A few months ago I lamented over bad movie adaptations from books. I am always hopeful that some film director will suck me into their painfully accurate rendition of their favorite novel, but I am usually disappointed. I have had to train myself to view movies completely separate from their paper bound counterparts. Every good book I have read has engaged all of my senses—I can see, touch, taste, smell, and hear everything. A good movie really only engages two, at most three, senses—mostly sight, sound, and sometimes touch or taste. So, in order to make up for the lack of sense, there must be substance.
If you wish to see an entertaining and action packed film, then The Battle of Five Armies will be highly enjoyable for you. There are great epic battle scenes, and a wonderful soundtrack to go with them. If, however, you are a die-hard LOTR fan with The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the Silmarillion memorized, you will be disappointed. As potentially the last Tolkien adaptation to be seen on film, it left something to be to be desired. There is a lot to see and hear, but little substance.
The bizarre Elf-Dwarf-Elf love triangle was hardly believable. While Evangeline Lilly makes a formidable elf-warrior, Kate’s feelings for Jack in Lost were more believable than Tauriel’s feelings for Kili. And did I forget to mention that she is not a real Tolkien character? Her attempt to save Kili also seemed to cheapen the importance of his death. Personally, I thought her character was distracting and superfluous… which might have been the point.
The movie has very little dialogue, but the dialogue that is there is well done. Bilbo is still a very lovable character, and his unusual Hobbit heroics are commendable. However, I would have liked to have seen more of Thorin’s struggle with the ‘dragon sickness’… It was very short-lived and the seriousness of this mental illness and its effect on Bilbo and his fellow dwarves was understated.
My final criticism is of the battle between the nine Nazgul, Galadriel, Elrond, and Saruman. First, I am fairly certain this battle is not in the book. Second, it looked like a video game with good CGI, but CGI nonetheless. It was a bit trippy and I almost laughed a couple of times…
I am glad I saw it in the theatre, but The Battle of the Five Armies was not Peter Jackson’s best work. If only good film makers would learn that when you can only engage two senses, you have to add some substance. Good dialogue and a solid plot line make the difference between a good film and a great film, especially when it’s a book adaptation. But sadly, I think money speaks louder than words in Hollywood.