The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (3D / first-pass)
Cert: 12A / 144 mins / Dir. Peter Jackson
Picking up right where The Desolation Of Smaug leaves off, Peter Jackson's final installment of the Hobbit trilogy clocks in as the shortest of the set, at just under two and a quarter hours. Not that it feels it, necessarily. While it doesn't dawdle the way its predecessors did, there are still some pacing issues, although at this point in the story all that matters is reaching the ends of the various threads which are being spun. In this respect, the film succeeds fairly well (although I am a casual fan at best, so I'd be hard pushed to go toe-to-toe with any disagreeing Tolkenists).
The bottom line is that if you've been on-board for the ride so far, you've already weathered the worst that this adaptation of the story has to offer, and The Battle Of The Five Armies has all of its prep-work done for it by 'Journey' and 'Desolation'*1. What follows then, is the resolution of the 'what have we done?' cliffhanger from the previous film, leading into the titular Battle. Once the plot turns to Thorin Oakenshield, holed up in his castle and going nuts over the Arkenstone, the lion's share of the action is brought to him, although we do occasionally cut to other locations for a bit of alternate-rumble relief (and can I say how great it is to see Christopher Lee's Saruman kicking off properly? Yes. Yes, I can). There are frowns, there are laughs, there are roars and there are tears. And in the case of Thorin himself, there's a decent performance from Richard Armitage as he seems to do action far better than he does brooding melodrama*1
Martin Freeman seems to have less to do in this film (which, considering the over-arcing title…), but he's clearly settled into the role by this point, and his own resolution scenes at the end of the film play nicely. Which is just as well, because once again Peter Jackson doesn't want to let you off the rollercoaster when the ride stops, and there's A Very Gradual Wind-Down™ before the credits hit the screen. It's not in the same league as Return Of The King, but again you can feel the reluctance to admit that the story is done.
There's still much to point-and-laugh at, of course. Orlando Bloom appears to be almost entirely animated in this episode, such is the strain of the effects department to keep Legolas at the same age. Meanwhile, Armitage's accent is worn out from its constant commuting between Huddersfield and London. Stephen Fry's 'Master' seems determined to turn the film's early Laketown sequence into a full-on pantomime, and this mantle is gamely picked up by Ryan Gage as his lieutenant Alfrid in his scenes which follow, hamming things up like a budget Russell Brand. Oh, and a cross-eyed Radagast is just as hilarious as he was in the preceding two films, I kid you not.
A satisfying end to a trilogy which has taken far too long to reach its conclusion, then suddenly realised that what it owes its audience is a good old fashioned massive punch-up. And the middle 80 minutes of the film is just that ruck, but it's the one you've been waiting six hours for, so you can't really complain…
Pretty much, although some of the moments had me rolling my eyes.
I think it actually does.
If you've seen the other two at the flicks, you'll want to see this one big as well.
Although obviously the 3D is neither here nor there, as usual.
I will, but I'm not sure it'll be at the cinema.
Y'know what? The middle-section of this film is basically carnage, so I'm not all together sure. If it's in there, it's certainly not as prominent as the one in An Unexpected Journey.
…I'm not the only one who thinks Dark-Galadriel is hot, am I? Like, hotter than Light-Galadriel?
*1 By which I mean the previous films, not the bands Journey and Desolation. Obviously.
*2 Although whatever Armitage does in these films, it's still way better than watching him driving around tornados. Then again, Actually Being In A Tornado is better than watching Richard Armitage driving around tornados…
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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