THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES
Genre: Fantasy action adventure
Running Time: 144 mins.
Premise: Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) concludes his "unexpected journey" with a battle royale. As dwarf Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) wrestles with dragon sickness, the Orc army led by Azog closes in on the Lonely Mountain, and armies of men, elves, and dwarves must fight them off.
Behind-the-Scenes: Billed as "The Defining Chapter" of The Hobbit, this marks the end of Peter Jackson's Middle Earth saga, which he kicked off 13 years ago with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Battle of the Five Armies is the shortest of all of Jackson's Tolkien adaptations.
The Good: Nobody does epic scale with astonishing visuals quite like Peter Jackson. The movie picks up right where last year's Desolation of Smaug left off, and it's a whiz-bang opening. If The Hobbit movies have done nothing else right, it's the dragon Smaug. Just a fantastic character, beautifully realized by the visual effects artists at WETA and voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. The final hour of the movie really does earn its title, in what amounts to an exciting, frantic, all-or-nothing battle, with a handful of character deaths that sneak up on your emotions. Evangeline Lilly is a welcome female presence again as the elf, Tauriel, and Orlando Bloom (back as Legolas) has a pretty nifty action sequence involving crumbling stairs.
The Bad: I've enjoyed the length of these Hobbit movies more than most, but Battle of the Five Armies for all its visual ingenuity feels like an afterthought. It's a forty-five minute conclusion to the last movie, beefed up to 2.5 hours. The wise move would have been to make two movies instead of three. Too much time is spent on Thorin's dragon sickness, and on supporting characters like Laketown's weaselly Alfrid (Ryan Gage), an unfunny character who's used constantly for comedic relief. An extended sequence with Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, and Cate Blanchett feels like a forced tie-in to The Lord of the Rings, and should have been saved for the Extended Edition on Blu-ray.
Should You See It?: Yes, if you've made it this far, you'll still enjoy the majority of Battle of the Five Armies. That being said, I think it's the least successful Hobbit film of the three (Desolation of Smaug is by and far my favorite), which, by extension, makes it the worst film in Peter Jackson's Middle Earth saga.
Boy-Child's (Age 6.5) Verdict : "I don't like this one as much as the others. It's too boring." - said before the Battle started.
Star Rating: *** out of 5 stars.
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