The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies opens where The Desolation of Smaug left off, as the powerful dragon of the Lonely Mountain (still voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) descends on Lake-town for payback. To say that Peter Jackson captures the full horror and insanity of a dragon attack on a compact and inclosed area is something of an understatement, and you practically feel the pain and panic as Smaug’s attack lights up the entire town in seconds and doesn’t let up. But then, Bard (Luke Evans) heroically slays the dragon using the final black arrow, and Smaug is defeated. Ten minutes into the movie.
Pacing has always been a problem for The Hobbit movies, as you can well imagine if you’re creating an expansive seven-and-a-half hour movie trilogy based on a single 300-page book and some supplementary material. The previous film ended with a powerful “Oh $#!%” moment went Smaug leaves Bilbo (Martin Freeman) in the mountain to attack the people of Lake-town in retaliation for them giving aid to the Company of 13 Dwarves and their quest to take back Erebor. Dramatically, it was sound, but to use a comparison to The Lord of the Rings it would be as if The Two Towers were to end right before Aragorn and the others at Helms Deep ride out to meet the Orcs in battle for a last stand. It’s evidence of the fact that while Jackson has grown to handle well the overwhelming technical demands of the project, he’s lost sight of the best way to tell the story he wants to tell. (more…)