The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Warner Bros., PG-13)

film hobbit3-smIf this new one is the best, what does that say about the other Hobbit movies?




film hobbit3

Well, now we have the final Hobbit movie in theaters, which means that the final Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movie is out (presumably), so now seems like a good time to reflect. Here are some deep thoughts on the subject: (1) The Hobbit movies are closer in quality to the Star Wars prequels and the Harry Potter movies than they are the original three Jackson LotR movies. (2) The third Hobbit is the best of this prequel trilogy. (3) Thought #2 serves only to highlight how embarrassingly bad the Hobbit movies really are: If this new one is the best, what does that say about the others? ’Cause I spent almost all of the third one making fun of it in my head.

Even if you’ve only seen the last 15 minutes of Hobbit 2 and know the official title of the new film (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies), you can pretty much figure out what’s going to happen here. Act 1: Deal with Smaug. Act 2: Armies gather. Act 3: Armies fight. I know I’m not the only one who has gradually learned to dread dealing with these bloated films.

But that’s another reason why Hobbit 3 is the best: It’s (relatively) short, coming in at 144 minutes, compared to Hobbit 1’s 169 minutes and Hobbit 2’s 161. And since pretty much all of that 144 minutes is fighting, it’s never too boring.

Sadly, this is me highlighting the good stuff. Lots of fighting! It’s short! It’s over! That’s about all I’ve got. The bad stuff: I’ve long since stopped caring. There’s not enough Cate Blanchett or Ian McKellan. The special effects somehow seem the worst of the series. (Why does Bilbo’s (Martin Freeman) scale keep changing so noticeably?) I don’t know if I’ll ever be excited to see a Peter Jackson movie ever again—and this is coming from someone who to this day still likes the majority of his film work.

Unlike a lot of people, I’m not against the breaking of one popular book into multiple movies. In my view, everyone wins: The studios make more money and the story is more thoroughly presented, which, in turn, makes the audience happy—when it’s done right. It isn’t done right here. All three of the Hobbit movies feel like a creatively bankrupt cash-in on the enduring popularity of Jackson’s original three LotR movies. While the ending of Battle of the Five Armies may put you in the mood to go back and watch the originals again, I don’t see anything putting me in the mood to watch the Hobbits ever again. | Pete Timmermann

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