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Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

So here’s the rundown of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (which will be referred to as Hobbit 3 from here on out).

It’s an action movie, plain and simple.  There is fighting for a good 100+ minutes of its 144 minute runtime, and it felt like 43 of the remaining 44 minutes are dedicated to the postscript.  I know the final film in the Lord of the Ringstrilogy dragged out the ending but at least that was based on the books.  This film’s ending(s) do a great job of making almost no sense.

But I guess I’m getting ahead of myself.  The film starts where the last one left off.  Smaug is devastating the countryside and the human settlement of Laketown is taking the brunt of it.  Things happen and some refugees led by Bard (Luke Evans) seek out the dwarves in the now-abandoned Lonely Mountain, looking for the payment they were promised.

Too bad Thorin (Richard Armitage) is now inflicted with ‘dragon sickness’ a.k.a. greed and refuses to part with a single gold coin.  The situation gets even more convoluted when an elven army led by Thranduil (Lee Pace) arrives to claim treasures that once belonged to the elves.

Then a force of dwarves show up followed by an orc army.  Guess who everyone else hates and has to fight against for survival?  Yeah, it really should have been called The Battle of the Two Armies, One of Which was Made of Many Disparate Races.  I guess that one didn’t sound as cool.

Since there is so much action you would think that it would be amazing, right?  Welllllll…that would be a yes and a no.  The scripted fight scenes are still impressive and there is a lot of cool and funny stuff going on in the background.  Unfortunately the CGI in Hobbit 3 is easily the worst of the six films in the series.  There are so many incidents of bad CGI that it made me wonder if WETA sub contracted half the film out to college students.

If you can get over the so-so special effects, you can then be disappointed by the acting.  Thorin’s insanity is shown through strange slow motions and vocal changes, as well as a scene in which his psychosis manifests hilariously.  The unemotional elves, including Orlando Bloom, are way too unemotional except for Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) who overcompensates for everyone else.  Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) are barely in it.  Nobody else is worth mentioning.

While not a bad movie it feels like a letdown from its predecessors.  Hobbit 3 is just an action movie set in Middle Earth, made to squeeze a few more dollars out of the fans.