The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies started out strong: a giant, fire-breathing dragon descending on a small village of unarmed fishermen who lived in rickety wooden buildings – destructive shenanigans abound. After thirty minutes of non-stop fire and death, an everyman named Bard who just wanted peace for his beautiful family and his beautiful self, slayed the dragon by piercing its cold, black heart with the equally cold, black Black Arrow (aka: giant spear with a feathered bit on the end). With the dragon dead and 10% of town lakes populace saved (including the inexplicably out-of-place Asian lady), we could roll the opening titles.
That was just the beginning of the action? You mean there’s two more hours of this action-packed nonsense?
Not quite. Peppered in between scenes of vast hoards assembling for battle, orcs getting beheaded (interestingly, no elves, dwarves or men get the same, gruesome treatment) and goofy mounts, are subplots generated from the iScreenplay AutoMovie Maker. Audience members are subjected to a forbidden romance between a hideous dwarf and a porcelain-faced elf, Thorin’s inner struggle with his own innate greed (sorry, I mean, “dragon sickness”), and Legolas’s not-quite-flushed-out bitterness toward his father.
I understand that a movie shouldn’t be truly non-stop action. In order for good character development, there needed to be a break, but with such uninteresting characters, this development was nothing but tedium. Even the heavy hitters couldn’t rouse my interest, mostly because their entrances (I speak of Galadriel, Saruman and Elrond) was simply lip service to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and not about developing the movie that I was currently watching.
And what was the hobbit doing while all this action and subplots were developing you might ask? Not much. He had the odd line or two, but did nothing to advance the plot, for it seemed that his character already completed his arc well before the start of the movie. Then he got hit in the head and passed out for a good portion of the battle. He wasn’t doing much to help anyway, just throwing rocks. Little wonder Jackson abandoned him to let the badasses do their thing.
By the end of all the fighting, Lake Town’s populace has dropped to 10% of its post-Smaug numbers (that’s 1% of the original population if you were keeping track) and several key dwarves have died. But we don’t stick around for the burials, because we’ve got a movie to wrap up! So here comes the quickest denouement you’ve ever seen!
Walk, walk, walk.
Bilbo have Ring?
No! Bilbo no have Ring. Okay, you caught Bilbo. Yes, have Ring.
Look old Bilbo!
Now watch LOTR.