Expectations are at an all time high what with the Hobbit prequel trilogy drawing to a close. Thing is, there are a lot of loose ends to tie up -- both based on the book and created strictly from imagination by highly acclaimed director Peter Jackson. Even the titular confrontation itself sets the bar high as it stretches what is a small chunk of the book into a two-hour spectacle in the film adaptation. Keep in mind that There and Back Again is classified under juvenile fiction, which makes the focus of this movie trilogy even more confusing. The Battle of the Five Armies stretches much of the content in the book –and adds a good degree of creative freedom; only time will tell if Peter Jackson made good use of it. For now, we can ask: does The Hobbit stay true to Tolkien's vision or is it simply Michael Bay's Transformers with dwarves and elves?
The sad, short answer to that is: it's the latter. There were moments of conflict which brought out the best in terms of character development. Seeing Thorin's descent to near madness, Bilbo's earnest desire to do what's best for his friends tugs at the heart strings. And while the manner in which it was brought about left much to be desired, Thorin's final moments with his dear friend is something that will forever be etched in our memory.
On the downside, the loss of focus was a little too obvious for our tastes. Smaug's chapter ends abruptly within the first thirty minutes of the movie and is replaced by an onslaught of cameos and over-the-top green screen action scenes. It wouldn't have been so bad, had the resolution to the evil dragon's tale been smoother. Perhaps they could have reserved the cut for after Smaug's defeat, but alas, there is no natural progression between the two and it has resulted in a huge loss of impact.
The Long Road to Mordor
While there were plenty of bread crumbs leading us to the epic that is the Lord of the Rings trilogy, scenes related to core storyline of The Hobbit was shoved into the background. For starters, what happened to the Arkenstone? Were the white gems ever returned to the elves? Who became King of the Dale? why was there no funeral for Fili (Dean O'Gorman) and Kili (Aidan Turner)? Worse yet, there was funeral held for Thorin but they had enough time to give Bilbo an overlong scene trying to recover his furniture from the Sackville-Bagginses.
Unfortunately, that's not all there is to it. The film also suffers from unresolved build up. They show were-worms for a few seconds before they're chucked to the side and forgotten. We also really hated the fact that annoying Alfrid (Ryan Gage) had more screen time -- not to mention spoken dialogue -- compared to some of the dwarves. Don't get us started about the whole Azog (Manu Bennett) ice-floating-hero-killing scene. That was just awful.
Complete the Trilogy, but Leave Expectations Behind
Don't get us wrong, it's worth watching at least once. If you've gotten past The Desolation of Smaug without swearing off any more LOTR spin-offs, then you'll likely be entertained by the third's sporadic brilliance. The visuals are great, yet it's nothing new to the prequel trilogy. The charm of the children's story is lost amidst all the Matrix-like action scenes as well, which is actually our biggest gripe about this adaptation. We're not expecting everyone to break into song every fifteen minutes, but certainly there could have been more "heart". If only Peter Jackson focused more on brotherhood and camaraderie instead of a forced love story concocted for the movies, then maybe The Hobbit would have been just as epic as the original trilogy.