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"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies": The Continuing History of Middle Earth, Told Practically in Real Time 

Tuesday, Dec 16 2014
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Not since Snakes on a Plane has a movie's title been so direct: Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is just that, though considering the reduced role of Bilbo (Martin Freeman), a more strictly accurate title would be Five Armies Battle, and Also There's a Hobbit. This is the shortest of Jackson's six J.R.R. Tolkien films, and even then it's overlong, stretching 60 minutes of story out to 144 minutes. That's been the problem with this whole series, of course; it exists to provide big CGI spectacle, much of which is reduced to a murky eyesore by the 3D. (I didn't see it in High Frame Rate, but yikes, I can imagine.) The most interesting parts of The Battle of the Five Armies wind up being table-setting for The Lord of the Rings (hi, Galadriel!), if only because like the similar scenes in Revenge of the Sith, they evoke much better movies. Considering the many fan edits of Star Wars prequels, here's to hoping someone whittles The Hobbit series down into a proper movie — and they can start with the initially promising subplot about women taking up arms and joining the battle, which instead becomes an extended cross-dressing joke, complete with a "your slip is showing" gag. Boo, Peter Jackson.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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