BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: PETER JACKSON / SCREENPLAY: FRAN WALSH, PHILIPPA BOYENS, PETER JACKSON, GUILLERMO DEL TORO / STARRING: MARTIN FREEMAN, IAN McKELLEN, RICHARD ARMITAGE, JAMES NESBITT / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 20TH
Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth movies have been quite the journey thus far, so it’s rather rewarding that the series ends with an enormous fight. The Battle of the Five Armies is essentially an action movie, with dragons, elves and dwarves. With Billy Connolly on the back of a giant battle pig for good measure.
Put simply, The Battle of the Five Armies is ridiculous but in a rather splendid way. It follows directly on from The Desolation of Smaug, and we mean directly. The dragon that is unleashed at the end of that feature is on the wing and ready to burn down everything in sight. Cue a thrilling rooftop battle, some over acting from Stephen Fry and some utterly stunning special effects.
It’s clear from the way the story has been presented that Jackson has been keen to milk out every possible bit of lore from the franchise. The rights only covered The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings; Jackson is clearly conscious that this is his last chance to bring Tolkien’s complex world to the screen. With this is mind, it does seem odd that the finer details of the ending are lost. We learn nothing about what happened to the people Lake Town or what happens to the rest of the treasure, though all of this may be well added in the now customary extended edition. Still, it seems strange to leave these highly relevant plot threads hanging.
The DVD release lacks anything in the way of real special features – mostly we get an advert for New Zealand, which looks very pretty and I’m sure everyone would love to go some day.
The cast is incredible and every single performer gives it their all; Martin Freeman embodies Bilbo Baggins by being the very spirit of English manners and sneakiness, Richard Armitage is mesmerising as a would be king who has become overwhelmed by power and Sir Ian McKellen’s performance as Gandalf is truly magical. The effects are incredible, the setting is superb and yet the entire affair somehow fails to sell the viewer on the ancient world of Middle Earth. Maybe it’s the aforementioned Billy Connolly riding a war boar or the overly long war scenes. Maybe we’ve just had too many hobbits for now. It’s a fabulous send-off, but it’s just not as amazing as it could be.
Extras: Various featurettes / documenaries / trailer for the Extended Version / music video.