Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

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Astounding

A gripping finale to The Hobbit series, arguably Peter Jackson's best work to date.

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The culmination of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy is the mind-blowing, CGI-packed and epic expected of the New Zealander. Featuring an all-star cast of some of Britain’s finest acting talent, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies sails through its 144 minutes running time with ease, to the point where the end scenes are just as unwanted as they are triumphant.

Picking up from where The Desolation of Smaug left off, the story is supremely better than that of the first film and is a thrilling finale to the second.  It packs a hard-hitting punch and does not feel like you have gone off for a stroll with Bilbo Baggins to the top of his garden as in An Unexpected Journey, it is more like you are about to come face to face with an orc – terrifying but equally thrilling.  Although staying predominantly in and around the surrounding area of Dale and the Lonely Mountain, events unfold at a rapid pace as leaders of different races realise what is possibly within their reach inside the mountain and flock to stake a claim.  Elves, dwarves, orcs and humans all have something that they want and Jackson has created something which shows how desperately they all desire it.

Richard Armitage’s portrayal of Thorin is particularly impressive, he shows the complexities of the character without difficulty. He can go from imposingly daunting to charming in a matter of seconds – for example Thorin’s interaction with Bilbo when accusing him of having the Arkenstone, with some clever cinematography from Jackson the viewer fears for Baggins’s life.  Lee Pace as the Elvenking Thranduil provides the film with some much needed elven sass, gliding about in beautifully crafted costumes which reflect the refined and serene nature of Tolkien’s elves.  In his quest to retrieve his much desired necklace from inside the Lonely Mountain, Thranduil becomes unusually likeable.  Even with his arrogant tendencies his alliance with Bard and the people of Lake-town bring a sense of humility and personality – so often lost when looking at the elves in their uniform battle positions and armour.

This film would be little without the ambitious battle scenes – the viewer is thrown straight into the midst of the action as orc, elf, dwarf and human all collide in conflict.  The CGI creation of the orc armies poses them as a formidable enemy due to their sheer size, a fact also apparent with the well put together forces of the elves who strike the viewer as a Romanesque army of perfected military tactics.  Jackson creates a battle in which you remain hooked due to the constant plethora of arrows and swords being wielded by passionate soldiers fighting until the death.  Throughout no clear victor is apparent and leaves the audience in suspense, finally culminating in a heroic clash between Thorin and Azog, The Battle of Five Armies does exactly what it says on the tin.

Overall The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies is a satisfyingly electric culmination of Jackson’s epic Middle-earth trilogy.  Never a dull moment, the viewer is catapulted straight into the action which does not cease for the whole entirety of the film.  With many moments of suspense and genuine feelings of anguish for the characters as some are lost and some brought to the brink of death, Jackson has played a blinder in creating audience emotion through faultless cinematography and impressive CGI – nothing less should be expected of the true ‘Lord of the Ring’.  All that is left to say is that this wraps up the trilogy beautifully and presents a seamless transition into the first The Lord of the Rings.  Jackson has achieved the goal of creating a satisfying prequel to the much-loved franchise and has ended it on an exquisitely crafted and action-packed high note.

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (2014), directed by Peter Jackson, is distributed in the UK by Warner Bros., Certificate 12A.

 

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