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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Blu-Ray Review
Adapted from the much-loved books from J. R. R. Tolkien, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy was a huge powerhouse at the box office. Telling a thrilling adventure of hobbits, elves, orcs and wizards, Jackson captured the imaginations of billions around the world casting an unforgettable spell on everyone. Due to the phenomenal success of the franchise it became a certainty that the famous prequel The Hobbit should also be adapted for the big screen but was it what the fans wanted?
Bringing the second trilogy to an end and picking up right where The Desolation of Smaug ended, the vicious dragon Smaug (Voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) leaves the Lonely Mountain, the people of Lake-town see a threat coming. Orcs, dwarves, elves and people prepare for war. Meanwhile, Bilbo (Martin Freeman) sees Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) going mad and tries to help. Meanwhile, Gandalf (Ian McKellen) is rescued from the Necromancer’s prison and his rescuers realize who the Necromancer is.
Bringing the epic saga to a close, The Battle of the Five Armies is a jam-packed ending to what has been a very problematic franchise. Just like The Lord of the Rings franchise before it, The Hobbit suffers because of the number of sub-plots that have been weaved into the storyline. This may thrill fantasy fans but for people like me who wouldn’t usually trudge these grounds it felt like there was just too much going on to fully appreciate or enjoy.
Admittedly I have not read the source material but considering how much fun I had watching The Desolation of Smaug, I was excited to watch The Battle of the Five Armies. At first I was heavily impressed with the film’s amazing opening where the evil dragon Smaug destroys a defenseless village but as soon as that scene was over my excitement begun to fade. Despite its subtitle The Battle of the Five Armies I felt this installment was severely lacking in almost every area.
Sadly after a phenomenal opening the film slows down to a snail pace in anticipation of a big battle scene as the tension grows. This is where the film begins to fall apart. In an attempt to fill the space between the first and final act of the film Jackson seemingly attempts to shoehorn more depth and emotional value to his characters. Some moments are touching and know how to pull on the old heart strings but other moments (like any scene involving Ryan Gage’s pantomime baddie Alfrid) fall quickly off the mark and seem childish if not completely laughable.
This said the cast really help to elevate the material as everyone involved deliver fantastic performances. Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett and Evangine Lilly are fantastic at what they do and they all shine on screen. By far my favourite performance in this film comes from Richard Armitage whose performance as Thorin becomes a fascinating decent into madness powered by greed.
Overall, I was left disappointed by The Battle of the Five Armies. It was on par with the first installment but nowhere near as entertaining as The Desolation of Smaug. A seemingly weak final chapter for what could have been another fantastic trilogy under Jackson’s wing.
The stunning five-disc extended edition of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is available now packed with eleven hours of special features including a feature commentary with the filmmakers.
Other extras include:
- The Appendices Part 11: The Gathering Storm
Learn what it was really like to be on set with stories from the cast and crew as they share their most essential, memorable and entertaining moments from production, and see stunts and effects in action as they’re filmed.
- The Appendices Part 12: Here At Journey’s End
Plan alongside the filmmakers as they create on of the most complex cinematic battles ever filmed. Watch how makeup, hair, prosthetics, costumes and weapons come together to form new characters, and explore key realms. Then join the filmmakers as they bid an emotional farewell to Middle-earth.
- New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth – Part 3