Movie Review – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Warning: Spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.
I remember the West Indies tour of the Indian cricket team in 2011, in which India had won the first Test and the second match was drawn. The third Test at Dominica was almost in India’s hands when, out of the blue, Team India decided to end the match early and settle for a draw. By not going in for the kill, Dhoni signaled change of tactics from attacking to a defensive mindset, one which would cost us two whitewashed tours of England and Australia.
I apologies for my long reverie, but when I sat there for the concluding episode of the Hobbit saga, I could not help but draw a parallel between the said West Indies tour and our Tolkien-inspired trilogy. But before I delve further into the third movie, let me first tell you in brief why I felt cheated by the end of the second installment.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (TDOS) starts off from the point the party of dwarves gets in sight of Erebor, and goes off pretty well, weaving an articulate story and reaching a scintillating climax before letting me down at the very end. Why, oh why, was Smaug not killed in the end? The stage was set, the cards on the table, and yet Peter Jackson decided to end the story at the point where Smaug sets off to destroy Lake Town and punish its inhabitants. It was like Dhoni tactic of not going for the kill and keeping it for another day, and that kind of left a hole in my heart. I told myself, maybe Smaug has an important role to play in the next episode.
And then, thirty minutes into The Battle of the Five Armies (TBFA), Smaug is dead! I was like “Seriously? They could have just shown it in TDOS!” The death of Smaug only triggers the series of events which could have easily been dealt with right from the beginning of the third movie. This would’ve massively helped both the movies. Smaug does not play much of a role in this finale, and the battle is fought in another platform. Which, of course, brings me to the ‘battle’ itself.
I have just two words for the battle scenes: poorly orchestrated. I honestly did not understand what was going on, or where all the people were running to. The fights were scattered, confusing and not coordinated. I did not understand exactly when the battle ended. The climax of the battle was half-an-hour before the end of the movie, and I kept waiting, hoping there was more to come. Nothing did.
The screenplay was below par; and the editing not very well done either. Some chips and cuts here and there were required. Some scenes blatantly expose the visual effects and make you wonder if better handling was necessary. CGI alone, sir, does not create a great watching experience.
Talking of positives, the role of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, was almost well defined. Martin Freeman does justice to his role as a hobbit trying to restore peace among the elves and the dwarves, but then he is sidelined. There is little scope to judge the performances of the remaining cast, as there is hardly any one defining scene in the film. Performances were alright, but had a lot of room for improvement.
While primarily, the Hobbit saga was meant to illustrate how a homely hobbit goes on an adventure and returns a changed man, the depiction could have been better. The entire composition lacked a certain undefined element that could have held its ground. The storyline and screenplay could have been handled better. The battle scenes at least, could have been depicted better, given the title promises you a mighty battle involving many stakeholders.
Watch it, if only to free yourself from the burden of an unfinished tale. But for me, it was the whitewash that followed the dramatic restraint to go for the kill.