The defining chapter in the Hobbit Trilogy is anything but. Beyond the impressive visuals and all-too-familiar sweeping landscape shots that are the hallmark of Peter Jackson’s directing, the movie leaves the audience feeling empty and unfulfilled. However, as disappointing as this last installment was, it was still better than the previous two. The best thing the second movie had going for it was Smaug, and in this last chapter of the nearly short story turned into three movies, but he dies off faster than Anne Hathaway in Les Mis. One thing is for sure, Norma Desmond would be quite proud of the movie, seeing as that the amount of diegetic dialog probably amounts to 15-20minutes of the 2hour movie. But, it is called Battle of the Five Armies, so that is pretty much what you get. A little exposition, a little setting up of the Lord of the Rings, from Lady Galadriel, Saruman, and Gandalf, but mostly just massive battle after massive battle. It was quite boring.
The final chapter of The Hobbit trilogy begins with the defeat of Smaug and quickly moves to the Lonely Mountain where the dwarves stake claim to the treasure and kingdom that was once theirs. Falling prey to “dragon sickness,” Thorin begins to succumb to the magic of the massive treasure and becomes consumed with the search for the Arkenstone. With Lake Town destroyed by the dragon, the people move to reclaim Dale for their own. However, the dark shadows in the east are rising and Orks take to the battle theatre to stop the Elves, Men, and Dwarves from claiming the Kingdom of Erebor for themselves. Thorin must overcome his sickness in order to help defeat the evil lurking at the base of the mountain. And, peoples that are very divided from one another must join forces or die.
This is one of those movies where there really isn’t much to talk about. You have the death of Smaug and a long sequence of battles that finally culminate at one massive battle for Erebor and Dale. The beginning is quite exciting with Smaug wreaking havoc upon Lake Town and her people. After waiting for a year to see Smaug in action–the actual desolation of Smaug that really wasn’t seen in the second movie–he dies during the prologue. Before you think that you’re going to get a lot of narrative exposition setting up The Fellowship of the Ring, think again. Beyond seeing the Witch King of Angmar and Sauron’s fiery eye, there isn’t much to tell. Lady Galadriel, Saurman, and Lord Elrond put up an amazing fight against the undead kings of men and the reawakened force of Sauron, but that’s pretty much it. I recognize that this is the closing chapter so it isn’t smart to add lot of new information, but because it is part of a larger story, there should have been more effort put into setting up the following LOTR trilogy. Bilbo makes appearances here and there, and somehow manages not to die in battle, but there is very little of the hobbit in the series that bears his namesake. Dialog, exposition, and story truly suffer in this movie. If you want to see epic battle scenes very well and impressively executed, then this is a movie for you.
If you prefer a movie with a compelling or intriguing story, with memorable characters, then this movie is not for you. I am glad I saw it so I can close out this trilogy, but I don’t think I will be rushing to get it for myself anytime soon. It is quite apparent in this final chapter that Peter Jackson has gone from a boyhood Tolkien fan to a fan of money. His first trilogy captured the very essence of The Lord of the Rings books (says fan Jen Wead), even though certain elements had to be cut because film is a visual medium. He put so much emphasis on the dragon and kills off his star even faster than Janet Leigh in Psycho. Maybe this movie will see better reviews from the ardent fans. But, that is not likely the case.