The Last Visit to Middle Earth… Hopefully!

The 144-minute-long Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies manages to be a slightly more tolerable viewing experience than the mind-numbingly lengthy previous installments. The The_Hobbit_-_The_Battle_of_the_Five_Armieslast hurrah of this over-stretched mess of a trilogy is another CGI-filled blockbuster that can’t help but squeeze loyal fans out of their last dimes. While somewhat entertaining at times, the film is doomed from the start. The constant wink-wink nudge-nudge moments referring back to the Lord of the Rings are cringe-worthy at best, transparent in their half-hearted efforts to replicate the magic of Peter Jackson’s first trilogy. The seminal villain Smaug is brushed aside a measly 20 minutes into the film, and from there on the downhill never ends. Bilbo fades to the background in his own adventure, and the childlike joy of the Hobbit is inevitably lost in the deep, dark halls of Erebor. The ending is disappointingly abrupt: none of the plot threads are resolved after the glorious end battle, except for Bilbo’s, who is perfectly content to pop back into his little hobbit hole and brew a pot of tea. This is not to say that there are no good moments in the movie: the fight scenes are visually impressive and the tear-jerking misfortunes of the dwarves will melt even the coldest of hearts. Thranduil is cooler than ever, riding that elk like there’s no tomorrow, and Dain’s appearance as the Irish dwarf berserker who turns the tide of the battle is simply glorious – further accentuated by his steed, the mightiest war pig in all of Middle Earth. However, aside from these fleetingly delightful moments, the rest of the movie relies primarily on the nostalgia factor of its viewers, a factor which Peter Jackson was certainly banking on.

Tickets for the film (Photo by Laura Kurki)

The biggest downfall of the film is the very thing that has plagued the whole trilogy: each installment has been excessively bloated despite the short length of the original book. The long scenes that drag on and on and on are enough to put the snooze on even the hardiest of dwarves. Incredulously enough, Jackson does not manage to dedicate enough time for Bilbo or any of the other characters, but rather leaves everything hanging. Perhaps there’s a fourth movie we haven’t heard about yet? Nevertheless, a big chunk of screen time is awarded to the strangely pronounced and supposedly humorous bits that attempt to force a few necessary laughs out of the audience. I was saddened to notice that these scenes were all that remains from the lighthearted and charming ambience of Tolkien’s novel. Alfrid, the advisor of the Master of Laketown, has been made the butt of most jokes, which means staring at that ghastly unibrow for what feels like a third of the film. Cheap laughs seem to be all that the flick is striving for, ambition and good taste be damned!

Growing up with Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s characters have a special place in our hearts. This makes the blatant effort to butcher most of the Hobbit’s original essence that greater of a travesty. Considering Jackson’s ability to stretch the short novel into a massive trilogy, I think we can all rejoice at the fact that there was no more material for him to work with – which apparently was the only reason for the “conciseness” of this last film. Now that Bilbo has gone there and back again, all that is left is to await for the manifestation of rumors of a Silmarillion adaptation…

The Hobbit (Photo by Laura Kurki)

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