Baggy End

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 2014 | 15 | Blu-ray 3d/Blu-ray/dVd Di­rec­tor Peter Jackson Cast Martin Free­man, richard armitage, Ian McKellen, Or­lando Bloom, evan­ge­line lilly, luke evans

The back­lash against the Hob­bit tril­ogy has been sur­pris­ingly vi­cious, but not un­ex­pected. While it’s true that a tale as slight as Tolkien’s orig­i­nal novel didn’t need to be told over 10 hours, The Bat­tle Of The Five Armies fea­tures some of the most in­ven­tive and en­ter­tain­ing mo­ments in any Mid­dle-earth movie. And while the Hob­bit Ex­tended Edi­tions haven’t felt as de­fin­i­tive as the longer cuts of The Lord Of The Rings, this one is a wor­thy up­grade.

Roughly 10 min­utes have been added. Most of the pre-bat­tle ex­ten­sions are mi­nor, but mean­ing­ful: Rada­gast giv­ing Gan­dalf his staff, Bo­fur catching Bilbo sneak­ing out at the gates of Ere­bor, Thorin stalling for time be­fore Dáin’s ar­rival… The ma­jor­ity of the new footage comes dur­ing the bat­tle it­self, and boy is it bloody. It’s so vi­o­lent that you might want to vet it be­fore show­ing it to young ’uns, with mass Orc de­cap­i­ta­tions ac­com­pa­nied by foun­tains of necrotic fluid. There’s a bril­liant bat­tle be­tween the Dwarves and the Elves, Gan­dalf fights a troll, Al­frid gets a sat­is­fy­ing send-off and there’s a great gag in­volv­ing the axe in Bi­fur’s head. Best of all is the spec­tac­u­lar char­iot se­quence. Glimpsed briefly in the trailer, it’s huge fun and ar­guably the high­light of the en­tire bat­tle.

Ex­tras Around 10 hours of in­sanely in-depth Making Ofs spread across three discs (plus com­men­tary by Jackson and co-writer Philippa Boyens and a few fun fea­turettes). The bulk (four and a half hours) is ded­i­cated to the main shoot, with 90 min­utes for pick­ups and three and a half hours of as­sorted bits and bobs. Those first two (parts 11 and 12 of the Ap­pen­dices) are ex­em­plary – con­sis­tently in­sight­ful and sur­pris­ingly emo­tional, and not just be­cause the late Christopher Lee and An­drew Les­nie put in brief ap­pear­ances. The third chunk is a lit­tle more prob­lem­atic. Clearly as­sem­bled from off-cuts that didn’t make it into the Ap­pen­dices, it feels un­fo­cused and oc­ca­sion­ally cov­ers the same ground as the main doc. There’s some great stuff, but it doesn’t feel es­sen­tial.

If you’re a Rings fan who has skipped the Hob­bit Ex­tended Edi­tions so far, this is well worth a watch just to see Ian McKellen’s fi­nal mo­ments as Gan­dalf and the team that crafted the finest fan­tasy movies ever made at their most con­fi­dent and ca­pa­ble. Jor­dan Far­ley

Most shots of Gan­dalf’s staff in bat­tle had to be dig­i­tally re­placed – he was wield­ing the wrong one for three days’ shoot­ing.

This edi­tion is a wor­thy up­grade

Kevin’s mum had al­ways told him not to pull a face when the wind blew.

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