(Note: There will be spoilers in this blog post, so if you haven't seen the movie or read the book and are intent on not having it spoiled, well, sorry.)
I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy; I own DVD copies of all three movies, plus the extended edition blu-rays. I love LOTR and have for a long time. I expected to love the Hobbit movies (despite my pretty "meh" feelings about the book).
The Hobbit as a book takes me about 2 hours to read. It's a short book. Breezy. Fast-paced. Not too serious. There's some heartache there, but no serious subplots.
The first film of the Hobbit (the Unexpected Journey) was good; I liked it. It combined the things I loved about the LOTR movies -- the Shire, travel, light adventure, minimal battle scenes -- and created additional characters for me to love. I fell for Thorin, I believed in him; I liked Bilbo, despite knowing what happens to him; I even liked the nameless dwarves and the inexplicably handsome Fili & Kili (let's just admit that Kili is the weirdest looking dwarf in terms of what we know about dwarves, he has to be half-human, right?).
The second film (The Desolation of Smaug) is where things got a little weird for me. I liked it, just to be clear. It's a good movie! It's fun! Smaug is hilarious (all I can think of when I see Smaug is Benedict Cumberbatch crawling around on the floor with motion-capture balls stuck to his face). It's a good movie! It does a good job expanding the story, creating an interesting match between the elf Tauriel and the potentially half-something-else Kili. I love Lee Pace as Thandruil -- easily the most fabulous elf in all the land. I've watched Desolation of Smaug multiple times on my own without being forced, so obviously, I enjoy this movie.
Danny and I broke down and finally went to see the last film (the Battle of the Five Armies). I knew it was going to be battle-heavy going in, but... it was still a lot of battle scenes. Like, a lot of them. (Note: Here's where spoilers start.)
I was not prepared for the movie to move so slowly. It was like molasses dripping out of a bottle! And yet, there were still moments, despite how slowly everything was moving, where I found myself asking -- wait, what happened? How did they escape!? How did the townfolk of Laketown get out of the rubble of the town? It went from night-time to suddenly they were dragging themselves onto shore. Did they all swim? How did so many boats escape from underneath Smaug's body? Later on, towards the end, how did they beat back the orcs? Did the eagles help? The eagles seemed to go straight for the armies on the ground -- not the orcs attacking the city.
It happens in the book, I know, but I wasn't truly prepared for Thorin's almost immediate shift to insanity. (Danny and I laughed after the movie because we wanted dragon sickness to turn Thorin into a little dragon -- with short stumpy legs, a beard, and an amazing fur coat.) He went a full 180 from his previous personality in the space of about 24 hours in movie-time. How was that possible?
Both Danny and I thought it was hilarious that Smaug was killed within 5 minutes of the movie starting. Really? Really? Also, one big arrow takes down a huge dragon in about 10 seconds. Really? Did it hit his heart? A lung? No? After Smaug died so quickly, I knew I was in for a movie that was going to dwell on some weird aspects.
How many scenes of Thorin's craziness did we need? How many scenes of Thorin being told "you're nuts" did we need? How many scenes of Gandalf telling people another army was coming did we need? Let me tell you: one. You need one such scene, maybe two if they are different. Instead, we had the same ideas explained over and over again: Thandruil doesn't listen to anybody; Legolas loves Tauriel, Tauriel loves the inexplicably pretty dwarf; nobody will listen to Gandalf; Bard is so noble; Thorin is crazy; Bilbo is sneaky. Thanks! I think we got those bits!
Also, I hated the addition of the Alfred character in Laketown/elsewhere. Just kill him already!! We get it, he loves gold and is a wimp; we've had it slammed into our heads in literally every other scene, completely unnecessarily. Just kill him! I don't care! No one cares! This added minutes to a movie that didn't need any minutes tacked on to it.
Thorin is the absolute worst. Again, having read the book, I knew his fate. However, the first two movies set him up to fall so hard. He is established as a honorable leader in the first two movies, maintaining a level-headedness and stability. And yet, in the third movie, just to reiterate, he is immediately insane. There is little indication of this in the second film. He goes from covering Smaug in gold and kicking him out to... nuts immediately afterwards. Ok. Completely against his established character, but ok.
There was also an easily 5 minute scene where various things characters had said to Thorin in the last 20 minutes repeated over and over as he stood on a gold floor. It was such a long scene that I leaned over to Danny and whispered that this was the longest, most boring scene I'd ever sat through ever. And I saw Eyes Wide Shut in the theater when I was a kid! Guess what? The scene ended with him realizing he was being a total nutjob. Congrats, Thorin! You have an ounce of self-awareness. I don't know why a movie's worth of dialogue had to be repeated at us for it, but oh well.
The battle scenes were like the rest of the movie: drawn out and repetitive. Did I need to see Thorin's cousin smash in the heads of five orcs in a row? No, one would have shown he was a competent fighter and used a hammer in battle. Did I need to see every character beheading orcs, killing over and over and over again? No. No, I did not. I get it, it's a battle. Let's move on, please. I rarely ever get bored seeing a movie in a theater (I paid at least $8 to be there, I will fight the boredom), but during the drawn out last half of the movie (all battle, I swear), I found my mind wandering.
All in all, the thing I would say about this movie was it felt gratuitous and sloppy. Three LOTR movies made sense because there are three books (three long books, I should say). Three Hobbit movies might make sense, but the Hobbit is a very short book that is easily read by 6th graders. By the end of the movie, I felt like I'd been had; LOTR was a labor of love and clearly, the Hobbit movies are an act of greed, pure and simple. Someone wanted my nerd dollars and unfortunately, they got them.