Loose, Apathetic Thoughts On The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies.
I had no intention of writing about The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies, but my wife is insisting on watching The X-Factor (the same wife who insists we only have one television) and I’m at a loose end. Weighing up my feelings on the film, which I caught last night, one thing became clear, a thing that tied it irrevocalby to the pain and suffering that is Simon Cowell’s most foul creation: Both stand as marked and strange 21st Century Xmas traditions.
There are similarities too in the manufactured nature of both. By this, the sixth film in the Middle Earth series, director Peter Jackson is churning out films ad-nauseum, that play like poor facsimiles of their earlier iterations. It’s a conflicting situation, for Jackson clearly has an interest in the subject of Middle Earth, but does he have a passion?
The Battle Of The Five Armies isn’t so much a film as it is an action sequence, a set-piece crammed with filler. Following on from the sudden cut to black that closed it’s predecessor, the enjoyable enough The Desolation Of Smaug, The Battle Of The Five Armies ties up the earlier film’s cliffhanger with hours to spare, with attention soon turning to the eponymous battle. The pacing is all over the place, resulting in a hollow experience. I’m struggling to process it. I think I actually resent it.
Genuine peril is at a minimum, as per the nature of the prequel. One character utters “We may yet survive this” in what is safe to assume this to be a gag, but postmodernity is otherwise (far) far away from Middle Earth, echoing that earlier trilogy of often maligned fantasy blockbuster prequels. While there are a few moments of lightness in the earlier films this is nowhere to be seen by film three. Even a bizarre cameo appearance from a computer generated Billy Connelly can’t lighten the mood, with it’s Playstationary appearance confusing instead of inspiring wonder.
Around half an hour in to The Battle Of Five Armies I realised that I had forgotten what was actually happening (as in, what had happened in the earlier films) which says a lot about how engaging the series is, and I’m still struggling to name the five armies (man, elf, dwarf, eagle, orc?). I felt obligated to finish the drawn out Hobbit series, rather than compelled to, thanks to some incredibly cynical decisions at the creative end, which has resulted in a viewing experience which does not serve the production in any way. Three films and eight hours is too long for a story celebrated for it’s simplicity.
Reading back what I’ve already written I’m struck by the level of negativity I’m showing towards this film. This isn’t supposed to sound as critical as it does, I’m just incredibly frustrated. The spectacle of the thing is actually hugely enjoyable, and I would even say the same of the whole series (I didn’t even mind the dishwashing section of the first Hobbit movie), but the miserable tone of this piece accurately reflects the dreary stylings of the movie, which, although partially saved by a heartwarming enough final five minutes, is pretty grim for the most part.