This is a spoiler free review!
I wanted to like this movie. I really did. But in the end, it all seemed very… well… meh. A mediocre movie wrapped up in a glittery package of epic fantasy battles and amazing CGI. I didn’t dislike it, don’t get me wrong. But it wasn’t anything amazing, either.
My biggest complaint with Battle of the Five Armies is that, for a movie that went out of its way to add more female characters, it had some pretty sexist moments. Tauriel had potential, but… in the end, she had no character autonomy. At all. There were moments when she tried to rebel and leave Thranduil, but in the end, it never actually worked without Legolas’s help. And her “big”, “defining” moment had no more impact on the film than the rest of her character. But enough about Tauriel. There were other female characters in the movie, right? Bard’s two daughters were also pretty frustrating. They ran around screaming and needed their brother’s help to protect them, even though he presumably has no more weapons training than them.
From a feminist perspective, there were probably two redeeming features to the story. First, there is a pretty awesome moment when Galadriel kicks some Nazgûl butt. It’s a pretty brief scene, but also totally awesome. The second is that, although the men try to send the women and children to safety at some point during the battle (I say ‘some point’ because the battle encompassed pretty much the entire movie and it all blurred together in my head), but the women are like “Heck no! We’re going to stay and help!”. So that was cool.
But really? No matter how cool those two scenes were, the movie was most definitely not feminist, and that’s disappointing. It could have been. It really could have been. Why not let Tauriel have a bigger effect on the story? Or maybe (heaven forbid) Bard could have been a woman in the movie. It isn’t like they didn’t already massively change the story in the movie from that in the book, and making Bard a woman would add a pretty major female character (with a much larger impact on the story than Tauriel). A real, actual, strong female character (which Tauriel is not). Or some of the dwarves could have been women. Or both!
But I digress.
The movie itself was… decent. It seemed really disjointed, and badly structured as well. Smaug was defeated much too quickly (like, ten minutes into the movie), and I feel like it would have been better to just get rid of him in Desolation of Smaug, then focus this movie on the battle.
Battle of the Five Armies didn’t feel like a movie in itself at all, really. I think it would definitely work better when combined with the other movies. It’s a conclusion, not a story.
Also, just out of curiosity, what happened to the Arkenstone? It was such a major part of the first quarter or so of the movie, and played a huge part in the trilogy overall, yet… it’s totally forgotten after the battle. We never find out what happens to it. The Arkenstone was a plot device, kinda like the eagles- it shows up conveniently, plays its part, and then disappears.
I think Legolas was one of the best parts of the movie. He did… you know, typical Legolas stuff. Like, say, stabbing a troll in the head with his sword and then riding it around the battlefield, using the sword (still stuck in said troll’s head) to steer. You know. That kind of stuff.
Okay, but seriously now. Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage’s acting was also great, and that also really improved my opinion of Battle of the Five Armies. Say what you want about the story itself, but the acting was well done.
But seriously. There were some really great moments between Thorin and Bilbo, whether you interpret it platonically or romantically.
But, I mean, overall…
A mediocre ending to a good trilogy. I’d give it about 3.5/10.