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The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (2014)


I wrote about the first two Hobbit movies and their major problem (they’re not about Bilbo) last year.

Last night I rewatched The Battle of Five Armies for the first time since it came out in the cinemas. And it’s hard to muster the energy to talk about it. Everything I said before is true: Bilbo is lost as a character, there’s too much about Thorin’s backstory, and there’s too much meaningless tertiary stuff.

There are also war beasts: a war moose, a war pig, war goats, war sandworms, war bat-thingies, wargs, horses, ponies, eagles, orcs, elves, dwarves, a talking crow (but not the thrush), and a very large dragon (however briefly). The war moose was funny in the first film and delightful to see again in the third, because what the hell were they thinking. And then there’s a war pig. And then dwarves on goats. Bats. Giant fucking sandworms that don’t just tunnel under the Lonely Mountain and end the war right then and there but instead deposit the orcs at some distance (and up a hillside) from the battle. I mean, really. What the hell.

And we get a huge – and I do mean huge – set-piece battle that goes on and on and god-damned on and the tide turns not when the eagles finally show (and for once the eagles show up without Gandalf using a moth to call to them?) but when Thorin & Co join in.

Thirteen dwarves.  Versus nine kadrillion monsters.

And there’s a fight in a cave system that leads out to an ice-over river that is atop an iced-over waterfall that’s like a thousand feet above the battlefield because Peter Jackson got so tired, you guys; so tired and the only way forward is up, so Thorin and the greyish-white orc that is his mortal enemy fight on the ice and the orc is wearing a codpiece that’s a skull and then fucking Thorin cleverly knocks the orc into the freezing water but then he just stands there and, like, gloats instead of getting off the ice and so the orc stabs him in the foot and then they fight more and Thorin has to like sacrifice himself to kill the orc who is immune to hypothermia but is not immune to elven blades, and then Thorin staggers – staggers – to the edge of the iced-over waterfall and watches people kill other people from literally miles away and smiles mistily and somehow understands that the good guys are winning and then falls to his knees because he still hasn’t just died already, and Bilbo rushes over and instead of having their cathartic bedside chat about how Thorin was wrong they just sort of glow at each other dewily because, secretly, the entire film series has been about how Thorin is in love with Bilbo or something? But then Thorin finally dies and all this took about seven hours to happen.

Meanwhile, a bajillionty new plots are invented and discarded; Thranduil is apparently into some necklace that they all talk about for a scene and then is never mentioned again; I can’t remember who winds up with the Arkenstone (and I don’t care); there’s a wizard/elf boss fight between Sauroman, Elrond, Galadriel, the bird-shit covered brown wizard* and Gandalf versus the nine witch kings; Thranduil and Legolas have some sort of weird bonding moment over his mother which all I can guess is Jackson half-heartedly setting up a movie version of the Silmarillion?

Please, God, no. By all that’s holy.

And then we have the least touching, dumbest love story of this decade: Kili and Tauriel. Token Girl Gets Heart Broken by Dead Dwarf. She weeps over his body; Thranduil appears; she asks why it hurts so much; he intones ‘because it was real.’

No, Tauriel; it hurts so much because you love The Hobbit and you loved Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and this adaptation of The Hobbit is such a terrible disappointment it makes you wonder if the Lord of the Ring films are actually any good at all or if your entire nerd life for the last 15 years has been the unkillable skull-wearing orc swimming under the iced-over waterfall of inflated expectations and too-easily-impressed naiveté.

If the Hobbit films had been fun that would have been something. Or if they’d been funny. Or even just maybe if they’d been faithful to the source material. But they’re boring. They’re misguided. And, unlike the Lord of the Rings trilogy, they don’t feel like a labor of love. They feel like they were produced to fulfil a contractual mandate. They are a slog. They are a waste of all the years of hard work, of talent and of passion, of hundreds of people. And so, at the end of the day, all we can do is hope that someone, someday, makes a better version. I’m sorry it probably won’t have Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen in it.



*yes, obviously I know it’s Radagast but come the fuck on, Bridget.