Late Reviews: The Hobbit Battle Of The Five Armies

Not pictured: a single, solitary hobbit.

I have mentioned in the past that my wife is not a geek.  There is one noteworthy exception to her non-geekiness, which is some fantasy stuff like Harry Potter and the works of Tolkien.

That’s why it is so surprising to me that we didn’t get around to seeing the last of The Hobbit movies until this past Saturday.  Or maybe it isn’t.  Spoilers after the cut.

Man, what happened?

I mean, Peter Jackson made magic with The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Why did the follow-up films seem so lackluster?

Possibly because he didn’t really want to make them this time.

Man, I wish Guillermo del Toro had directed as originally planned.

Ok, so this movie…

Remember how I said my wife likes all things Tolkien?  I mean, we went to see the first two in the theaters and when the first one was on HBO, if she caught it while flipping channels, she left it on.  Well, she got bored real fast with this one.  And why shouldn’t she?

I mean, excusing the fact that you know certain characters have to live (namely Bilbo, Gandalf, and anyone who appeared in this movie that maybe wasn’t part of the original story but was in Lord of the Rings), but there didn’t seem to be any real urgency here.  Gandalf’s rescue from Sauron in the beginning of the movie is a perfect example of this.  While I am sure seeing Galadriel, Elrond, and Saruman in action was meant to be just cool, I mostly wondered what the heck was going on and why I should care.

This may be best epitomized by the subplot of sorts for the minor character of Alfrid, sidekick to the Master of Laketown, who seems to exist to keep trying to keep himself alive and maybe steel himself some gold.  He repeatedly tries to either get out of work, does it badly, or stay away from the fighting during the, you know, battle of the five armies.  His antics aren’t particularly funny, and in the end, he isn’t really punished near as I can make out.  Unless something happened when I had to go to the bathroom and didn’t bother to pause the blu-ray.

I did do that once.

So, getting back to this movie…

I think the big problem here was more and more characters kept showing up and saying stuff, but we weren’t really given much to care about.  The battle was poorly paced and made up most of the movie.  Where was the drama?  The second movie at least did something to give most of the individual dwarves personalities of their own, but that was mostly lost in this film, where the most vivid dwarf may have been the newcomer, Thorin’s cousin Dain, played by Billy Connolly, and that may be because he was played by Billy Connolly.  And also because I was actually wondering if Connolly was there under make-up or motion-capture.  And the dwarves weren’t the only problem.

Let’s take the humans of Laketown.  I have no idea how any of them survived the burning fires of Smaug or the attacks by all those orcs, goblins, and trolls.  They were fishermen, but somehow knew how to swing a sword without cutting their own legs off.  Yet somehow there were still many left when the movie was over.  And what happened to the orcs?  The second army looked like it was made up of a bunch of bats and something like 40 orcs by the time they finally showed up.

That may be the biggest problem.  All that spectacle and none of it looked all that “real”.  I know there was a lot of CGI in the first film, but at least the armies looked like they had dimension and weight.  The battle in this one made me think I was watching a video game being played by someone else.  And it was a video game plastered with cut scenes where various characters could pause between orc slaughtering to have weighty conversations.  You didn’t see that sort of nonsense during the Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers.

Really, this is what happens when you take a short, lighthearted book and turn it into three movies.  There was no reason to make this three movies.  One long one would have been sufficient.  Between the nods and fan service to the previous movies, the faceless masses in the different armies, and a seeming lack of consequences, this movie series just wasn’t worth it.  There was a really good reason my wife and I waited this long to see it.  The end seemed to do little better than set up some much better movies that already exist.

There was still some decent music in the background and some other treats, but for now, let’s say it was a mere three Arkenstones out of ten.


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