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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - DVD Review

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

PETER Jackson finally delivers a Hobbit film worthy of the epic status of his Lord of the Rings trilogy. But while The Battle of The Five Armies is a suitably epic finale, it does little to enhance the memory of the two drawn out films that preceded it.

The final film is, at least, a sprint to the finish line that includes several notable battle scenes and a couple of great performances.

With regard to the latter point, Richard Armitage shines as Thorin Oakenshield, grappling with greed (having been seduced by Smaug the dragon’s gold) and his desire to do what’s right. His climactic scenes, in particular, are steeped in tragedy and serve to ensure that his journey arguably gets the franchise’s most satisfying arc.

But Martin Freeman is good too, even though his scenes as Bilbo are more limited here. Nevertheless, he bears the emotional weight of his own journey well while still managing to inject some nice moments of humour.

Jackson, for his part, stages some suitably rousing battle sequences, beginning with the destruction of Laketown by Smaug and culminating with a grand last stand between the dwarves and the orcs.

In between, there are even some enjoyable sequences involving the ever-reliable Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf and Orlando Bloom’s maverick Legolas, whose own story lays the groundwork for his journey in The Lord of the Rings.

As good as The Battle of the Five Armies is, however, it still offers unnecessary reminders of where this particular trilogy has failed, the most glaring of which comes in the treatment of it’s supporting players.

Having gone to great – or bum-numbing lengths to introduce the dwarves at the very start of An Unexpected Journey – Jackson loses track of most of them and it’s difficult to remember who is who a lot of the time, let alone care what happens to them. Given that the trilogy clocks in at a little over eight hours, it’s a big shortcoming and one that only makes the protracted nature of those first two chapters more unforgivable.

The story embellishments, such as the romance between Aidan Turner’s Kili and Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel, also continue to underwhelm and detract from the main event, while Jackson himself still doesn’t know how to deliver a tidy ending despite having delivered his shortest film in the series.

Hence, as good a climax as The Battle of the Five Armies is, it still exists in the shadow of its more illustrious predecessors. And taken as a whole, The Hobbit series has been marred by its director’s unchecked self-indulgence and a studio’s lust for profit.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 144mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: April 20, 2015