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1st January 2015

Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies

Luke Sharma thinks the Battle of the Five Armies, while full of unnecessary CGI and redundant plot points, is as good an ending to the Hobbit trilogy as Peter Jackson could have produced

After what seems like a lifetime, the time has finally come for Sir Peter Jackson to close the book on his trilogy of adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy book, The Hobbit. Following the Lord of the Rings, I had been slightly disappointed with The Hobbit trilogy up to this point, but it did mark the end of ‘Middle-Earth in cinema’. So naturally, I hauled myself to the Printworks at midnight on the 11th/12th December to catch the first public viewing.

To put it simply, this movie is exactly what it says on the tin. Forget about the two-film buildup to Smaug, forget the ‘journey’ and forget the quest, this movie is all about a battle (between five armies, no less). To be frank, it’s a bit of a risky move from Peter Jackson, since he really moved away from the source material and took almost complete control of the plot.

My biggest criticism of this series is that there is too much CGI compared to the incredible practical effects used in the Lord of the Rings. This instalment is no different. CGI is once again heavily abused, and the result isn’t anywhere near as pretty as the sequel trilogy. To be fair, the cinematography is absolutely astounding, but there are certain parts (like the ghosts in Dol Guldur) where the CGI is horribly overdone and atrocious. It’s laughably bad and looks like a Disneyland ride. Regardless of the CGI pitfalls however, the film in itself is far superior to the other two in the series.

We see characters developed hugely since the last two films. This is a real boost compared to the other two, which were extremely similar with both following the same formula, with Bilbo (Martin Freeman) just being awkward and out of place, and Thorin (Richard Armitage) being a brooding Byronic hero. Bilbo has moved away from being a wimp (thank God!) and has turned into kind of a badass and Thorin goes through various transitions throughout the film, from hero to tyrant and back. He even briefly becomes an antagonist.

A slight criticism I have of this film is that, although the character proved extremely popular in the previous film, there is just too much emphasis on Legolas (Orlando Bloom) is. Although the parts featuring the elf tend to be enjoyable, well orchestrated and cleverly put together, the bottom line is that Legolas did not feature in the source material. So giving such an important role to a character non-existent in Tolkien’s original novel just seems like a bit of a bastardisation of the original genius.

The plot however, was the saving grace of this film. There was a lot of action and battle scenes, which the series was sorely, sorely missing and because of this it tied the whole trilogy together. I feel that had Jackson released yet another bland, boring CGI-fest like the previous two, the series as a whole would not feel complete. It was dark and harrowing, once again a complete contrast to the rest of the series. This is why I think it’s superior to its counterparts; it was (although far from a perfect film) as perfect a conclusion as possible to the trilogy.

Throughout the production of the trilogy, people have been questioning whether Sir Peter Jackson could pull three movies from such a short book. After the first two were released, I can’t deny he had me doubting his sanity, but yet again his genius has shone through and he has ended the trilogy as well as it could possibly be done.

Rating 3/5

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