The only good thing about The Hobbit III is that it means Peter Jackson and his two-woman Harem of Stank is done squatting and urinating upon the text of Tolkien.
It’s a damn shame that the three Hobbit films feature so little of the titular hobbit.
Martin Freeman has established himself as a quietly great actor with serious dramatic and comedic chops, and his scenes in these movies have consistently been the best thing about the films. Bilbo Baggins is the only character capable of eliciting genuine reactions from the audience, which is what Peter Jackson’s bloated Hobbit trilogy needed more than anything—Bilbo’s scenes form the kernel of what could have been a smaller, quieter, but ultimately more narratively successful series of films, one where Bilbo’s personal journey isn’t swallowed whole by loud Lord of the Rings-style battle sequences.
Other than Freeman’s wonderful, quiet little scenes and a bare handful of others, Battle of the Five Armies is one big two-hour-and-24-minute-long argument against splitting the book up into three films.
The disappointing thing is that Jackson actually got off to a pretty good start. He did a wonderful job bringing the scenery of Middle Earth to life. The Shire and the hobbits were excellent. The first thing he really got wrong, in my opinion, was Arwen Evensong, followed by Rivendell and Elrond. But Arwen was a harbinger for Jackson’s lack of respect for the text, which only got worse as the movies went on, culminating in the insane decision to completely vivisect and spread out The Hobbit over three cash-grabbing vehicles.
Verdict: “These movies aren’t Star Wars prequel-level unredeemable, but both as a follow up to the Lord of the Rings movies and an adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, this new trilogy misses the mark in just about every possible way.”
The movies were not a complete loss. The first three were genuinely enjoyable despite the “improvements” to Tolkien’s masterpiece. Perhaps in another generation, a filmmaker will do the sort of justice to his books that the producers of A Game of Thrones have done to George Martin’s.