Before I damage my nerd cred, I feel like I have to say straight-up that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of my favorite movies, hands down. In fact I even like the movies better than the books, which is probably because I rather notoriously don’t like doorstopper fantasy.
But the Hobbit movies? The Hobbit movies are delicious, unadulterated bullshit.
The film: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
The premise: RIGHT. So they took a children’s novella about a hobbit and a bunch of dwarves bumbling around pretending to have grand destinies, and they turned it into a three-part gritty epic fantasy film that takes itself basically 100% seriously, thereby rendering itself utterly comical. Of the three films, the last is by far the most hilarious, perhaps because it is the one that contains the most death, and death is always funny when it’s overplayed.
In the first two movies, we followed Bilbo and Gandalf and a bunch of barely distinguishable dwarf characters from the Shire to the misty mountains by way of various magic forest people, as well as Mirkwood, where they inadvertently pick up Legolas and Tauriel, and also Laketown, where everyone is poor and the mayor is evil. We often cut away from the narrative to watch pieces of the Silmarillion happening, but not in any way that makes sense, because apparently Gandalf sees no problem with waiting fifty in-world years between film franchises to do something about the evil he already knows is growing in the land. And then there’s a Benedict Cumberbatch dragon, and a ton of orcs, and it’s all very grand and non-sensical coming into the third movie, where everything hits peak nonsense because they’ve run out of logical plot points.
Honestly, though; the Hobbit is a very strange children’s book, where the happy bumbling adventure tale suddenly turns into an all-out bloody war, and the film did not navigate this shift well because it cannot be navigated well.
Why you should watch it: You don’t even have to watch the first two movies to enjoy the sheer, absurd ill-logic of the third one, because it doesn’t make sense no matter how much backstory you have. There’s weird subplots happening where Gandalf may or may not be drunk, Bilbo just sort of wanders around blinking really hard at everybody, Evangeline Lily looks like she REALLY WANTS TO KILL HERSELF every time she has to play Tauriel making goo-goo eyes at Kili, and then there’s the sheer delight that is Lee Pace swanning about as Thranduil in all his antlered party-king divalicious glory. And to top it all off, you’ve got Richard Armitage playing Thorin as full crazy, which apparently involves a lot of sweating and looking at things with his head tilted to one side. You get the feeling, watching this movie, that everyone on set knows that they’ve lost the magic, but dammit, they’re going to just keep going, because they are goddamn professionals. It is a thing of beauty.
The drinking game: Drink every time an elf appears. Twice if they do any emotionless staring.
Bonus: Drink every time Bilbo does nothing useful in a scene despite being the alleged protagonist.
Where it’s available: For rent on Amazon play.
Tauriel: Why does it hurt so much?
Thranduil: Because it was real.