The third movie in the Hobbit trilogy is like watching someone else play a video game. It’s maybe 20 minutes of story stretched into a two and a half hour movie. Most of the running time consists of a giant battle between dwarves, elves, humans, and orcs. The entire time, I just kept wishing Bilbo Baggins would just quietly sneak away and go home.
When we left Bilbo and company in the last movie, The Desolation of Smaug, they had found their way into the mountain and awakened the dragon Smaug. Now Smaug is attacking nearby Laketown and killing everyone he can. Bard the Boatman is the only one who can stop Smaug, and he’ll have to break out of prison first.
The fight with Smaug is the most exciting part of this movie. Unfortunately, Smaug is dealt with in the first 10 minutes. After that, the survivors of the town need a place to stay. Bard decides that the Lonely Mountain is the best place for them. Also, Thorin promised them he would split the treasure with them so they want some of that. But Thorin is starting to develop dragon sickness, which basically means he’s paranoid and thinks everyone else wants to steal the treasure for themselves. So he refuses to let the humans in. Then the elves show up, and they want some of the treasure too. Just as the humans and elves are about to attack the dwarves, an army of orcs show up. They fight for a couple of hours and then the movie mercifully ends.
Remember how cool the Battle of Helm’s Deep was in The Two Towers? That was something we’d never seen before. The scale of it was incredible, and the special effects were amazing. But it didn’t go on for too long, and we cared about what happened to Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. Then Peter Jackson thought he had to top that battle in Return of the King. So we got the battle for Minas Tirith which went on way too long But once again, we knew and cared about the characters involved. And the movie was about more than just that battle. We had Sam and Frodo’s journey to get back to.
In this third Hobbit movie, there’s nothing else going on. The battle is it. And Bilbo was just in the background most of the time. It’s hard to care about the outcome of a battle when you barely know the characters involved. I’m not even sure who the five armies are. There are humans, elves, dwarves, and orcs.
I’m sure Peter Jackson wants us to care about the love triangle between the dwarf, the female elf, and Legolas. And I’m sure he wants us to care about Thorin Oakenshield and whether he’ll come to his senses. But I didn’t. I just wanted the movie to end.
As with the first two Hobbit movies, the laws of physics don’t apply. Characters jump and swing 30 feet in the air and land safely. If something big is about to fall on our heroes, it misses them by a few inches. At one point, Legolas is on a collapsing bridge. As he runs, blocks are falling out underneath his feet, but he is still able to run and jump to safety. The blocks are suspended in the air just long enough for him to step on them. You’ll know it when you see it. The movie has turned into Super Mario Bros.
I remember an interview where Peter Jackson was talking about the challenges of writing The Lord of the Rings. He said whenever they were unsure how to structure the movies, they just focused on Frodo. His quest to destroy the ring was the central focus of the movies. Bilbo Baggins should have been the focus of these Hobbit movies. But it seems like he was just a supporting character, which is a shame because Martin Freeman was a great choice for Bilbo. I would love to see all three of these movies edited down to a 100 minute movie with Bilbo as the focus. I’m sure someone will create a fan edit on youtube that will be way better than this trilogy.
The more I think about this movie, the more annoyed I get. The first two were overly long, but at least the characters were on a journey. There was a story there, and I wanted to find out what was coming next. This time, the story feels wrapped up when Smaug is killed. Then we have to sit there for two hours and watch these armies fight. I’m not anxious to watch the first two movies again, but I could never sit through this one again.