We are all complicit. You don’t make $250 million films without a script if you lack confidence in people watching it. There’s not been such a waste of money since the North Korean space project. But at least that played for laughs. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies makes Michael Bay’s Transformers, which itself felt like someone throwing lit-petrol in your eyes for 2 ½ hours, look like the hushed whispers of twitchers in a bird hide
Peter Jackson actually deserves an Oscar, for making the most boring film of all time, although I’ve not seen Andy Warhol’s 8-hour Empire featuring the Empire state building in slo-mo. Mind you, he was aiming to make an unwatchable film; unless the concluding Hobbit film is the greatest prank ever, Peter Jackson achieved this without even trying.
The KLF got flack for burning a million quid, but at least it had artistic integrity; at least it was an answer that demanded questions. Five Armies only asks questions without answers. The most pertinent is WHY? I would have preferred to watch smouldering £50 notes on a campfire, as the Last train to Trancentral shuddered to final rest in a damp farmhouse on the island of Jura; for one thing it’s nearer Middle Earth.
I’ve no problem with big films, but the most memorable thing about the Avengers for example, wasn’t the predictable CGI showdown, but the sharp script. Peter Jackson’s script for Five Armies is basically:
Dwarves peer over a wall, a peaceful hobbit somehow escapes, four armies turn up via big earth worms without anyone asking where the fifth one is, and proceed to hack the hell out of each other under the presumption that a) we care b) we know why. Billy Connolly then turns in a hammy performance only outdone by the giant pig he’s riding. There’s a cursory love story with all the frisson of canal root dentistry, while Stephen Fry acts as overwhelmed as the audience feels. The only comic relief, which might shake Connolly’s confidence, is a troll knocking itself out on a wall, neatly encapsulating how watching this film felt, only without the peaceful oblivion of unconsciousness.
The rot had set in with its predecessor, a watchable film were it not for Orcs’ inability to hit metal barn doors if their arrows were magnetic. All they successfully destroyed was dramatic tension. How 200 orcs failed to hit a single dwarf as they leaped from barrel to barrel on river rapids like an advanced level of Marioland is beyond belief. Presumably, at the very least, the Orc Quartermaster and archery instructors lost their jobs.
After an ill-justified 3 hours of Five Armies, even the CGI begins to look bewildered, hoping its creators might take a lunch break. And as the ‘story’ peters out in a peaceful dell, the audience released a collective sigh, presumably before leaving for the box-office to request a refund. It was a sad conclusion to an increasingly tired series of films. The single good thing about Five Armies is that unless Jackson is willing to dramatise the middle earth encyclopedia Silmarillion, it’s the last one.