The Hob­bit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

Fact: bat­tles make ev­ery­thing bet­ter

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated / Dvd & Blu-Ray -

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.

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