Movie Review – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. 3.5 Stars

Peter Jackson definitely delivers in the conclusion of The Hobbit trilogy, and if this is to be his last ever romp throughout Middle Earth, then at least he has ended his journey on a high.

Review by Cherie Wheeler

In the third and final The Hobbit film, The Battle of the Five Armies, Smaug the dragon unleashes his wrath upon a small village at the foot of the Lonely Mountain, and becomes slain by human warrior Bard (Luke Evans). The tale of the death of Smaug travels quickly throughout the realm, and before long the elves, dwarves, and orcs become engaged in a contest to seize the Mountain. In between all the carnage and chaos, a little hobbit courageously tries to negotiate peace. The leader of his Company, and his dear friend, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), has succumbed to dragon sickness, and on account of his madness, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is forced to betray him, in the hope of saving them all.

Since the first The Lord of the Rings film in 2001, audiences have come to expect a certain quality from Peter Jackson, and his latest film is no exception. Whether it be the efforts of the design department in the glamorous costumes worn by the elves, and the unique hairstyles created for each of the dwarves; or the work of the special effects team in bringing the orcs to life; or the photography of the incredible landscapes and set interiors; from start to finish the film is visually breathtaking, and you become completely engulfed by the world of Middle Earth.

I’m not much of a Tolkein fan; I have made countless attempts to read The Hobbit, but have never been able to stick with it long enough to reach the final chapters, consequently it genuinely surprised me when I found this film to be so very entertaining. The action sequences were utterly thrilling, not only in the choreography and the shot selection, but also in how the locations were incorporated into some of the fights. Most notable is the use of the ice covered lake during a one on one battle between Thorin and the leader of the orcs.

Freeman is perfect as always in his portrayal of Bilbo, and he provides some much needed comic relief in between the war scenes. Other strong performers include Armitage as Thorin, Ian McKellan as Gandalf, and Lee Pace as the elf king Thranduil. There are some definite weak links among the cast, however, such as Orlando Bloom, who always looks ridiculous when done up as Legolas the elf, and Ryan Gage really grates on the nerves as the cowardly Alfrid whose antics fail to conjure up any laughs.

Although highly engaging, there were moments that caused me to cringe, particularly when a situation became too fantastical. For example, Smaug’s booming dragon voice (which is actually the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch) was more than a little silly; he was far more menacing when he did not speak, as he came across as a wild beast that could not be tamed. The majority of the dialogue was clichéd and predictable, and at times even the more seasoned actors struggled to deliver their lines convincingly.

The script is the only significant flaw, thus considering this, and how much I enjoyed the film, I am rating it with 3.5 stars.

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