I still only count four armies: the dwarves, the elves, the orcs and the boring humans. What am I missing?
Since it is Peter Jackson’s last foreseeable Middle-Earth movie, no one is going to be too hard on him. Hell, there was a girl crying near the end of the movie in the back of the theatre I was in, during an “emotional” scene that no one would’ve cried in had it been any other film. But that’s the power Peter Jackson has. He can draw out anyone from the ages of seven to seventy-seven, just so we can all witness the finale to his cinematic elongation of a short Tolkien book.
There are a lot of minor issues with the movie. The extras have noticeably bad acting skills, taking you out of the experience. I mean, in a story all about communities and groups suffering, why should I care about them when only the main fifteen or so characters manage to provide noteworthy performances? And a few of the CGI effects look pretty fake. Not to mention the pacing of the movie is pretty poor. And there’s a horrible comic-relief character shoehorned in who I found to be MUCH worse than “the twins” from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Hell, if this were anything but a finale movie I’d say it’s probably not worth a watch. But since apparently everybody but me cares about Middle-Earth, I can say that if you’re a fan, you’ve already seen the movie and there’s no reason to read this. For the rest of us, it’s so-so.
To be real, the second half of the movie is entertaining. I mean, Bilbo and Thorin’s clashes are easily the best bits of the movie, but they’re so brief that at the end of the day you’re just there to see Thorin take down an Orc chieftain in one of the coolest fight scenes ever. And it’s not even a big fight scene, it’s just very tense and cleverly choreographed. I mean, I can still picture the blood darkening the ice from underneath the frozen icicle-laden waterfall… the imagery is stunning. But you have to sift through almost one and a half hours of “meh” to reach that point. In short, I recommend this movie if you are looking for a very satisfying matinee-price adventure.
Side-note: I didn’t really know where to put this in the actual review, so here is a bonus tidbit I feel compelled to share. This movie just felt like Peter Jackson jerking off in my face. Between the stupid romance that’s as cliche as it gets for adventure movies and a lackluster tying of loose ends to segue into The Lord of the Rings, it just felt like two hours of Jackson’s delusions of grandeur that I was sitting through, rather than a finale. Just a personal nitpick.