“So snow comes after fire, and even dragons have their endings,” Tolkien wrote in The Hobbit. So in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, snow and sorrow follow dragon fire, and even Peter Jackson trilogies have endings . . . or do they?
This final film in the Hobbit movie series is more thoughtful than the first two, and it’s compelling cinema, but it lacks a sense of closure.
As a matter of fact, like the others in the series, this last Hobbit movie is a bit of a mess. There are so many plot threads that scenes are short, following one another in quick, confusing succession. Action scenes dominate, with fights drawn out to laughable lengths. The screenplay is poorly written, as packed with clichés as a preteen paranormal romance.
And yet, some elements of the messiness serve a surprising purpose: they reveal the film’s intelligent interactions with the source text and deepen its emotional impact.
The movie opens exactly where The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug left off: the dragon is on his way to attack the town of Esgaroth on the lake. People flee in terror, while Bard the Bowman struggles to escape from prison in order to fight the dragon. The rest of the movie is taken up with the dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield’s dragon sickness, the greed of the elven king Thranduil, the desperation of the displaced people of Lake-town, and the hobbit Bilbo’s attempts to make peace among them.
This already complicated situation gets even messier when members of the White Council—Gandalf, Saruman, Elrond, and Galadriel—gather to drive Sauron the Necromancer out of his stronghold at Dol Guldur and learn that he has long been planning to send two enormous armies ...