Blu-Ray Review- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

the-hobbit-battle-five-armies

Peter Jackson changed the course of Fantasy filmmaking forever with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by showing you could make serious fantasy films at massive budgets and even win best film at the Oscars. Jackson returned to Middle Earth with The Hobbit films after much legal hassle (there were a few lawsuits involved). The original director Guillermo Del Toro walked after working on it for  two films and he would have made the more interesting films than the ones eventually made. Two films later and the end is here and it’s a bit anti-climatic to say the least.

The Hobbit:The Battle of the Five Armiesstarts exactly where The Desolation of Smaug ends so if you haven’t seen the previous two films there is really no point in seeing this one you will be more lost than Alice in Wonderland. I had to check Wikipedia for a second just to remember everything from the last Hobbit film. It’s more of the same and really begs the question why did Jackson feel the urge to make three films about initially being green-lit to make two and there is a one worded answer… Money!

It’s filled to the gills with filler scenes and it’s the film that drags the most despite being the shortest film in the whole Middle Earth series by the better part of 20 minutes not including end credits. Bilbo Baggins story becomes increasingly marginalised in favour of the film’s special effects which is exactly the opposite of why The Lord of The Rings worked as well as it did and will last the test of time much more. The Hobbit is a book that is barely over 300 pages which is about the length of each The Lord of the Rings book and has a richer more grown up emotional story which lends itself to the lengthier epic cinematic treatment.

The CGI is overused partly due to pure laziness on Jackson’s part because it’s considered easier to create it in a computer. The Lord of the Rings worked because of the careful balance of miniatures and CGI, of course they are some terrible CGI in those at times but they are over 10 years old at this point. One of worst examples is Billy Connolly’s dwarf Dáin appears to be a completely CGI creation and damn it shows. The big title battle is just a rehash of the end battle of The Return of the King and adds nothing we haven’t seen before but without the power or excitement of that film, there is a reason why it came home with best film at the Oscars that year.

Despite many reservations on this final chapter in the Hobbit series, I did enjoy it and it had a satisfying bridge between The Hobbit films and The Lord of the Rings films. The sequence at Dol Guldur is by far the most impressive which gets increasingly surreal which is refreshing change of pace in the series and almost falls into horror movie territory. It’s a shame Jackson couldn’t have reigned it in at times and just made two films and made two longer extended versions on Blu-Ray down the line.  As it stands it feels like all three films could have used a serious trim and wouldn’t have hurt the story at all.

It’s available in both 3D and 2D Blu-Ray formats and of course on DVD but were over DVD now aren’t we? It’s also available in a 3D and 2D Blu-Ray Boxsets which include all three Hobbit films. There will be a Extended Edition around Christmas time and expect a lavish boxset to have all The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films eventually.

★★★1/2
Ian Schultz

Genre: Fantasy Distributor: Warner Home Video BD Release Date: 20th April 2015 (UK) Rating: 12 Director: Peter Jackson Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Benedict Cumberbatch  BuyThe Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies [Blu-ray] [2015] [Region Free]

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