12:19 a.m. After a particularly long set of previews that seem to be actively trying to delay the inevitable, The Hobbit’s 10 minute parade of logos begins. The Battle of Five Armies picks up right where Desolation of Smaug left off — just before it was going to actually show the desolation of Smaug. The dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch), in his weak-ass wyvern rendering meant to draw in the Game of Thrones crowd, delays for another few moments of CGI aerobatics before finally settling in for his attack run.
12:23 a.m. Having been given ample warning of the dragon’s coming because he circled the city several times like an idiot, the Master of Laketown (Stephen Fry), also known as the third coming of Jar-Jar Binks, makes off with all the gold. Our hero, Bard (Luke Evans), left imprisoned during the cliffhanger, conjures a gigantic rope out of his prison cell, the kind of thing that makes you stop and wonder why it only takes up one slot in your inventory, and, in the kind of showy display of tying and throwing accuracy and rope materialization that Tolkien never, ever would have written, wrangles the master from behind bars and uses him to break free, a moment of poetic justice not just within the plot, but for viewers, as it seems they are momentarily free of the porky, forced comic relief.
1:40 a.m. After several minutes of strafing, Smaug lands to have a personal interaction with Bard, who has climbed the bell tower to take the dragon down, out of respect for Bard’s irresistible Main Character Powers. Smaug taunts the archer, mocking him for the bow which, as Smaug can see from halfway across the ruined city, is broken. However, his plot-driven telescopic vision fails him when Bard turns the broken pieces, the bell tower itself and his own inexplicably present son into a makeshift weapon of even greater power and accuracy than the original bow. In yet another indulgent, kitschy display of McGiverism that would have Tolkien spinning in his grave, Bard slays the proud dragon with the improvised weapon.
2:21 a.m. After a few shots of Gandalf (Ian McKellan) in a weak-ass cage and Kili (Aidan Turner) staring deep into the eyes of the Made-up Sexual Tension Elf (Evanegline Lilly), we return to scenes that are not labeled “Previously on The Hobbit.” This first progression scene in 40 minutes is to introduce the fourth coming of Jar-Jar Binks, Alfrid of the Poorly Drawn Monobrow (Ryan Gage), the Laketown master’s old sidekick. Despite being based on characters never mentioned by name in the book, Monobrow Binks played a major role in Bard’s capture, which also never happened in the book, and the negotiation of Laketown getting a share of Erebor’s treasure, which also never happened in the book, and will proceed to play a major role in this film doing nothing either important or interesting or even remotely related to the source material.
3:22 a.m. The film finally cuts back to Gandalf in a scene that isn’t just to remind us that he’s there. In another masturbatory sequence of reverence toward the not-even 20 year old Lord of the Rings movies, Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and Saruman (Christopher Lee) show up to bust Galdalf out of his bonds. There is a recitation of the One Ring’s poem, and Ringwraiths show up to complete the circlejerk of nostalgia. Elrond and Saruman start doing ninja stuff because I guess that’s a popular fan fic. Defeated, the Nazgûl die in a blaze of 1970s special effects. Gandalf dies, for some reason, but Galadriel revives him with True Love’s Kiss, also probably a very popular fan fic, and then she goes all Grudge and wins a gibberish contest with Sauron (also Benedict Cumberbatch), casting him away. The second coming of Jar-Jar Binks, Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy) and his super-rabbit bobsled, having still not cleaned the birdshit off his face, makes yet another appearance to take the resuscitated Gandalf to safety.
5:13 a.m. Finally, we get our first shot of the eponymous hobbit. Thorin
Aragornsurrogate Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), having taken back his mountain, has come down with the greed and refuses to share his gold with the men of Laketown, who to be fair totally didn’t help win it back. Apparently, gold has the exact same effect as The One Ring in this film, with the whispery voices in strange languages and utter physical transformation of the character. While it has this effect on real people and had a similar effect on Thorin in the book, it does cheapen the drama and heartbreak of Gollum’s battle with addiction in the previous trilogy.
8:37 a.m. In another shot that’s just to remind you he’s there, Gandalf dramatically rides toward Erebor on a Coors Light pony. His whistling is presumably off after the traumatic imprisonment that he could have busted out of at any time.
9:18 a.m. Not to be outdone, Jareth from Labyrinth
(Lee Pace) rides into Dale on a fucking elk.
1:26 p.m. Bard negotiates with Aragornsurrogate on Jareth’s behalf. The surrogate is a stubborn little ruffian, who clearly won’t relent while he and his friends still have their intricately styled hair. Legolas, better known by his Round Table name Sir Appearing-In-This-Film (Orlando Bloom), and the Sexual Tension Elf, despite having only a morning in movie time and not having mounts because they are total noobs, have gone north to Orgrimmar to tease the orcish army which will eventually be participating in some kind of battle, assuming this isn’t like part 2 in which the titular payoff was after a year-long cliffhanger. They find a swarm of bats that have been Bred for War, just like every other damn thing in this movie.
7:04 p.m. Gandalf, too, arrives at Dale. Though disarmed during his imprisonment, the wizard suddenly has a new staff because of his magic power to materialize intricately shaped wood. Clearly, this is a character not to be trifled with, a sage who always has a plan, a man who has never faced the horror and embarrassment of erectile dysfunction.
10:07 p.m. The battle has still not started, and there is palpable fear in the audience that a fourth movie will be announced after 30-40 minutes of credits. Hunger and weariness are now greater armies for viewers than anything depicted onscreen. In what has clearly become a World of Warcraft-esque mount-off, Dain II Ironfoot (Billy Connolly) shows up on an armored sow.
2:52 a.m. 12/18 Though only dawn has broken over
Azeroth Middle-Earth, the real world has completed one rotation and started another. Kratos Bladefist (Manu Bennett) has shown up, and though he is without a mount because he is clearly too poor, his arrival officially signals the point at which this adaptation of Tolkien’s legendarium becomes more reminiscent of the World of Warcraft. The orc has gigantic pre-prepared flag towers that could only have been summoned in that amount of time with a quest item, which he uses to command creatures that too closely resemble gronn to be a coincidence. The Battle of Five Armies is finally underway.
2:08 p.m. 12/18 Several hours of what looks like the exact same footage has passed. The orcs fall like dominoes, but major characters insist they are being overrun. For the most part, the monotony is only broken by garish wheelbarrow sequences that Tolkien never ever would have written and poorly placed cross-dressing comedy with Monobrow Binks.
7:12 p.m. 12/18 Thorin has another Ring-like episode with evil, whispering voices, because that’s yet another category of extremely distinct, formerly unique and special sequence that Jackson and company cannot make even a single movie without revisiting with almost no changes. Afterward, the 13 dwarves and their perfectly braided wigs finally join the battle.
3:33 a.m. 12/19 Sleep had taken me for a few hours, but it seems like nothing important happened. They’re still just showing more, more and yet more footage of dwarves and elves killing orcs by the dozen almost accidentally.
Unknown, 12/19? My phone, my only timepiece, died in another session of sleep. I now have no way of knowing how long I have been here, only that I have not eaten or drank anything for days, and I fear for my health should I see this film through. Many in the audience have also succumbed to sleep, and may not make it through this cinematic war of attrition Jackson is waging.
Despite not being present for the majority of the picture to this point, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) has showed up with Thorin and company to take the cake in the arena of ridiculous orc killing. Baggins has found a pile of small rocks, and he is throwing them at a seething mass of oncoming orcs. Every rock is hitting a monster square between the eyes, killing it instantly. Every single one.
Thorin and Kratos’ individual combat has moved to the ice patch from Batman Begins. Thorin began the combat parrying Kratos’ mace like it was a sword because this fight, like every other one in the series, has to look like a lightsaber duel despite the actual weapons not even looking like they could work that way. At least Jackson has graduated, at this point, to ripping off other filmmakers and not himself.
It must be the 20th now. Kili and the Sexual Tension Elf, reunited in combat, are fighting Bolg (John Tui), the only other orc in existence who seems capable of surviving more than a moment or two of screen time. They have, for what feels like a couple of hours, been taking turns jumping on his sword arm to save each other at the last second of a long, music-building delay. There hasn’t been any dialogue outside of characters calling each other’s names for several hours now.
Legolas eventually takes over the battle with Bolg, and spends just as much time as Kili and the Sexual Tension Elf did hopping around before killing him in supposedly impressive fashion. It would have been much more impressive if he’d killed Bolg in a second without really trying, like he does with everything else in these movies.
Dusk has still not fallen onscreen. Hygene, along with hunger, has begun to become a major issue among what remains of the audience. Finally, the eagles, the ridiculous eagles that could have solved every problem these characters ever had, come in to save the three fairer armies from the orcs that never seemed to stand a fighting chance anyway.
The battle’s aftermath is a hazy blur, as hunger has started to affect my senses. Jareth sends Legolas off to meet Strider, because an overt Aragorn surrogate isn’t enough. He then wins a name-that-’80s-romcom competition with the Sexual Tension Elf, comforting her over her fallen boo. Gandalf gives stern warnings to the surviving leaders of about overcoming minor racial differences so that they can exterminate the orcs because of their major racial differences. Bilbo goes home and evolves into Ian Holm.
I emerge from the theater, liberated, to learn that it is still the 19th — the movie just felt a little longer than it was — relieved in the knowledge that it will be at least another five years before Jackson milks another several days of movie from an even less appropriate part of Tolkien’s work.