director: Peter Jackson
writers: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro
starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage
genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy
released: December 10, 2014 (Germany), December 17, 2014 (U.S.), December 18, 2014 (Greece), December 26, 2014 (Australia)
Having now seen the film, I can say wholeheartdly that my decision to boycott it theatrically proved to be the right choice. As the property should have remained a two parter film series as it was originally planned and not be remembered as the second rate, greedy and uninspiring trilogy farce that it is now.
After the events of the second film, the dragon Smaug is still reigning terror over Laketown while Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) is a prisoner at the hands of the Nazgûl. Meanwhile the dwarf group led by Thorin (Richard Armitage) will have to decide what they will do with their new found treasure on the Lonely Mountain and if former allies should unite before the real threat comes knocking on their door.
What's more infuriating than unnecessary trilogies or long films is when they don't really know how to bookend them. I despise films that live off the cliffhanger without tieing things up and make the next film feel as if the previous film never ended. A great example of this is the "Matrix Revolutions", also a little bit in the new "Hunger Games" and also here in the third "Hobbit" film. Though as worse as the lack of tieing story-lines properly up is the fact that the third film is pretty much a retread of the "Return of the King". Factions uniting together and seperating their differences to battle against the evil armies of Mordor. And while entertaining at times this may be, we already did see the better version of it years ago.
Naturally their are some plot threads that do give the film some merit. Such as Thorin's storyline that really is the best thing about the film and the trilogy. His arc is spectacular, the direction of it phenomenal and actor Richard Armitage performance pitch perfect. It really is Peter Jackson best work in the whole trilogy. For example if this was all done in one film it would have been probable that Armitage would have been known from now on as Oscar nominee Richard Armitage.
Additionally the whole Sauron/Necromancer sub plot isn't that bad, with the incredibly cool king effects that any "Dark Souls" fan would drool over and some intriguing decision making and powers by both Galadriel and Saruman. Which have never really been explained but were cool enough to glance over. It just didn't play an important enough role to the bigger Dwarf plot and could have been easily cut out as with many other things in the film.
Which is generally the trilogy's most unforgivable problem, that minor subplots take away the focus from other more crucial plot points. The first film was dreadfully long for no reason, then the second film wasted so much time with the stupid Laketown detour and the third film with the Nazgul and again with the silly Laketown resident plight. Which all lead to the same old question that came about from the beginning of the production. Ultimately, why did Guillermo del Toro truly leave the project? Why couldn't Jackson hire someone else talented to do the film and what was this stupid desire of his to change a formula that isn't broken. Such as the CGI orcs from the practical effect ones and the extension of the "book" beyond its length. When he was the one defending the omission of Tom Bombadil in the "Fellowship of the Ring".
In the end it doesn't really matter, as these films made a ton of money from people expecting the same glorious moments the original trilogy had provided to them. Which in hindsight turns out to be a similar type situation to the "Star Wars" prequels. More than anything else this series should be a lesson to filmmakers to think of substance and quality over greed and milking the cow more than it can muster. Because the cash will inevitably come, the backlash though that comes with it is on them.
For all intents and purposes the film isn't horrific its just overdrawn, frivolous and too small in scope to throw your money at. Where the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy was this incredible and vibrant fantasy trilogy that showed another world to admire and enjoy. The "Hobbit" trilogy is like going to that favorite vacation resort you always go to and extending it from the usual 3 day weekend to a full two weeks. Expecting it to be the same marvelous and comforting journey that by the end loses its charm and becomes entirely forgetable.