With the dragon, Smaug, evacuated from Erebor, the party of dwarves take residence in their mountain of treasures, but with an army of orcs wanting to take it for its strategic position and a number of other armies coming to take a slice of what they believe they’re owed, how will the small group hold and what will be the lengths they go to to keep their gold?
As we come to the end of this trilogy that’s largely considered to be lesser than its fantastical forbearer, it would be an obvious question to ask where this two and a half hour epic goes, considering that its story was all but concluded by the end of the last film of the series.
We left the story with a dragon on his way to destroy a nearby fishing town, so is this film a two hour-long fight with a dragon? Without being too much of a spoiler, the answer is no. In point of fact the story set up by the first Hobbit film all but wraps itself up within the first ten minutes of The Battle of the Five Armies and what unfolds is something of a shifting of the goalposts, almost as if the makers are saying “ahh, but this is what’s been really going on all along”, which is a little insulting to the intelligence being that it’s perfectly clear that this never should have been a three film series.
Be that as it may, this instalment is probably the most exciting film of the series, if somewhat narratively fractured when compared to the last two films, as we are treated to what turns out to be a two hour long war on five fronts.
It’s a given that you must have seen the previous Hobbit films to fully enjoy this one, and what has been true of those films still applies to this one, the acting is pretty decent, the design work detailed and lush, the visuals like a rich oil paining and CGFX that vary between the miraculous and stuff that will obviously age terribly.
On a number of occasions the structure of this film, rendered from the barest scraps of the source material, becomes guilty of the literary weakness that Tolkien himself was known for, a penchant for dilly-dallying too long on small points while rushing through huge events. One can assume that a lot of this stems from trying to keep the titular Hobbit more relevant than the story would have him be, being that, in a war, all that’s left for an untrained hobbit to do is supply a moral compass.
Skipping from broader warfare to individual skirmishes, there is all manner of orchestrated tactics and instances of breathtaking daring-do, which sometimes feed into scenes that are truly touching.
All this boils down to a few basic truths, if you haven’t liked or seen this series so far, it’s unlikely you are going to enjoy this film; and despite the myriad of excellence on display there’s no getting around the fact that, come the end, you are left feeling rather hollow. It IS good but perhaps a little irrelevant.