Before this film was released, I joked that The Hobbit: BOTFA was less #OneLastTime, and more #ThreeTimesTooMany. After being suitably underwhelmed by the previous pair of this trilogy, The Hobbit: BOTFA didn’t do enough to change my opinion.
To put it simply, succeeding arguably the greatest film trilogy of all time was an almost impossible task. Despite this, The Hobbit: BOTFA still fell short of my expectations.
To begin, I’d like to point out that Middle Earth has never looked as good as in The Hobbit: BOTFA. Scene after scene of beautiful scenery are again the perfect backdrop, and are a sterling use of CGI. Yet, some of the CGI on the actors would have looked more at home on an PS2 than in IMAX, which was a distraction.
Rather than feeling drawn out, the film and its 144 minute run time felt almost rushed. The Hobbit: BOTFA focused almost all of its attention on fighting, and whilst these action scenes were as vast and impressive as the landscapes, they did not cover up the film’s lack of story. In theory, less story wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing; God knows the previous two had plenty. Yet the picture lacked enough story to stop each battle merging into the next.
The timeline of these battles moved along briskly and developed well. Some issues however were resolved with too much ease in comparison to the build-up. These occasions, and there were several, made The Hobbit: BOTFA feel somewhat rushed.
Whilst I enjoyed the various battles, I was left disappointed by their lack of grit and bloodshed. The orcs, previously barbaric and fearsome, looked tame. I almost felt bad for the poor sods, being slain without much fight on their part. Furthermore, their deaths were very understated. I appreciate that The Hobbit was written as a children’s book and the 12A certificate nets a wide audience, but I did not appreciate the lack of gore. Almost no blood was seen, many executions were done off camera (even those central to plot), and death was generally hidden. At one point an orc was beheaded with all the visual splendor of a Lego decapitation. It wasn’t that I wanted Tarantino levels of violence, but a little more would have given the film an edge it was sorely lacking.
So was The Hobbit: BOTFA a worthy ending? Just about. In hoping that enough story was covered in the previous films, and giving it a 12A touch, The Hobbit: BOTFA is lacking. However, there is just enough to make it worthwhile. Luke Evans is a particular highlight. The Welshman’s performance shows him growing ever more into a very credible leading male.
The action is decent, the spectacle is there and its great to be back in Middle Earth. Yet, I am left feeling that if it wasn’t for the Lord of the Rings heritage, there would be no argument that this is little more than an average film.