That was a thing.
I could end my review now with that rather concise summary but I would feel that I'm doing a disservice to my army. I wanted to see this film in theaters but, sadly, my wife took ill so I was unable to make it. I wasn't exactly beating down the door to go see it after the first two movies either. I'm not a Tolkien purist, don't get me wrong.
I understand they're different mediums and all that but I also tend to take the view: don't change what isn't broken. The Hobbit is one of the most beloved children's stories of all time and trying to turn it into The Lord of the Rings 2.0 was always going to be like chipping away at Michangelo's David to look more like the Sistine Chapel.
|Greed is bad, m'kay?|
Battle of the Five Armies?
It's a thing.
There's a lot happening on screen, don't get me wrong. We get to see Elrond, Galadriel, Radaghast, and Gandalf team up like the Justice League to fight the Nazgul in a haunted castle. We get a surprisingly effective battle-scene between Smaug and poor Bard, the only man willing to stand-up and fight against the dragon. There's a lot of really impressive CGI on screen which makes it one of the best animated movies I've seen in a long time. Yes, I say animated. I'd compare it to the Star Wars Prequels but it's not that bad. People die, there's mourning and revenge.
It's all there.
|Amazing, albeit silly, visuals are par for the course.|
However, in the final confrontation between Azog and Thorin, I couldn't help but not care one bit. The White Orc has been propped up by three movies like he's just shy of Darth Vader with even Sauron barely able to keep him under control (!?) but his one-dimensional vendetta against Thorin has never managed to inspire the least bit of interest from me. Indeed, the entirety of the larger war is lost in a bunch of personal vendettas I don't really think fit the narrative they're telling.
The movies color palette is also irritating as the director goes out of his way to make things as dull, washed out, and drab as possible. This is even in relationship to the other movies so poor Evangeline Lilly, who is naturally an astoundingly beautiful woman, looks like as plain a perfect make-up elf can be. Everything is dark, somber, and dreary which might fit with the refugee situation but lingers over everything.
|If it's a video game on screen, it's a fun looking video game.|
The action scenes are big huge spectacles, even if the orcs are reduced to even more one-dimensional embodiments of evil than they were in the books (which is impressive). The "greed is bad" parallel is something I also liked even if it's the kind of thing we shouldn't need banged into our head every day, we clearly do.
I can't fault the actors for their roles. Everyone is clearly doing their best. Richard Armitage plays the sudden change in Thorin with a gravity largely undeserved by the script. Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Sylvester McCoy, and Ian McKellen turn the aforementioned "Justice League vs. The Nazgul" scene into something so entertaining I actually wanted more original material than less.
|Sir Ian is trapped in this movie.|
In conclusion, this isn't a bad movie but it's a silly one. Everything is big, grandiose, and epic which means nothing is epic. There's very few quiet moments in the film and those few which exist are all the stronger for it. I can't help but think a more deliberately paced film might have been a far-far more enjoyable experience. As such, I was bored about twenty-minutes in to a three-hour movie.