Sunday, December 21, 2014

Movie Review ... The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies


The-Hobbit-The-Battle-Of-The-Five-Armies-posterMuch has been made of director Peter Jackson’s decision to film J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ book over three movies.  The story only lent itself to just one with many criticising this extension as a cynical studio money-grab.  Whilst that notion is partially true, it ignores that the Hobbit movies have successfully captured the essence of Tolkien’s work.  The final instalment in the trilogy ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies’ does a great job in closing the Middle Earth chapter begun in 2001’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ extravaganza.

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is in a world of trouble.  Attempting to free a kingdom trapped in the clutches of Smaug the Dragon, he watches helplessly as it goes on a path of destruction.  Helped by wise wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and dwarf leader Thorin (Richard Armitage), Bilbo tries to face his fears and rid his land of tyranny in a final, desperate battle.

‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ thrives on sheer scale.  A true epic with some brilliantly realised battle sequences, as an action fantasy event, it is hard to beat.  Jackson immerses himself with gusto into Middle-Earth’s adventures with the different characters combining to make a fascinating whole.  Whether they are hobbits, orcs or dwarves, you care about their actions – something many fantasy film writers forget to do.  Whilst the admittedly threadbare story mostly takes a back-seat to the spectacle, there’s enough to maintain interest.

A technical achievement on a grand canvas, ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ is visually arresting.  Those seeing it in the much publicised higher frame-rate may find the picture quality off-putting.  Although distracting, it doesn’t dilute the power of the amazing CGI.  The creativity gone into conjuring Tolkien’s world is inspiring and is aided by the ever lush New Zealand locations.  All are served by the fine performances with the mix of drama and humour revealing Jackson’s determination to have fun in his last sojourn in Hobbit territory.

There’s a sense Jackson didn’t want the franchise to end with ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ providing a strong final coda.  He should be content his creative legacy will forever shine with the Lord of the Rings films a bench-mark for others to follow.

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Movie Review Rating out of 10:  7

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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