REVIEW: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Fantastic battle scenes, too many romantic subplots.

The Hobbit- The Battle of the Five Armies

Name: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Logline: It’s Dragonslayer meets The Warriors

Quick Review: The third—and final—installment in Peter Jackson’s last (?) Middle Earth saga finds our heroes in all kinds of dire straits: Smaug, the vainglorious dragon (voiced magnificently by Benedict Cumbatch), has just launched himself to wipe out nearby Laketown; a giant army of orcs is amassing to take the Lonely Mountain stronghold that the Dwarves have just won; and Thorin (Richard Armitage), the leader of these dwarves, has just succumbed to “dragon sickness” in which he values the vast gold and treasure of the mountain above all things. And yet, there’s a sense that the story has been watered down considerably to fulfill the requirements of a full—and bloody lengthy—trilogy. What might have made an excellent single film has been stretched as thin as an artist’s canvas. Despite the continued beauty of Jackson’s home country in New Zealand, everything falls short of our expectations. There are good, enervating moments, but unlike “Lord of the Rings,” this series has never quite justified itself, a depressing trend that reaches its unhappy apex here.

Best Element: That said, there’s a pretty spectacular battle between elves, dwarves, orcs, humans, and a bunch of giant wild animals, in which Jackson employs many of the scale/focus winning tricks that made the “Lord of the Rings” series so exciting.

Worst Element: All the trumped-up romance sub-plots: Everyone seems to have a thing for everyone else, and it’s all very honorable and true and noble and at no point do you care enough about these characters to become terribly interested. Everyone needs to keep it in their magic pants.

Sample Dialogue: “My lord! The orcs have come to Ravenhill, the Dwarves are about to be overrun! Thorin must be warned!”

Should I See It?: If you’re a big fan of Middle Earth, nothing I say will sway you; for everyone else, there are a great many films playing right now (Whiplash, Birdman, Force Majeure, Foxcatcher) that better deserve your time.

Playing Now: AMC Cherry Hill 24 (3D & IMAX)

Piers Marchant is a film critic and writer based in Philly. Find more confounding amusements and diversions at his blog, Sweet Smell of Success, or read his further 142-character rants and ravings at @kafkaesque83.