The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Film Review – Guest Post!

Another amazing guest post from my friend Gabriella and this will become a regular monthly post from her now, film reviews! I’m happy to announce that the first one will be the third and final Hobbit film.

Image taken from fortitudemagazine.co.uk

Category:

Fantasy/Action

Ideal For:

Fans of fantasy and anything to do with Lord of the Rings/Tolkien.

Rewatchability Factor (out of 10)

8

Overall Rating (out of 10)

9

Review:

Because of the truly spectacular end to the Lord of the Rings trilogy with Return of the King, and the controversy surrounding a 300-page book being split into three films, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies had a lot to live up to. Thankfully it lived up to it all.

Set at the end of their quest, having finally reached the majestic halls of Erebor, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and the rest of The Company have accidentally unleashed the evil dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) on the unsuspecting Lake-Town. However, as the name suggests, this film isn’t merely about a fight between Dwarves and Dragons, but rather a larger battle that is the primary focus of the second half of the film.

Although the seriousness of the story is obvious throughout all three films, BOTFA takes it to a new level with the lengthy, blood-filled battles, the realities of war and showing how an overabundance of pride can devastate a world. There is still humour to be found though, most of which is a well-timed relief from the sombre tone of the film, but there were a few occasions that seemed a little more forced.

At just under two hours and thirty minutes, it is the shortest of the trilogy but is still fairly lengthy, but it never feels as though it drags on. So much is happening within the film, including a side story with Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) and The Necromancer (Benedict Cumberbatch), that it doesn’t feel like a long film. The changes between scenes, from the Dwarves, Elves Legolas and Tauriel (Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lilly), and the Race of Man such as Bard (Luke Evans), are all nicely paced. Even when the main battle begins, the other parts don’t feel rushed or unnecessary.

In the book, Bilbo Baggins is the main focus of the story, and because of this, there was an expectation for Martin Freeman to leave the most lasting impression, and he does do a wonderful job, but it was Richard Armitage that well and truly stole the show. Because Thorin had to undergo a major personality change, there was a chance that the change would have felt unnatural or disingenuous, but Armitage’s interpretation felt incredibly real and the struggle within his mind was so superbly done that his madness was almost tangible. Richard Armitage deserves an Oscar for his performance, although the likelihood of this happening is unfortunately incredibly slim. Regardless, a part of what makes BOTFA so great, and gives it such a deep emotional resonance, is Thorin Oakenshield.

After two viewings of BOTFA, there were only two issues with the film. The first is the CGI. While most of it was absolutely superb, there was simply too much of it, and some parts seemed unnecessary. The character Dain (played by Billy Connolly) appeared to have a CGI beard, which looked bizarre, and some of soldiers in the battle looked copied and pasted in places. While this is not a major issue, it made escapism difficult in places.

The second issue with the film was the focus on some characters that left others being ignored almost completely. Legolas had a significantly longer screen time despite not being in the original book than characters that were, including a long battle scene that could have easily made room for other characters. An original character, a human male by the name of Alfrid (Ryan Gage) also ended up with considerable screen time, most of which was tedious and irritating; the film would have been just as perfect without him.

With all the hype and build up over the last two years, there was concern that it would end up collapsing under the weight of all the expectations. However, the final film was a masterpiece that truly deserves to be recognised as one of the greatest film of 2014. A poignant but fitting farewell to Middle-Earth.

Quick Review:

Positives: Great end to a brilliant trilogy; amazing acting, particularly by Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman; emotionally compelling; great battle scenes

Negatives: Poor CGI in places; irritating original character; not enough screen time for other characters.

Thanks again Gabriella for this film review, it was amazing!

Did you go and watch this when it was out? If so did you like it? Let us know in the comments!

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