The Bock’s Office: ‘The Hobbit’ — For the love of gold… | SteamboatToday.com

The Bock’s Office: ‘The Hobbit’ — For the love of gold…

Andy Bockelman

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) considers what might happen using his magic ring in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies." The movie is the final installment of the follow-up to the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Too much of a good thing inevitably has to have its downside. For those who have grown to love the cinematic tales of J.R.R. Tolkien, that aftereffect has finally come in the form of "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies."

If you go…

"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," rated PG-13

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

Running time: 144 minutes

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage and Benedict Cumberbatch

Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas and Craig's West Theatre.

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Middle Earth is experiencing unrest, to say the least.

After being awakened from his slumber, the evil dragon, Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch), is on a rampage destroying the settlement of Lake-town in retaliation for the actions of dwarven king Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage).

When the mighty beast is slain by the noble Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans), rebuilding their lives with the aid of the dwarves' reclaimed treasure is the first thing on their minds.

But, Thorin has no intention of sharing his horde with the race of men or the elven king Thranduil (Lee Pace), who also seeks to stake a claim in the fortune. In the middle of everything is the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) concerned that the myth of "dragon sickness" in his comrade may be entirely real.

Elsewhere, other dangers continue to grow, the imprisoned wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) learning that the powers of darkness he's feared are indeed rising again.

Freeman is no less wonderful of a presence as the smallest member of the crew holed up in the mountain kingdom of Erebor. However, Bilbo continues to become less and less important in the fate of everyone around him, occasionally worked into the action more as comic relief than anything else.

Having a character watching battlefield mayhem all around them and casually asking if it's a good place to stand is a cheap laugh at best and a waste of time no matter how you look at it.

Armitage struggles greatly as the avaricious leader of the dwarves, overcome with the greed that gripped his family in the past and paranoia that his throne might be taken away all over again. After all, friends come and go, but there's no replacing rocks and hunks of metal, right?

Speaking of those who don't seem like their old selves, the ever-intriguing McKellen has little to do in this segment with Gandalf weakened by his latest side adventure and relegated to mostly an observer status as some powerful allies (Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee) get him out of a tight spot.

Cumberbatch continues to be the deserved center of villainous attention as the rejuvenated, winged destroyer of everything good — who also talks himself up more than Muhammad Ali — as well as the Necromancer, a shadowy figure you may know by a different name.

But, that's a story for another time. Like 11 years ago.

It's official — the decision to make three films out of one book just doesn't work, at least the way Peter Jackson and company have split up the major plot points. It makes for an exhilarating start, but the quickness with which Smaug is dispatched is a real letdown, and it only drags more as things go forward.

In all fairness, it's at least partially the fault of the fans who wanted to see as many chapters as possible, and the studio certainly wasn't going to turn down the chance to make more money.

Somehow, the shortest entry in either of Jackson's two trilogies feels like the lengthiest, with an unbearable pacing of details of Tolkien's work that were never fully fleshed out in printed form. They don't feel like anything we need to see, especially entirely invented facets like the doomed dwarf-elf romance, a cameo by behemoths that look like they popped out of "Dune" and the result of Thorin's ongoing battle against the pale orc, Azog the Defiler (Manu Bennett).

As for Billy Connolly as the dwarf's distant cousin, Dáin, a hammer-wielding, brogue-voiced chieftain, whose choice of steed is an armored boar, well, sometimes the weirdest surprises are the best.

"The Battle of the Five Armies" may be the thinnest of all six of Jackson's movies and the portion of "The Hobbit" that tries and fails most in emulating "The Lord of the Rings.” But for all its weaknesses, it's still got glimmers of the magic that we saw a decade past.

Whether you truly think it's good, or if you're just sitting through it for the sake of closure, you have to admit the saga feels complete.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @TheBocksOffice.

If you go…

“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” rated PG-13

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

Running time: 144 minutes

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage and Benedict Cumberbatch

Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas and Craig’s West Theatre.