Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

My first trip to the cinema this year and my last journey to Middle Earth. Peter Jackson's final installment of his Tolkien adaptations is a suitably epic finale which still finds the time for the small moments. As in the last movie we crash straight into the action with no time for a catch up  -  Thorin Oakenshield's band of dwarves have reclaimed their homeland but in the process have caused Smaug the dragon to attack the human settlement of Laketown, while various forces converge on the Lonely Mountain for the titular punch-up.
Although the Hobbit movies haven't had the depth and richness of the LOTR trilogy ( hardly surprising, given the slimmer source material ) they've been good fun and this last installment is probably my favourite of the three. The opening scenes of Smaug burning Laketown are excellent, convincingly showing the chaos and panic that can be caused by the average giant, fire-breathing lizard on a night out, with a chance for Luke Evans to shine as Bard the ( dragon-slaying ) Bowman. And the metaphors come thick and fast as the humans flee for their lives from the scaly WMD to become bedraggled, starving refugees. Which all leads to a further, Iraq-sized metaphor as the death of Smaug brings pretenders to the throne, all after the gold horde under the mountain.
Richard Armitage gives probably the best performance of this series as he descends into paranoia and madness, his arrogance and stubborn behaviour leading to the clash of orcs, dwarves, elves, men and eagles.
And the final battle, when it comes, is very satisfying although still not a patch on the greatest dust-up in all the six films  -  the awesome, rain-drenched spectacle of the assault on Helm's Deep. But the USP of this film's five-way fight is the focus on the individuals caught up in the fray: the various strands of story all converge here and not all the characters survive. Bilbo, unfortunately, seems to be just an observer for most of the time and Martin Freeman only just manages to rescue his performance from becoming a collection of tics and mannerisms. But rescue it he does and his simple, honest hobbit proves again that the smallest characters can have the biggest hearts. Elsewhere it's exciting to see old friends and foes return as Christopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen and Hugo Weaving all reprise their roles and take on the ghostly Nazgul in a thrilling, if short, supernatural slug-fest. The trilogy is wrapped up and linked to LOTR by a lovely last scene appearance by Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo. An old wizard is knocking on his door...

Soundtrack: Hounds Of Love by Kate Bush
"Take my shoes off and throw them in the lake..."

2 comments:

Tomas said...

I'm off to see this at the Guildhall on the 27th Jan. My friend from college is a big fan so I said I'd go with him, but I've not seen the first two yet! Eek! I might get a bit lost.

cerebus660 said...

I'm sure you'll be able to pick up the story, Tom, but obviously it would be better to see the other films first. And, as much as I love the Guildhall, I'd recommend you see this movie on a bigger screen for the full effect. Hope you enjoy your trip to Middle Earth anyway :-)

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