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    December 26, 2014

    REVIEW: THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES

    The Hobbit may have been an underwhelming franchise when it stands next to the great The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy, but I believe that there is still no one who is capable of tackling this better than Peter Jackson. The point is this movie could have been even worse than it is right now, but luckily it does not end up that well – a sigh of relief. The criticisms are still pretty much aim on the studio’s decision to split a children’s book down into three-part adventure, and while the previous two were nowhere near the kind of standard set by the LOTR. But there may be some shimmering hopes as this third and final chapter - The Battle of Five Armies as it offers a more entertaining, engrossing story closure and the epic battle that may justify the wait, albeit it comes a little too late.


    Continuing where we last left in The Desolation of Smaug, the lake town of Esgaroth is set ablaze by the raging Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch). Bard (Luke Evans) being one of the few courageous souls successfully kills Smaug with the black arrow. That happens within the first 15 minutes! With the death of Smaug, Thorin (Richard Armitage) and his company are able to reclaim the city of Erebor and its vast halls filled with treasures. Inflicted with the “dragon sickness”, Thorin orders his company to search for the Arkenstone, but Bilbo (Martin Freeman) who has stolen it from Smaug decides to keep it out of Thorin’s sight. Bard, then forms an alliance with the elf leader Thranduil (Lee Pace) to reclaim their shares from the Erebor treasure, in which the disillusioned Thorin refuses to give up. The three forces ultimately form an uneasy alliance when the Azog’s army comes attacking.

    There is nothing much to complain about after having three more movies that showcase Peter Jackson's technical achievements for the franchise and for the whole Middle Earth saga. Once again, Jackson brings us into the absolute beautiful landscape and picturesque of New Zealand which serves as the canvass of the action setting that is simply breathtaking to watch. Jackson definitely knows how to frame them to fit into his highly physical, dynamic action-oriented story with plenty of amazing CGI spectacle, much like the Battle of Helm's Deep in The Two Towers, for which I think is a fair comparison to make. With the help of visual magic and trick, the substantial portrayal of dragon raining fire from the sky above, as well as the war and the horror it brought, could not be more accurate than this.

    The storytelling department for this third chapter is still pretty much a dilemma and two-sided issue. From one positive angle, the grounded story which sets only in Erebor is nevertheless compelling and engrossing, with clear cut motivations and reasons to go around the characters, and is noticeably better written than the predecessors. The most interesting aspect of the narrative technique is how this movie alludes to reality – at least during Tolkien’s time about the greed, gold and war. It draws a fine parallel comparison to the existence of humanity. Unfortunately, the downside is that the hour long set-up and slowly building to the final battle can be very tedious for the impatient. The thin-layered storyline is the major concern that puts the whole trilogy in a fragile emotional investment and large scale storytelling, but is also duly understandable considering that it is adapted from the last few chapters. The obligatory romantic subplot is entirely unnecessary, but it speaks to a form of marketing strategy here. At least, some or much of Tolkien’s identity is preserved well.

    The Hobbit trilogy finally comes to an end - with an engrossing, rich and a satisfactory closing chapter that is highlighted by amazing epic battle scenes and lean pacing, but also a notch down from The Desolation of Smaug. However, the fragile and limited storyline displayed throughout the trilogy poses little impact to the newer generation of tales from the Middle Earth. B+

    Numerical Rating (In case you are also interested):
    Story: 3.5
    Casts: 4.5
    Cinematography: 5.0
    Effects: 5.0
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 16.0/20.0

    Trailer:


    Info Dashboard:
    The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies
    Casts: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch
    Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
    Director: Peter Jackson
    Screenplay: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro, based on The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Rating: P13
    Release date: 18 December 2014
    Running time: 144 minutes
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