<Review by: Daylynn DeSouza>
Directed by Peter Jackson. Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, John Callen, Stephen Hunter, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, James Nesbitt, Graham McTavish, Bret McKenzie, Dean O’Gorman, Adam Brown, Aidan Turner, Lee Pace, Stephen Fry, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Barry Humphries
We’ve seen all the posters, trailers and teasers calling this movie: ‘The Defining Chapter of the Middle-Earth Saga’ and if you’re like me, you don’t buy into statements like that, especially when the teaser and the trailer for the movies were thoroughly disappointing.
I am glad to say however that the movie is in fact every bit as good as it claims to be and it is by far the best of all six of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, and also happens to be the shortest with a measly 144 minutes of Middle-Earth goodness.
I don’t believe I am wrong that when I say that this is the best movie of the year, beating Guardians of the Galaxy and out soaring past Interstellar (1/5th of a star out of 5 if you ask me) by light-years. Peter Jackson has outdone himself; it’s no wonder they gave him a star on the walk of fame.
The acting, production and soundtrack of this movie were all exceptional as usual so I’m not going to waste time talking about it other than saying Martin Freeman (Bilbo) and Richard Armitage (Thorin) have done a brilliant job (as has everyone else but these two really stood out).
I do not wish to give away the plot points of the story for those of you who have been unfortunate enough not to read the book so I’ll do my best to avoid any major spoilers. Since this movie is called, ‘The Battle of Five Armies’, let’s begin with the action sequences.
First off we pick up where the last movie left off (The Desolation of Smaug) and get to Smaug’s attack on the village, which simply looks visually stunning and terrifying. Then you get to see every character you haven’t seen in action already get their shot at being a bad ass in this movie, including a certain Wizard and a very beautiful Female Elf.
My personal favourite was seeing Dain Ironfoot (played by Billy Connolly) wielding his hammer and a few of our favourite Dwarfs riding their Battle Rams and taking down an Orc Pack. Yes, Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) are awesome too, but we’ve already seen that before and you know you’re not going to be disappointed. The Elven and Dwarf Battle Armour is absolutely stunning, each type with its own refined subtleties that are in stark contrast to the unrefined and jagged armour that the Orcs wear. And after all these films we finally get to see Dwarfs riding Dwarven Mounts like Boars and Rams; the Rams were especially amazing to watch.
Most of you have probably heard stories of the 45 minute-long battle scene in this movie; let me assure you that it is nowhere near as dull as it sounds. It is in fact the exact opposite and a great build up to the final fights we’ve been waiting for: Legolas fights Bolg (Lawrence Makoare) and Thorin finally confronts Azog (Manu Bennett). Oh, and you get to see Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt) plough his way through some Orcs while in bear form.
It is the most masterful weaving of action and narrative I’ve seen so far, keeping you on edge and dealing with characters and their emotional struggles along the way, including the love triangle we seen brewing between Legolas, Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and Kili (Aidan Turner) and Thorin’s battle against the madness that possessed his grandfather and is now beginning to possess him. Please do remember to carry a handkerchief or some tissues with you as you will be teary eyed during the emotional climaxes (of which there are many).
We are also reminded of why Hobbits are special as Bilbo with his gentle heart, kind soul and words, shows us yet again that Hobbits do have a certain magic about them, a way to fill us all with hope and bring us light when we are in darkness and they remind us of how cosy and pleasant home can really be. It’s been a long emotional journey for fans of the Hobbit and it was worth every second. I only wish we had more movies to look forward to with such amazing narrative, emotion and action.
Finally, a quick note about the 3D: it is better than usual and doesn’t distract you with silly gimmicks like other 3D movies usually do. While I am generally annoyed by 3D making everything in the movie a shade darker and ruining the film for me it didn’t do that this time. We weren’t treated to the High Frame Rate version of the movie but I would anyway recommend that you don’t bother with it or the 3D if you can. The movie is brilliant enough as it is and doesn’t need anything more than 2D for it to be enjoyed.
I’d give this movie 5 stars but we still have an extended edition to wait for, so I’ll have to give it an insignificant 4 stars because if history has taught me anything it’s that the extended edition of any of Peter Jackson’s movies can only be better than the normal version.