No-one clapped #OneLastTime

Otherwise known as our review of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, written entirely of my own volition with no free tickets involved.  If you're not a Tolkien nut, you might want to find something else to read about now!

The release of the final Hobbit film was always going to be a major event in this house.  I discovered the book about 1970 and read it compulsively until I could quote great chunks of it off by heart.  I still return to it occasionally, and its comforting familiarity and Tolkien's way with words, draws me in every time.  Now I own all the books about Middle Earth, several copies of some of them, and they've been well thumbed by me and by my children.  We have videos and DVDs of the films, and we've been waiting all year for this, the final chapter.

But it wasn't the film that I wanted to see.  Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed it, and I LOVED some of the performances:  Bilbo, Thorin, Bard, and Balin in particular.  They were all wonderful.  Dain the dwarf king was an entertaining surprise, and some of the battle scenes were impressive.  And I can't wait to see it again, this time in 3D which perhaps will make a difference to my opinion.


There was a lot that I didn't like.

It even started badly.   I felt like someone had paused a DVD and just pressed play again.  The scene was not set in any way, so it didn't feel like a standalone film at all.

Then I had problems with the changes to the original story, the extra characters, the endless CGI, the loose ends and and and... well you get the picture.

I guess I'm a Tolkien purist.  For me the films would have been better if they had followed the story exactly and only used dialogue that was actually written by Tolkien: I can always tell the difference.  My favourite scenes in this film were those that I recognised from the book.  The ones with the speeches that I remembered, the words that so many fans share and repeat, like this timeless one from Thorin:

I also wanted to believe in the film.  I didn't want to watch another Marvel clone, as I don't see the likes of Gandalf and Legolas as Superheroes, in my mind they're flawed and raw and real.  But very little in this film looked real.  Apparently it cost more than any of the others, and I'm wondering why that money was not spent on building sets on site in New Zealand?

Only the Shire looked real, which was such as shame, because when scenes look fake, they lose emotional impact, and Tolkien's work should make you feel.  You see the reasons I love Tolkien have little to do with epic battles or romantic love.  No, I'm drawn to his portrayal of friendship, loyalty and how his characters find the courage to do what is right.  I wanted to see so much more of that.  Even the ending was frustrating.  Especially as it did not seem to explain what happened to so many of the characters - and some of the inanimate stars of the film such as the Arkenstone.

My son's verdict on the film? 7 3/4 out of 10.  But it should have, could have, been 10 out of 10.  And that's my point.  It seemed that fellow cinema goers agreed.  I was hoping that this film would be so good that it would get a standing ovation.  But it didn't happen.  No-one clapped at all.


  1. I was disappointed with it too. They deviated too far from the plot.

    1. I agree, I'm going to see it again next week, and hopefully I will enjoy it more the second time. Thanks so much for your comment Anna.