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This blog is a catalogue of my writings, for myself and those who would care enough. As I continue to post in various places over the net, this blog will become the central resource for the worthy pieces. It also gives me a platform to write without an excuse or as a response.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, etc.
Release date: December 11, 2014
Thirteen years since we first saw Peter
Jackson’s hobbits walk across the cinema screen, his epic six-movie saga
on Middleearth comes to an end with the last of the Hobbit films. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,
in many ways, is Jackson’s most sincere Hobbit film – it is neither an
unnecessary indulgence, fan-service nor award-baiting. It is an
entertaining and energetic finale that stays faithful to the one thing
that matters most: telling a great story. The relatively shorter
runtime, a different format of events (there is no journey) and the
uninterrupted pacing undoubtedly make it the best of this trilogy.
The movie picks up from the cliffhanger ending of The Desolation of Smaug,
with the dragon on its way to burn down Laketown. At the Lonely
Mountain, now having claimed his throne and the treasures of Erebor,
Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) seals himself in with the rest of
the dwarves and one hobbit, refusing to help the displaced Men or make a
deal with the Elves. But as the armies of Orcs and Goblins converge on
the mountain, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) must work to unite Dwarves,
Men and Elves, despite their differences, in a great battle of the five
As with all of Jackson’s Middleearth films, The Battle of the Five Armies
starts with a pre-credit sequence that takes you right into the thick
of things. This time, Jackson gives us the most breathtaking opening of
this trilogy; on par with the Gandalf-Balrog opening of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
Smaug is a dragon of few words this time, focusing on devastating
Laketown while the only one to stand against the nefarious beast is Bard
the bowman, played by a confident Luke Evans. Post title, once the
story moves to the Lonely Mountain, it is a matter of time before the
huge and relentless battle starts that lasts most of the movie’s 144
minute running time.
Though J. R. R. Tolkien’s small
children’s book has been stretched to a trilogy, the decision by the
filmmakers to condense much of the tale into the first two films and
leave a seemingly one-act finale for a rousing closure does wonders for
this film. Peter Jackson pulls out all stops in a brutal (but
non-bloody) battle, yet the proceedings never get monotonous. The battle
strategies and details envisioned by Jackson’s team are as fascinating
as those witnessed earlier in the battles of Helm’s Deep (The Two Towers) and Pelennor Fields (Return of the King).
The troop formations, the use of battle-trolls & other fantasy
monsters and exploiting other war devices gives the production team lots
of room to improvise, especially considering J. R. R. Tolkien did not
have any description of the battle in his book.
The non-existence of mini-adventures as present in the previous two films also allows The Battle of the Five Armies
to explore a few characters better, particularly Thorin. His descent
into obsession and madness was hinted at previously, but this movie
plunges him into it. And while Ian McKellen’s Gandalf continues to shine
as the saga’s strongest character and best performance, Cate
Blanchett’s Galadriel gets to flaunt what it is about her character that
others in Middleearth love and fear. Lee Pace also gets to add
dimension to the character of Thranduil. Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins,
though, is mostly a supporting character in the film, considering there
is very little that a lone hobbit can do when there are five races of
warriors battling all around him.
One of the smaller delights of the film is its short and delightful ending that ties it to the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. Fittingly so, since even though The Hobbit trilogy doesn’t quite reach the dazzling heights of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Battle of the Five Armies
brings it close. With Peter Jackson’s monumental six-movie
thirteen-year saga complete, the sheer ambition of which may have
sounded too audacious to accomplish at one point, the entire cast and
crew of the series must be applauded for what is undeniably the greatest
cinema experience in the fantasy genre ever.