The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies

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15/1/15

I very nearly didn’t bother with this – which is sad, because I’m a major Peter Jackson fan. I’ve followed him from the early splatter films like Brain Dead and Bad Taste, through the triumph that was Beautiful Creatures and the LOTR films, which were my birthday treat for three consecutive years. I’m also one of the few people who loved his version of King Kong. Like many though, I couldn’t understand why a slim volume like The Hobbit has been amped up into a trilogy and I didn’t much care for part one, though I had to concede that part two was considerably better. And finally, here we are at the end of the whole cycle and the completist in me just had to have his day and catch this on the big screen.

And you know what? This is a beautifully and lovingly crafted thing, every frame a potential work of art. We pick up right where we left off with Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) decimating Lake Town and the various factions with a claim to the gold of Lonely Mountain, preparing themselves for the mother of all battles and… and yet, you can’t quite escape  the feeling that you’ve been here five times before and no matter how wonderfully it’s rendered, no matter what amount of intricate detail goes into every aspect of the story, it’s feeling tired and it’s time for Jackson to move in a new direction.

LOTR and the Hobbit films have been a major undertaking into which the new Zealander has poured so much of himself, founding special effects company Weta along the way and bringing motion capture to the forefront of contemporary cinema. It seemed churlish to complain that he’s stuck in a groove.  What will he do next? I wish he’d give himself a small budget and go back to his roots, film a short and snappy horror flick, though I seriously doubt he will. When you’ve commanded major budgets and casts of thousands, it’s no doubt hard to go back to basics… and yet, there’s part of me that thinks it would reinvigorate him… think Sam Raimi and Drag Me To Hell. As for the Hobbit trilogy, well Jackson has tied everything up nicely and put it all to bed. He deserves a  major pat on the back for his fortitude.

Just keep him well away from the Silmarillion!

4.4 stars

Philip Caveney

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