Peter Suderman Reviews The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies


Warner Bros. / New Line

I reviewed The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the final film in director Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy.

The short version? It's too damn long—not just this movie, but the entire three-film project. From my review:

At 144 minutes, "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" is the shortest of director Peter Jackson's six Middle Earth movies yet, and yet it still feels endless. The finale to a trilogy at least two films too long, it plays like an extended third act that lacks the traditional rhythms of a feature film. It's exhausting and interminable, a big-budget, high-fantasy slog that will test the patience and endurance of even the most devoted fans of the source material.

Like its two predecessors, "The Battle of the Five Armies" is an adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's children's fantasy, "The Hobbit." Mr. Jackson has taken that slender, 300-page prequel novel about hobbits, dwarves, and dragons and expanded it into a pummeling, garish, noisy blockbuster — or, rather, into three of them.

With a total running time of roughly eight hours, not including the extra hour's worth of bonus material on Jackson's extended editions, the movie trilogy will take most people longer to watch than the book will to read.

Mr. Jackson is no stranger to Mr. Tolkien's fantasy world. A little more than a decade ago, he adapted "The Lord of the Rings," a trilogy of novels about an epic journey through the land of Middle Earth to destroy a ring of great power, one that inevitably tempted its bearers to evil, slowly chipping away at their souls.

Mr. Jackson's take on that series was glorious, a giant-sized passion project from a director deliriously in love with the books. It had scale and scope, bombast and bravado. It was also a massive commercial success.

With the prequel trilogy Mr. Jackson has tried to conjure up a similarly grand sense of adventure, but neither he nor the material are up to it. 

Read the entire review at The Washington Times.