The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Blu-ray Review

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

With one final squeeze of the teat, JRR Tolkien’s middle-earth legacy is completely milked dry.

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies extended edition sees the cinematic climax of a trilogy which has taken Hollywood’s recent trend to generate multiple films from one book, and brought it to a shameless, new level.

The makers of the Mockingbird, Twilight and Potter franchises are surely now shaking their heads in a mixture of envy and admiration.

The film opens with the scene which should have arguably closed the last instalment: an airborne assault on Laketown by one very peeved dragon.

It all looks impressive and well shot, though our titular hero is generally sidelined during this particular sequence.

And, incidentally, for most of the rest of the film.

Bilbo (Martin Freeman) watches the Laketown attack from afar, leaving the heroics to Luke Evans’ Bard. Meanwhile, dwarf leader Thorin turns his attention to the riches within the mountain.

Thorin and his dwarf dozen, only several of which have been adequately fleshed out as characters, subsequently hole themselves up in the now-not-quite-so-Lonely Mountain and basically adopt a ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’ stance towards the rest of Middle Earth and its gold-hungry inhabitants.

Said inhabitants include elves, orcs, eagles and goblins.

The usual suspects.

The dwarves are swiftly aided by reinforcement troops led by a CGI version of Billy Connolly on a pig.

Which is actually more impressive than it sounds.

All of the above is interspersed with some hokum involving Gandalf, some ghosts and that bloke from the last movie who is covered in bird poo.

Then there is an hour or so of general bickering from various creatures about the ownership of the mountain’s glittering contents.

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Of course, this is all just foreplay to a vast, multi-layered battle which Peter Jackson and his visual effects team will be treating as their Middle Earth swansong.

As a director, Jackson obviously knows what he is doing and quickly graduates from the obligatory initial barrage of CGI-warfare-heavy wide shots to some one-on-one battles involving the main characters.

He also injects some emotional pangs by way of some unexpected tragedies along the way.

But overall the film is sorely lacking on several fronts.

For one, this outing achieves nowhere near the same level of grandeur as Return of the King. And if the filmmakers were trying to avoid comparisons with the earlier trilogy, then perhaps it would have

been wise to avoid unnecessary cameos from the likes of Orlando Bloom and Cate Blanchett, amongst others.

The lack of fidelity to the source material is also disappointing, if not inevitable when trying to adapt a two-and-a-half hour film from a handful of pages of text.

The last grumble is the under-utilisation of Martin Freeman. Richard Armitage, as Thorin, and Luke Evans take the more central roles this time around, with Freeman’s Bilbo reduced to a mere chronicler of the events which unfold.

Die-hard fans of the Tolkien movieverse may enjoy the film, but otherwise this last outing to Middle Earth is largely a disposable one.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

November 2015