The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Fact: battles make everything better
Release Date: 20 April 2014 | 12A | Blu- ray/ DVD/ download ( 6 April) Director: Peter Jackson Cast: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ian McKellen, Luke Evans, Cate Blanchett
During one of
the featurettes on this release, Peter Jackson proudly proclaims of The Battle Of The Five Armies, “I think it’s the best of the three.” It’s hard to disagree with him. Out of his trilogy of much- maligned, over- padded Hobbit films, this is definitely the one that’s the most solid, bolstered as it is by energetic, engaging battle scenes, a magnetic performance from Richard Armitage’s gonebonkers Thorin and the thrilling sight of Smaug the dragon on a fiery rampage.
Sure, there are issues. There’s a pointless comedy subplot about the Master of Lake- town’s aide which never seems to end. Given that more than a decade has passed since the end of the first trilogy – eons in technology years – it’s bizarre that the CGI looks worse than that in The Lord Of The Rings. And Martin Freeman’s Bilbo, always the heart of Tolkien’s book, doesn’t get much to do – although he still does it so well that your heart may break when his does.
But there’s also a lot to love. To offset all the Dwarf/ Elf melodrama we see Luke Evans come into his own as the human, Bard, who takes things so seriously he’s basically this trilogy’s Aragorn. Those aforementioned battles are bloody delicious: who knew that Billy Connolly riding a pig would be one of the trilogy’s highlights? And there’s something so deliciously Shakespearean about Thorin’s plight that you almost expect him to wonder if he should “be or not be” when the arrows of outrageous fortune fly in from those Elves. Armitage’s performance is Oscar- worthy, although such accolades are probably a sore point, given this film’s insulting single nomination for Sound Editing ( remember how The Return Of The King won 11 statuettes? How times have changed...).
Of course, the fact this final film is rather good may not sway those of you who bailed halfway through the first. But it’s a shame to write off this trilogy as a whole, because the journey – long and meandering though it was – is ultimately worth it. Plus, you can’t diminish what the filmmakers have achieved with these six movies. As Jackson also says in the extras: “It’s become a lifestyle, more than just a job.” It’s a way of life we will sorely miss.
There are roughly 50 minutes of behind- the- scenes featurettes included here; as usual, if you want more to find more to chew on, you’ll have to wait for the extended edition, out later this year ( date TBC). The adorable 11- minute featurette “Recruiting The Five Armies” takes a look at the life of an extra in Lake- town, and will leave you wishing you’d been there to enjoy all the fun; the near 20- minute “Completing Middle- earth” explores how the Hobbit films tie in closely with the Rings trilogy, maybe even bringing up some points you’ve never even considered ( note how Gandalf ’s dragon firework in Fellowship performs the same manoeuvre as Smaug in this film...). A piece about Billy Boyd’s end credits song is pretty interesting, and you get the video of it too. Finally, there’s another “New Zealand: Home Of Middle- earth” featurette to round things off. Jayne Nelson
The journey – long and meandering though it was – is ultimately worth it
The lyrics for Billy Boyd’s “The Last Goodbye” were written by writer/ producer Philippa Boyens in a bathroom.
Archie the archery teacher knew he had a very keen class this year.