The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Film Review by Josh Slater-Williams | 10 Dec 2014
Film title: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Director: Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Ryan Gage, Aidan Turner, Dean O'Gorman, Billy Connolly, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, Graham McTavish, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Stephen Fry, Sylvester McCoy, Ian Holm
Release date: 12 Dec
Certificate: 12A

What began with An Unexpected Journey ends in an altogether expected fashion, as Peter Jackson wraps up his frequently misguided three-part adaptation of The Hobbit with basically no (pleasant) surprises and most of the same weaknesses that plagued both ...Journey and The Desolation of Smaug. There is a smattering of fantasy fun amid the po-faced gloom, though. On a minute-by-minute basis, The Battle of the Five Armies – by far the shortest of Jackson's Middle Earth films – is the most solid entry of this prequel trilogy.

When you throw every dollar, dwarf, and pig-riding Billy Connolly at the wall, some of it is bound to stick (the CGI acrobatics of pretty-boy archer Legolas, however, are rotten and always have been). Still, one particular ominous line in the film sticks out as relevant to Jackson’s erratic cinematic venture: “Don’t underestimate the evil of gold”. Three films rather than one may have brought in more cash, but the artistic justification has never made itself pronounced in the works themselves, and a rigorous shape to each chapter has been sorely lacking.

Like bland Bilbo, a passenger rather than a protagonist in his own film series, audiences have been herked and jerked around in favour of whatever tangent Jackson’s been especially preoccupied with; brace yourself for a lot of Ryan Gage’s comic relief coward in this one.

On the plus side, the post-credits sequence called The Lord of the Rings is really good.


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