Thursday, December 18, 2014

[Review] The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies

"Follow me one last time."

The journey comes to a rousing end in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies. If you're already on board, you know the deal--the fiery dragon Smaug is the loose, Thorin and Co. have reclaimed their treasure-filled homeland, the people of Lake-town are on the move, the Elves have beef with the Dwarves, the Orcs are forming a powerfully frightening army, and the little burglar Bilbo Baggins is in the middle of it all.

Things get complicated in this because the narrative has planted pieces to empathize with for each side of the ensemble (except for the Orcs, of course), which makes the impending war even more tragic. The story has always been driven by Thorin & Co. (and Bilbo), but Bard the Bowman holds down a significant portion this time as he protects his family, leads the Lake-town people, and attempts to reckon with the now demented Thorin. And ever since The Desolation of Smaug, Legolas' presence, along with the brand new character Tauriel, have made for some nice cinematic additions. And despite what detractors might say, the business between Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond, Saruman and their plight against Sauron's emerging wrath isn't just unnecessary padding. It more-so serves as foreshadowing to the catastrophic events in Lord of the Rings, which creates tighter links between the two trilogies while providing some more weight.

The Battle of The Five Armies is shorter, faster paced, and more action oriented than the previous Hobbit installments. The war breaks out with brilliantly orchestrated chaos. Peter Jackson's flair for fantasy setpieces is unrivaled, and the overall scope and epicness of the compositions should not be taken for granted. The intimate, emotional beats culminate as well. A lot of this is obviously owed to Tolkien, but in a world of dwarves, elves, and wizards, Jackson impressively knows how to bring out the human elements of friendship, love, and the internal dynamics within each and every one of the forefront characters. With all of that, there's definitely a handful tear-jerking farewells.

Yes, the film is the back end of a full story, but it's a very entertaining back end. Yes, at times it's a little cartoony, yet it greatly captures the essence of Tolkien's novel. And yes, this trilogy was doomed to never match the phenomenal excellence of The Lord of the Rings and its potential "greatest films of all time" discussion, but that doesn't mean that The Hobbit wasn't another story worth telling.

I'm ecstatic that we could go there and back again.


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