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Review - The Hobbit - The Battle of the Five Armies

By midlandsmovies, Dec 14 2014 09:15AM

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) Dir. Peter Jackson

With a title like that it is clear where Jackson was going in this third and final frustrating prequel adapted from J. R. R. Tolkien’s slim book of the same name. Before we go back again, we started with An Unexpected Journey whose dwarf-singing, cutlery throwing antics were mostly a large misfire for me before the sequel (The Desolation of Smaug) found another gear in which the Cumberbatch voiced dragon was more than a fine spectacle.


This third act opens where we left off with Smaug attacking Lake Town which was an exciting but too brief intro and why Jackson didn’t end on the *SPOILER* killing of the dragon for part 2 shows how thin he stretched the tiny novel. Once the dwarves return to Erebor, they fortify themselves within its mountainous walls, which then sets up the mother of all scraps. And therein lies the problem. The vision is exciting and as bombastic as any film-battle depicted on screen but the casualty is any meaningful engagement with the people conducting it.


We move away from Bilbo and focus on Thorin’s downfall as a man obsessed by gold, poisoning him (much like the Ring) which means we lose focus of the hobbit’s journey. Thrown away is the character development of LOTR and we are simply given a second helping of the Minas Tirith battle which like The Fast Show’s “The Long Big Punch Up” sketch, goes on for exactly forever.


That said, the fight is undeniably thrilling. The 3D combined with Jackson’s swinging camera (perhaps too much swinging) was electrifying as we got orcs, elves, humans, dwarves and *ahem* eagles clashing in a brawl that contains fist fights, sword skirmishes, axe-swinging and pig-riding. An always acrobatic Legolas jumps and leaps in a particularly well executed bridge falling-apart scene whilst an earlier appendix-filling sequence in which 3 older characters fight early incarnations of the Nazgul was a joy for fans of the previous trilogy. In a flurry of special effects the 48fps was a little weird at first but I thought it gave the film a distinguishing style and was a risk worth taking in a film with little narrative risk elsewhere. And the CGI? Oh the CGI. Sometimes amazing (Azog was all but real) and sometimes frustrating (Billy Connolly voiced Dain Ironfoot was rendered completely in CGI for no reason whatsoever) audiences will either go along with the visual eye-candy or rebel against it. In the main, this reviewer went with it.


In summary, a decent but dry ending leads up to the events which start the LOTR trilogy and with the Tolkien estate refusing to authorise further adaptations I hope we can leave Middle Earth with the memory of one exceptional trilogy and one reasonable one.


7/10 Midlands Movies Mike

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