One-on-One Scores Are Settled

One of Jackson’s decisions that works is the call to reduce the gigantic “10,000 on 10,000” battle stuff. It’s in there, but most of the fighting is much more intimate. He gives almost every single main character their chance to shine. Which is nice, but considering they’re basically just continually intercut with each other (80% of the movie takes place over one day in one place) none of it really stands up.

Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies Galadriel

The End Credits Are the Best Part

So the five armies fight and the action is great, and our heroes from the previous films have their shining moments. Then, once the dust has settled, you’re expecting the good stuff. Jackson finally make a seamless bridge to his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Well, this half works. Once Jackson finishes the battle, he creates a pretty solid final few minutes. The ending, and the credits in particular, are the beautiful ode to the rest of this odd trilogy. Eventually, it ties right back into The Lord of the Rings, just as the first film began. 

Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies Gandalf

Sauron Short-Changed

However, the connective tissue we expected in other aspects isn’t that strong. The origin of Sauron is handled in one very cool, but very tangential scene early in the film. It features Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, and Christopher Lee and kicks tons of ass. It also doesn’t fit in with the movie at all, because the movie mostly all takes places somewhere else. The scene feels arbitrarily placed as an afterthought. It serves to get Gandalf out of the cage and to wrap up the weird asides with the Necromancer from the first two movies, but it’s rushed in comparison to everything else. This scene is the perfect example of how, instead of making a bridge movie, Jackson has basically taken what should have been the last act of one of his extended editions and released it as one film.

Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies Bilbo 2


Maybe it’s not fair to compare The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. After all, Jackson had a whole book to adapt there and here he has a precious few pages. Still, the absolute satisfaction and resonance I felt after seeing that movie is not present here. Then, I felt like I’d been a part of something truly special. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies has a few good moments, but mostly it’s just a merciful means to an end.  

/Film rating: 4 out of 10

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About the Author

Germain graduated NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Cinema Studies program in 2002 and won back to back First Place awards for film criticism from the New York State Associated Press in 2006 and 2007.