The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and looking back at Jackson's second trilogy

'Jackson has nothing new and that fact alone is reason to cut this down from three films.'

There is little doubt in my mind now that Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy is a failure at adapting J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit novel. These films may be a lot of things, some of them successes, but on that count the verdict is unequivocal; as adaptations, these films were broken at the point studio greed took over and three productions emerged instead of two or even, perish the thought, one. The Hobbit, as conceived by Tolkien, is a complete story with a beginning and an end. During the course of this trilogy Jackson attempts to manufacture another two starts and another two ends and largely fails. At least the subtitle includes a definite article, suggesting that there is unlikely to be a 'Reprise Of The Five Armies', though even at this point you would be a brave person to rule it out.

Emphasising the point, The Battle Of The Five Armies starts where the last film left off, which is barely a cliffhanger. Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) gets to do some more desolating and then, twelve minutes in, the opening title appears. Was that really worth waiting for? Could that twelve minutes not have been included in the previous film, or one whole film? I refer you to the previous point on adaptations, and the successes thereof.

Once over that sleight there are two things to be aware of. Firstly, where the first film in this saga was largely a lifeless Drama, this is all Action. Battle after battle unfolds, sometimes with clear participants, other times not. There are, of course, highlights and new things to see (Legolas (Orlando Bloom) gets several and Thorin's (Richard Armitage) eventual battle with Azog (Manu Bennett) is subtly excellent), but that doesn't escape the fact that, as a stand alone film, this is all conclusion, and a one-dimensional one at that. There is still a titanic problem with the fact that at least half of the dwarves are anonymous and by this point, the director isn't even attempting to rectify the situation. Billy Connolly, who shows up as yet another dwarf, gets more characterisation in his five minutes or so than some of the 'stars' do across three films.

Secondly, it should surprise no-one that everything we have already seen that was good in the previous five films is both still good and here again. There is little doubt that a sweeping helicopter pan of some people walking up rugged New Zealand countryside looks good, but I did not need to see this again to know it to be true. Jackson has nothing new and that fact alone is reason to cut this down from three films.

Ultimately, despite all of that griping, it is fine; all of the trilogy are. I cannot bring myself to say that films of this scale and visual artistry are bad (though an hour in to this one, I was ready to) and they do entertain. Even adaptations this bad cannot stop Tolkien's narrative from doing that. But this is also now recycled film-making, from people we know know better, placed in front of us for no other reason than to double or triple the profits. On that level, if not completely true on an artistic front, this feels soulless and that is something you can rarely level at the source text, nor the original author.

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and The Hobbit trilogy as a whole were released on UK Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 20th March 2015.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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