These Peter Jackson/Tolkien movies are a lot like BMWs. They might not appeal to your personal taste but it’s impossible not to notice that they’re exquisitely made.
I’ve also found that movie-goers usually fall into two groups where these things are concerned. The first group adores the the earlier Lord of the Rings
epics and, in fact, wouldn’t mind if they were even longer. These people are often rather dismissive of the newer, The Hobbit
trilogy in a polite way.
The second group finds the first films to be nearly insufferable in length and liturgy, but find The Hobbit
trilogy to be lovely and fascinating.
I belong to the latter.
In fact, it perplexed me that so many people whose opinion I respect loved the earlier movies, and I just didn’t get it.
So this time around, I did what I suggest parents do with their kids: The book is 300 pages long. Each film covers almost EXACTLY 1/3 of the book. Ingest them this way. It added a lot. A much richer experience. The books did not speak to me as a child; I don’t think I was sophisticated enough to appreciate them yet. But seeing the movies this way gives you an incredible admiration for the near-slavish dedication offered to bring each and every page to life. Every page. Maybe a bit too much.
My biggest complaint is that the cut-off between the second and third installments diffuse the impact of Smaug the dragon and his fabulous sequence. Two films would have done it, but that’s been argued and covered already.
The title, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
also serves as the complete synopsis. Quite literally.
That’s the point, that’s the plot. Period.
It’s an epic battle that builds for almost two and a half hours.
The first two films had more sparkle and magic than this one. This episode is about (again) battle. Lots and lots of it. I wish American audiences had been more accepting of the high-def filming technique that Jackson tried to introduce. It makes fight sequences infinitely easier to follow.
Sir Ian Mckellen continues to be a marvelous sport about being slapped around and filthy with a grin on his face and Martin Freeman is as earnest as ever as Bilbo.
Strangely, this last film serves as the best “stand-alone” of the entire series. The lines of good versus evil are so starkly drawn that you wouldn’t need to know all of the subtext to understand the curve. It helps exponentially, of course, but you’d get it.
Finally, it wraps up the whole cinematic Tolkien world in a very classy, emotional and respectful manner. Thank God Jeffrey Katzenberg didn’t produce this series or it would have ended with all of the characters dancing to a Monkees song or an out-take reel.
I recommend this movie.
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