate the two versions of the film. And I don’t know if the quality of this trilogy suffered from a lack of passion [ a fair assessment] a lack of prep time [as stated by PJ himself] or a combination of the two, but this is no LOTR trilogy. And it may not be entirely fair to compare the Hobbit to the greatest trilogy of all times, but what else are we supposed to compare it to?

    And I agree. The Jailor of Dol Guldur was my favorite character addition in the extended version. Partially because this was the original design of Bolg, and partially because this is one kick ass Orc, IMO the best Orc design in the entire trilogy. I cannot wait to see Weta produce a statue of this bad boy!

    Finally, I would like to provide my own rating/grade of this 9 part review of The Hobbit trilogy. This has been without a doubt the most informative, in depth, and insightful review of this trilogy ever produced. I cannot imagine the amount of time and effort required to produce such an incredible review, but I would personally like to thank you RL for the incredible job you have done. And with that I give this review a 5/5 star rating or an A+ grade. That’s my rating, that’s my grade and I’m sticking to it!

  • Random Musings

    There’s always one 😉

  • Random Musings

    RingLord just to make you aware that on this page http://www.thelandofshadow.com/the-mordor-hobbit-bfa-review/ it doesn’t actually link to this page.
    P.s. Loved the review plus the other two. Any thoughts on a possible review for each of the LOTR films as well? It would complete the set 😉