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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Review: Ironically falls short

Peter Jackson’s ‘epic’ conclusion does build and improve on its previous two installments but feels anticlimactic, misplaced and at times laughable.

Much has been made about Jackson stretching the contents of a 300 page children’s book to over 8 hours of feature film production but the irony here is the conclusion being too short.

Right from the off we are flown into a set piece of Smaug burning down Laketown and confronting Luke Evans’ Bard. The Desolation of Smaug built up to this ferocious attack and the eventual slaying of the dragon. In truth this proved to be anticlimax number one. Smaug, perhaps the most redeeming feature of The Hobbit trilogy alongside Martin Freeman, was underused and gone in the blink of an eye.

Whilst the following similarities between the Arkenstone and the one ring are extremely forced and distractingly Meta, they do add another character layer to Thorin Oakenshield, the Aragorn of The Hobbit trilogy. His voice being interlaced with that of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Smaug, in his state of paranoia, was used to portray Dragon’s Disease and the yearning for gold. It would have sufficed but Jackson and his writing team felt the need to pad the film even further with a video game worthy liquid gold engulfing scene. Much like Michael Bay, Jackson will have to learn that less is sometimes more.

The centerpiece of the conclusion fell at the feet of a raging war fought on five fronts. Littered with amazing deaths and kills, some of which are surprising from a children’s trilogy, the battle of the five armies proves to be anticlimactic. The 6-hour build up was not matched by the 40-minute war scene, which found itself disjointed by a misplaced Billy Connolly appearance, ludicrous romantic tendencies and ‘that’ Legolas scene.

The may be a minor uproar about the extensive use of CGI and green screen in The Hobbit but I admit I am not a supporter. For the most part the visual effects work, are immersive and perfectly acceptable. There is of course the small problem of exposition and, yes, ‘that’ Legolas scene, where like Doodle Jump, he defies the laws of physics to jump from falling brick to brick to brick to kill and Orc leader. The scene was intended to be triumphant, enjoyable and ‘punch the air’ worthy but it transpired to be laughable, difficult to look at and frankly embarrassing.

Alas, Peter Jackson has learnt how to end a film after all. The camera swoops calmly and slowly to a map of The Lonely Mountain as we here the peaceful Shier air and the joyful Middle Earth-ian music. It may be a fitting end to a misfiring trilogy but it is a welcoming one. And after all the faults of the trilogy and the direction, one can’t help but give thanks for one last trip to a world I love.

Score – C+

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