The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies is surprisingly competent in its pacing and successfully avoids the missteps of the second movie. While the movie is essentially one long action sequence, Jackson effectively turns the movie in to a series of action vignettes, each with their own escalation, climax, and relief. This results in no single action sequence overstaying its welcome and a movie which was elevated above my admittedly low expectations.
The Hobbit still has its share of problems. Some of the editing is jarring, especially within the first hour which covers the remainder of the content actually found in the book. There are a few questionable plot contrivances which left me scratching my head, including several attempts at jokes that fell completely flat. Yet over all it was not the terminal boredom inducing nightmare I had feared it would be.
A big part of the success of this movie beyond the competent pacing was the lack of any major character introductions. The movie spends most of its time ushering existing characters to their on screen finale. This gives the movie a tighter focus than the previous entries which all made a point of making ponderous character introductions or introductions that differ from the book, which often left this reader puzzled.
One surprising success of the movie was a character addition I initially took offense to. Thorin’s nemesis, Azog the Defiler, seemed like a completely unnecessary addition which did nothing to escalate the danger the company faced and seemed like a meaningless contrivance to “humanize” the goblin hordes by adding a recognizable personality to them. The addition of Azog is redeemed at his parting by achieving what the character had failed to do thus far. It took three movies, but Azog finally develops in to a competent villain whose inclusion felt necessary instead of contrived.