Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ★★★★


The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies immediately picks up from the last scene of The Desolution of Smaug, the second of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy and although we are not provided a quick 'Previously in The Hobbit…’ spiel to revive our memory we can recall a husky and villainous dragon, voiced over by a peculiarly sultry Benedict Cumberbatch, flying eagerly out of gold river of a mountain to burn down the innocent village of Lake Town.
It was only until the middle of 2012 that director Peter Jackson decided to convert his adaption of The Hobbit into a trilogy, as oppose to a two-film epic. Unless viewers are J.R.R. Tolkien enthusiasts and have read his fantasy novels many will not be aware that his original Hobbit story is based on one book, not three like The Lord of the Rings. Yet Jackson has somehow managed to stretch out millions of box office cash from Tolkein’s magical myth and legend of Middle Earth, which has kept fantasy fans only craving for more. He simply resorted to Tolkein’s extensive appendices, which was published in the back of The Return of the King – the final instalment of The Ring trilogy.          
So what can we expect from a film to end all epic films, or so we  - currently - believe? (Jackson is probably brainstorming new tales of Mordor as we speak.) The Battle of the Five Armies is a cinematically chromed action-packed film, of course! with handsome elves, viking dwarfs and the usual uglier orcs battling it out to a delightfully satisfying conclusion, which compels viewers to run home and re-live the film it was made to pre-empt, namely the first - The Fellowship of the Ring. I know this because I was one of those fanatics; I ran straight to HMV, after Hobbiting (a verb friends and I created to mean 'watching a Hobbit film') to grab the Lord of the Rings box set and instantly watch it.)    
The Bard, acted by Luke Evans, represents man, fatherhood and plain goodness whilst a slightly older looking Legolas (Orlando Bloom) stays true to his elfish bow and arrow talents and defends flawless skinned Turiel played by Evangeline Lilly who appears fresh faced as her decade-ago days on Lost. Bilbo Baggins by Martin Freeman is as vulnerable and secretive as he was in the last; yet although named after him, the film gives more screen time to Thorin Oakenshield played by Richard Armitage - the same lead actor of Arthur Miller’s classic American drama The Crucible showed this year at The Old Vic - the supposed King of the Dwarfs who loses his sanity to a  delusional illness otherwise known as dragon sickness. 
A tear may creep down your face when boy-dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner) dies in the arms of his lukewarm love Turiel and we see glimpses of the necromancer/dragon where Cumberbatch barely says ten words. But the real climax and scene we desperately seek are the ones where Galadriel, Elrond, Saruman and Gandalf unite to fight off a poorly CGI-ed version of Sauron, in my opinion. Cate Blanchette revisits her green-eyed monster from the first Ring movie to curse away evil and Saruman, as done by the I-don’t-do-film-with-cast-members-anymore Christopher Lee is portrayed as a goodie, before he turns into a baddie. And Hugo Weaving aka Mr. Smith, from the Matrix film, is a nice surprise feature too. Viewers also get a cameo cut of Billy Connelly as the ginger dwarf cousin, Ironfoot. And Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Grey is promising and legendary, as always.
Jackson ensures to add in as much ultra blatant and obvious references to the Lord of the Rings; yet as I'm privy to certain knowledge of Tolkien’s books and have already compared the film to the Fellowship of the Rings, I have noticed there are minor blips that do not connect the films smoothly unfortunately. Yet despite these blips and my petty anguish with some visual effects the film is am entertaining 144 minutes that deserves to be experienced on the big screen during the festive season.