Quick, someone travel back in time and tell 3 years ago me that I will end up liking Night at the Museum 3 more than Hobbit 3, and don’t forget to shoot video of the look on my face.
“The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies” is the conclusion to Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s story of “The Hobbit” drawing to a conclusion the story of Bilbo Baggins’ journey of adventure with Dwarves, Dragons, Wizards, and anybody else Peter Jackson decided he wanted to throw in there. It’s an epic finish to what is altogether, if you include the extended editions, about a 20 hour film investment of time in Middle Earth. So let’s just round up and call it a full day shall we? And what a day it’s been. Seriously it really is hard to talk about these movies outside of the context of the entire series, so lets just ponder for a second the incredible work Peter Jackson and his crew have done on this franchise of films. OK, good? So now lets talk about how they screwed up part 3 of the Hobbit.
Alright, I’m mostly kidding, overall I actually still dug this movie quite a bit. It’s well acted, fun, inventive, well shot, often moving, and breathtakingly gorgeous, especially if you get a chance to see it in HFR3D, which I’m praying is the future of cinema projection. And the performances are once again spectacular with Ian Mckellen, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, and Benedict Cumberbatch all putting in good work. And of course I’m always up for whatever physics shattering antics our pal Legolas might have up his Elvin sleeve as well. But the best thing, and what has probably been my favorite thing about these movies overall, was watching Martin Freeman become Bilbo Baggins. It’s one of those rare cases of perfect casting and perfect performance coming together to make a character come alive on the screen. Freeman can own a scene with one well placed sigh in the way that very few can and his skill is the primary reason I will revisit these movies down the line, because honestly overall it’s been a bit disappointing, and this movie is no exception.
Why? Well, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, Peter Jackson took what could have been 1 great film and turned it into 3 good ones. Just like the others this feels too long and too padded with unnecessary additions. Additions I gave a bit of grace to in the first two films because I assumed they would pay off big in part three. But here’s the worst part, they really don’t. The parts that work emotionally? the parts that resolve well? It’s all the Tolkien stuff. The stuff that feels confusing, shallow, and unfinished? It’s the stuff that was added to make 3 where there used to be 1. In editing you learn the power of addition by subtraction, here unfortunately I think we get the reverse, and it ends up partially sullying the conclusion an epic like this deserves.
Overall, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is still a spectacular finish to an epic series. The wonderful acting, technical acumen, and gorgeous visuals make it worth a look on the big screen, even if the story feels padded with additions that don’t seem to mean much when it’s all said and done. It’s primarily on the back of Martin Freeman’s solid portrayal of Bilbo Baggins that this one battles it way to a still disappointing B-.