The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition 3D Blu-ray Review
It has been a year since the third and final Hobbit film hit theaters and now that the final film is out on its special, extended edition Blu-ray, it’s time to assess what went wrong. In the eyes of the studio, nothing went wrong because all three films made a boatload of cash and they had no worries about diminishing a franchise because the franchise was going to end anyway. But for fans, something wasn’t right with these films and as each film came and went, fans started to realize that while The Lord of the Rings films were a true passion project, The Hobbit films might just have been a cash grab.
Thorin (Armitage) is succumbing to the gold madness that took his Grandsire Thror, but Bilbo (Freeman) does his best to help him. Meanwhile, the recently awoken Smaug is destroying and it does up to Bard (Evans) to stop him as his elders did so many years ago. All the while, a massive battle is brewing between Dwarves, Elves, Humans and Orcs. And while all of this sounds very exciting and intense, director Peter Jackson somehow made it incredibly boring.
Although it’s probably true with every film, I find it especially true with big budget films based on established source material; if the director doesn’t love the source material and have a burning desire to make the film, the film will be a letdown. By Peter Jackson’s own admission, his heart wasn’t in The Hobbit films, which is why he spent years trying to get someone else to direct them. But frustration and bags of cash got the better of him and he reluctantly agreed to return to Middle Earth. The resulting films feel more like an elaborate stage play at times with uneven special effects and uneasy dialogue.
But the biggest issue with all three films, but most notably with Five Armies is the fact they took one book and made nine hours worth of movies. There just wasn’t enough material in Tolkien’s The Hobbit to necessitate three movies. The films constantly prove it as we’re stuck sitting through every small, unimportant detail of the film that causes everything to drag along. At best, we should have one three hour movie and at worst, two separate two hour movies. But dragging it to three really hurt the trilogy.
The performances were once again top notch. Martin Freeman gave Bilbo everything he had and Richard Armitage and Luke Evans did well with their heroes. I’m not sure why they brought back Orlando Bloom, but I have to sheepishly admit I enjoyed seeing Legolas back in action. His action scenes were probably the most exciting part of the trilogy, which is sad since they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I also liked Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel and that performance got me excited to see her as The Wasp.
If you own the first two Hobbit films, then you’ll obviously need to add this to your collection to complete the set, but do so begrudgingly. I can’t even call Five Armies a disappointment because we knew what we were getting with the third film, but I do think Jackson could have done better. For those that were/are huge fans of Middle Earth, this is probably a sad final chapter, but at least we got to see Tolkien’s books come to life.
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES 3D BLU-RAY REVIEW
I do like the 3D presentations in all the Hobbit movies and Five Armies probably made the best use of the format. The 3D has a nice depth and gives you several “wow” moments as arrows are flying at the screen.
Video: The 2D presentation is incredibly sharp.
Audio: The audio is fine.
Commentary with Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens: Jackson doesn’t come out and say it, but you can tell while he’s talking that he didn’t love his time making the film. But he and Boyens give a really good, thoughtful commentary.
The Appendices Part 11 (4:53:55): 11 different featurette make up Part 11 of the appendices and what I learned from these is that Luke Evan is one tough dude. Not only that, but the extras in New Zealand got really into making the film.
The Appendices Part 12: Here at Journey’s End (5:01:32): Four main featurettes cap off the Hobbit trilogy appendices and focus on creating the world of Middle Earth as well as closing out the film.
Butt-Numb-a-Thon 2011 Greeting (11:55): Peter Jackson and company put on a surprise birthday video for harry Knowles.
The Real Adam Brown (5:54): The actor that plays Ori gets his own featurette.
Andrew Lesnie Remembered (5:46): A nice tribute to Lesnie.
New Zealand: Home to Middle-Earth Part 3 (6:06): The final look at the locations used in New Zealand.