The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

Let's start off with the expected: like the two movies that came before it, this movie doesn't have enough original story from the book to fill all of the time. As a result, stuff has been added that is not from the original book, and it is not particularly good additional material. That said, we get hobbits and dwarves and goblins and orcs and wizards and elves, so we still have a lot of potential.

The entire first and second (mostly the second) movie was a build-up to the encounter with Smaug. This movie begins where the second left off - with Smaug deciding to destroy the crappy floating village of Laketown. Aside from the lost lives, one can't help but think that destroying that town has to be a good thing - there is very little that is salvageable from one giant slum. There are a few problems with this whole sequence, though.

First, we ignore the fact that the child would never have seen his father on the top of the bell tower, frantically shooting arrows impotently at the sweeping passes being made by the dragon. We also ignore the unlikelihood that the kid would be able to find the Black Arrow where he hid it and then climb the tower in enough time before the dragon took out the aforementioned tower. Then, we ignore the fact that the dragon lands and decides to have a conversation with Bard from - I'm not exaggerating - about a mile away from each other. What really irks me is that we've had two very, very long movies to build up to this interaction with the dragon, and the whole thing is over in less than the first 15 minutes of this two and a half hour long movie.

From there, we get the build-up and eventual Battle of the Five Armies. For starters, I could have done without the comic relief of Ryan Gage as Alfrid. Well, I call it comic relief because they have him do things like dress as a woman to avoid going into battle, but he's not a funny character, he isn't played funny, and he brings no laughter to my heart. All he does is drag this trilogy out even more. And you know what? There aren't five armies. Even if you divide the goblins and the orcs (which you shouldn't, as they are divisions in the same army) you'd only have four. You have the elves, the dwarves, and the orcs and goblins.

For a bunch of warlike people, these people have absolutely no tactical abilities. The general idea behind all of the armies is to overwhelm with numbers and occasionally try to flank the enemy. The worst part is that the highly intelligent elves and the cunning dwarves never actually do anything beyond the straight-forward stab-and-step. The only tactical thinking of any kind is done by the smart-as-a-brick-wall orcs. Fortunately for the good guys, orc armor appears to be as well built as Stormtrooper armor, so they go down quickly, and with no real resistance.

This movie is two and a half hours long. The last damn half damn hour is epilogue, damnit! If you don't have enough story to fill three movies, then you shouldn't be trying to make a trilogy. This whole thing would have been a good movie - one movie. You MIGHT have been able to stretch it into two movies, if you were very careful and deliberate. This should never have been a trilogy. Peter Jackson does the source book a disservice by drawing it out like this and making a nice story about the adventure of a hobbit into a gnarly mess of scenes that have been shoved in because he wanted to justify the budget and needed the runtime.

Direction was okay
Acting was excellent
Effects were very good
Story was way drawn out
Dialogue was good

Bottom Line: I'm not sorry I saw it, but I'm glad it's over.



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