Bet­ter than play­ing to chil­dren?

The Hob­bit: The Bat­tle of the Five Armies

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - ON STAGE -

Martin Free­man, Ian McKellen, Richard Ar­mitage, Luke Evans, Evan­ge­line Lilly, Or­lando Bloom, Ai­dan Turner, Ken Stott, James Nes­bitt, Ryan Gage, Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch, Cate Blanchett, Christo­pher Lee, Stephen Fry, Billy Connolly, Pace

ALee LMOST 13 years to the day since di­rec­tor Peter Jack­son first trans­ported us to Mid­dle Earth, the Os­car- win­ning New Zealand film­maker com­pletes his tour of duty of JRR Tolkien’s nov­els.

It has been a long and some­times gru­elling slog since The Lord Of The Rings: The Re­turn Of The King.

Giddy ex­pec­ta­tion has crashed and burned, with only a few smol­der­ing em­bers for ar­dent fans to stoke in the hope that Jack­son might re­deem him­self with this con­clud­ing chap­ter of The Hob­bit tril­ogy.

Alas, The Bat­tle Of Five Armies bids farewell to the hob­bits, dwarfs and elves with a whim­per rather than a bang.

The script oc­ca­sion­ally de­vi­ates from Tolkien’s source text, con­triv­ing one su­per­flu­ous and pro­tracted in­ter­lude with elvish al­lies El­rond (Hugo Weav­ing) and Gal­adriel (Cate Blanchett) and wizard Saru­man (Christo­pher Lee) to pro­vide a flimsy bridge be­tween the two se­ries.

Jack­son’s mas­tery of ac­tion se­quences is beyond doubt – the two set pieces, which book­end this film, are ex­e­cuted with flair, pre­ci­sion and a mi­asma of im­pres­sive dig­i­tal ef­fects.

How­ever, all that tech­ni­cal sound and fury with­out com­pa­ra­ble emo­tional heft makes for in­creas­ingly weari­some view­ing.

We should be thank­ful this con­clud­ing jaunt is the short­est of the six: a mere 144 min­utes.

The company of dwarves led by Thorin Oak­en­shield (Richard Ar­mitage) and in­clud­ing Bilbo Bag­gins ( Martin Free­man) watches in hor­ror as the mighty dragon Smaug (voiced by Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch) in­cin­er­ates Lake­town.

As the flames rise, Bard the Bowman ( Luke Evans) pre­pares to launch the last re­main­ing black ar­row at the beast.

His chil­dren seek cover with elf war­rior Tau­riel (Evan­ge­line Lilly) and badly in­jured dwarf Kili (Ai­dan Turner).

Nearby, the Master of Lake­town (Stephen Fry) and sniv­el­ling hench­man Al­frid (Ryan Gage) make their es­cape in a barge laden with gold.

At Dol Gul­dur, Gan­dalf (Sir Ian McKellen) es­capes from the clutches of the Ne­cro­mancer (Cum­ber­batch again) and beats a hasty path to the moun­tains, where var­i­ous tribes will con­verge.

“You must sum­mon our friends, bird and beast – the bat­tle for the moun­tain is about to be­gin!” bel­lows the wise wizard.

As the fate of Mid­dle Earth hangs in the bal­ance, Thorin sac­ri­fices ev­ery­thing in his self­ish pur­suit of the myth­i­cal Arken­stone.

The Hob­bit: The Bat­tle Of Five Armies fol­lows a sim­i­lar tem­plate to ear­lier pic­tures, re­solv­ing plot strands in­clud­ing the for­bid­den ro­mance of Tau­riel and Kili as the blood flows in bru­tal fight se­quences.

Com­i­cal in­ter­ludes with Al­frid seem to jar with the darker tone that per­vades this chap­ter, in­clud­ing the in­evitable loss of at least one hero in the melee.

Free­man’s per­for­mance pro­vides a flimsy emo­tional ful­crum while co-stars bat­tle with their char­ac­ters’ demons or hordes of blood­thirsty orcs.

As the end cred­its roll, ac­com­pa­nied by an orig­i­nal song from Billy Boyd who played Pip­pin in The Lord Of The Rings saga, we feel a sense of re­lief rather than sad­ness.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.