THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES EXTENDED EDITION BLU-RAY REVIEW BY AMY BARKER...09:53:00
Good Morning Lovelies,
And I thought it was only fair that to celebrate this beauty, we brought back Amy and her amazing knowledge and review…
THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES REVIEW BY AMY BARKER...
I want to thank Joey for giving me the opportunity to get a first glimpse at this film and I hope you enjoy reading my guest review! I adore The Lord of the Rings trilogy (I have been known to cry solidly for the last half hour of the final film) and have equally adored The Hobbit trilogy. I (correctly) knew from the outset that there was no way I could not love this final instalment as I love all things Middle-Earth and quite honestly cannot get enough! Nonetheless, I will try and give you all a review with as little bias as I can manage!
No time is wasted and from the word go, we are plunged headfirst into an epic sequence of Smaug the dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch) reigning death and destruction over Lake Town. The intensity increases as Smaug’s fury is unleashed, with dizzying and complex visuals of fire and crumbling buildings. This was one of those sequences where you just don’t know where to look, creating an overwhelming sense of doom and chaos. Smaug was a magnificent creation of CGI, motion capture and voice-work, marvellous to watch on screen. It was definitely bittersweet to see him bow out of the film at such an early stage, but without a doubt, the way he did was spectacular.
After Smaug is killed, the film shifts to focus upon Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). After reclaiming Erebor, Thorin is spiralling into madness and paranoia as he succumbs to ‘dragon sickness’; an insatiable lust for gold. Consumed by madness in his search for the Arkenstone he drives away those closest to him, whilst barricading himself away from the desperate people of Lake-Town, who are seeking recompense for the destruction dealt to them by Smaug. As the woodland elves arrive, with Thranduil (Lee Pace) seeking treasures of his own, the conflict begins to escalate. Bilbo (Martin Freeman), who is concealing the stone from Thorin, is faced with a desperate choice as he strives to avoid any more conflict or death, whilst wanting to stay loyal to Thorin and save him from his madness. Meanwhile, the armies of Sauron (Benedict Cumberbatch) begin to amass and march upon Erebor. As a dwarfish army descends to support Thorin’s company, the great battle ensues, with an overwhelming sense of madness and futility.
A huge portion of the film is taken up by the battle itself. It never drags however and is enjoyable and exciting from start to finish. To create a battle sequence of such length that never runs dry is extremely impressive, with adrenaline levels remaining high the entire time. Although this is Middle-Earth where the normal rules of physics don’t always have to apply (which is fine with me!) Jackson at times does push the boundaries a bit too far, pulling you out of the drama with the inclusion of some sequences that are a bit too ridiculous even for Legolas to pull off. You will understand what I mean when you see it!
The film begins to transition into the darker tone that shadows The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Colours become bleak and greyed and the mood darker. The innocence that we began with in the first film is lost and a darker, bleaker atmosphere is set. First glimpses of the dark forces that we already know from The Lord of The Rings such as Minus Morgul and the nine Ring-Wraiths (or Nazgul) help drive the story in the direction of The Lord of the Rings. It was exciting to be given some of this backstory, although it did feel more out of place than it has done in previous films. Whilst I can’t ever argue with affording Hugo Weaving (Elrond) more screen time, and nor can I deny enjoying seeing Christopher Lee (Saruman) fight like a ninja, the scene where Sauron is banished to the east felt a bit forced. Likewise, a glimpse into Legolas’ backstory and relationship with his father, whilst interesting, felt unnecessary and detracted from the rest of the film. The aim for viewers to see this trilogy as a prequel became slightly too over exaggerated in this film.
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins trundles quietly along in this film, often subject to patronization from characters such as Gandalf and Thorin. Some have criticized the film for giving Bilbo a backseat role, with his part considerably diluted. This film suffers from sometimes blurring the line between whether Thorin or Bilbo is the main character in the film. However, I really think his makes Bilbo’s character all the more endearing. Throughout the films he is continually proving his worth by saving the day on many an occasion, yet is still met with condescension. This allows the strength and courage of his actions to really shine through and the sense created is that although he is very much a little person caught up in a world far, far bigger than himself, he is just as loyal and brave as any other. The subtleness and un-presuming nature of Bilbo’s character is what stands out the most for me. Freeman was always the perfect choice as Bilbo for me and I cannot fault his performance, complete with nose-twitching!
Jackson’s rather controversial inclusion of romance between the dwarf Kili (Aiden Turner) and the non-canonical elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) culminated in a particularly fitting way. I actually really enjoyed and understood the inclusion of this sub-plot and the way it played out was poignant and completely apt, if not what I had perhaps expected. Lilly’s performance was particularly strong and she has succeeded in creating a memorable character. In fact, the entire cast was just so solid and I can’t really imagine anyone else in any of the roles. Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) was a particular highlight for me, with Evans providing us with a well fleshed out character whose sufferings we can really empathise with. Lee Pace was also a highlight, creating a highly memorable character who we can begin to understand more and more as the plot progresses. Armitage is also brilliant, capturing Thorin’s dark and dangerously flawed character so that as an audience, As Thorin descends into madness, his previous flaws somewhat prevent us from having too much sympathy for him, but this however makes his transformation and redemption all the more powerful.
Thranduil astride his magnificent elk contrasted with the dwarf lord Dain (Billy Connolly), riding cheerfully into battle on a pig. This was a great moment providing some in battle comic relief. The array of creatures digitally created for the film really added to the magic that is so captivating about Middle-Earth. Smaug was the pinnacle creation, but the trolls, wargs, were-worms and mountain goats to name a few were equally integral to furthering our journey into the world. Howard Shore (who composed the score for The Lord of the Rings) has provided a score truly fitting of middle earth, with beautiful themes that are both unique for The Hobbit and also reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings. His music has always been significant in stirring my emotions during the films, and I was sure to stay the whole way through the credits so I could listen to more of his music!
Final thoughts? I honestly loved everything about this film and cannot wait to see it again and again! It is important to see The Hobbit trilogy as a prequel to the Lord of the Rings and not as a direct adaptation of the book that Tolkien intended as a children’s story. The use of material from the vastness of Tolkien’s world has been utilized by Jackson and his cast, creating a masterful telling of the events that occurred before The Lord of the Rings. Jackson has stated that this is his final goodbye to Middle-Earth… I am hoping this won’t be true!
I just wanted to say a huge thank you to Amy for this review because as I said above it is brilliant and puts some of mine to shame aha! I can now reveal that I have hired her as my Hobbit expert! You will hear more from her in the future about this I am sure!
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