Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Reviewed by: Jordan C.
To say I've been underwhelmed by The Hobbit movies so far would be a vast understatement. But up until The Battle of Five Armies, I haven't overly considered why. I mean, The Desolation of Smaug was obviously too drawn out (and glaringly unnecessary), but no need to beat a dead horse. What my realization was, was that some of the best Lord of the Rings had to offer were the intense skirmishes. Now, that might not seem like an epiphany to some, but not until we were in the heat of dwarf/orc war did I feel that same exhilaration I first felt when I witnessed Legolas and Grimli chalking up kills on the walls of Hornburg in the Battle of Helm's Deep. It got my heart pumping and even though I knew the outcome, I was on the edge of my seat.
Having read The Hobbit when I was quite young, my imagination did an amazing job of visualizing this whole Middle-Earth journey of a timid halfling. So, I can safely say much of what happens in this trilogy is not from the hand of J.R.R.Tolkien. Expanded roles for Bard the Bowman, Radagast the Brown and Beorn the Skin-Changer were fun but superfluous to the core story.
One of the visual highlights for me here was the awesome mounts. Instead of horses and ponies like in Lord of the Rings, these characters ride wild bores, mountain goats, and for much of his screen time Thranduil is astride a majestic deer with oversized antlers. That’s the kind of flavour I like in my fantasy flicks.
The acting talents of Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman were much better utilized in this film than the previous two. Thorin and Bilbo’s interaction had an almost Captain Willard/Col. Kurtz vibe. While Manu Bennett continued to demonstrate his motion capture performance skills as the menacing Azog. Bennett is bad-ass as Deathstroke on Arrow, but he’s downright scary as Azog in The Hobbit trilogy.
Give me a half an hour edit of the first two movies and The Battle of Five Armies and I would have been satisfied. The tie up at the end connecting the two trilogies even worked… but let's hope Jackson can leave the songs and poems of the Simillarion to readers' imaginations.