The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Film Review

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I will be the first to say that these are not my type of films. I watch them because I should rather than because I am genuinely excited for them. To prove my point: I watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time this year, and I only began The Hobbit prequels this week. However, I am surprised by how much I like them.

It picks up where Desolation of Smaug left off: the dragon has broken out of the Lonely Mountain and is on its way to destroy Laketown. Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) has reclaimed his kingdom but he now has dragon sickness – his greed over the gold has made him crazy and he is on the verge of killing members of the Company to locate the Arkenstone. That is not their only problem – both the people of Laketown (lead by Bard, played by Luke Evans) and the Woodland Elves (lead by Thranduil, played by Lee Pace) want their share of the riches inside the mountain and Oakenshield refuses to let a single gold coin leave this kingdom. War is imminent, and an army of Orcs are heading to Erebor to reclaim the mountain for themselves.

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This is epic in scale (of course) and some of the effects are breathtaking – especially when all the armies clash and you just know that there are probably only about 10-20 real people from each army and the rest are made on a computer. It is clever, but there are times when the CGI is terrible and I wanted to laugh. This seems to happen a lot with Legolas (Orlando Bloom), loads of his stunts look very unrealistic and he doesn’t even look like a real elf. It looks like something from a video game. The issue of OTT CGI has been at the forefront of my mind when I watch these movies. There are little things as well where it makes no sense – Billy Connolly’s character looks nothing like him, and when Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) uses a ton of power, she looks so unrealistic.

Thanks to Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf (Ian McKellen), we get some comedy relief. It is few and far between but he keeps the humanity in it because I sometimes worry that the human element of the movies gets lost in the vastness of the quest. Producers have obviously tried to get a love triangle going between Legolas, Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner) but it does feel tonally strange and shoved in for the sake of it.

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There are so many people to keep up with and I don’t think I’m totally down with the politics of Middle Earth, but it easy to follow on a basic level. There was also more death than I imagined, which was surprising (as I haven’t read the book). Some people around me cried but I am not invested any of the characters enough so I wasn’t emotional at all. The ending does line the themes and the character arcs very well for the Lord of the Rings though, so when people watch all six in the future, it will flow very well.

My complaint with the previous Hobbits were that they were so long and not much really happened, but that is not an issue here. It is the shortest of the trilogy and the most action-packed and the time zooms past. You are not aware of the duration at all. You would think this movie is all ‘battle’ but luckily it is not, because that would get incredibly boring. The numerous fight scenes are interesting and impressive and the epic one outside Erebor was so good – it reminded me of the Helms Deep battle.

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I have left feeling more positive about the series and I actually feel encouraged to watch Lord of the Rings again, which is something I never thought I would write. For people into the series, obviously seeing this is a no-brainer but I also want to encourage people to watch the trilogy with the knowledge that you get a great pay-off and it is all worth it in the end.

 

Released Friday 12th December 

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