Director: Peter Jackson
Writers: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom
Studio: Warner Brothers

“The Battle of the Five Armies” is the shortest Peter Jackson journey to Middle Earth. So, there’s that. For non Tolkien devotees, this film will still be an arduous trek. Did you like the film created character that Evangeline Lilly got to play in the last flick? Well, she gets more screen time in this one and a little person has a boner for her. There’s more contrived devices to bend the original story to match up to Jackson’s version of Lord of the Rings. If you’re a lit nerd, never mind the chronology for aligning Aragorn’s age with what the Elf King says.

While I only had the original book and the 1970s Rankin/Bass version to compare, I found this movie to be lacking. Which is weird because it practically reinvented the rules for padding a feature film to get a major studio release. Smaug gets enough time to breath across two movies and the attack on Laketown has weight. But, the titular battle feels rushed and unfocused. I get that the Orcs are a fun callback for fans, but Shadow of Mordor showed how to effectively use these similar looking hordes to a story’s advantage. This movie just makes it feel like Azog and some other guys.

“The Hobbit” became a trilogy for no reason other than greed. But, it’s not like that isn’t the reason behind a litany of other films. I just ask what’s the harm in making a duology anymore. I get the desire to let a story breathe, but you shouldn’t have to mine every random appendice in hope of creating a narrative. I look forward to what Jackson does next after escaping the Shadow of Tolkien. But, I hope that one day the LOTR fans are able to put these films behind them like the Prequels.


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