Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Movie Name: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Year of Release: 2014
Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Aidan Turner, Stephen Fry, Dean O'Gorman, John Callen, Ryan Gage, John Bell, Peggy Nesbitt, Mary Nesbitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Billy Connolly, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

As usual around this time of the year, Peter Jackson returns with another chapter dedicated to the characters of Middle Earth. The final installment in the Hobbit saga, picks right after the previous chapter: the dragon Smaug is loose and on a rampage, destroying the city by the lake. When the dragon is destroyed, everyone finally tries to claim part of the gold that exists in the mountain, particularly the dwarf king, who sees that enormous fortune as his and his clan's. The survivors from the city by the lake all drift towards the remains of the city by the mountain, as do the elves, who have claim on some of the treasures in the city. Unbeknownst to them is however, a monumental orc army ready to destroy them all. It's up to all these factions to unite and overcome this potentially lethal battle.
Director Peter Jackson has become synonym with films rooted in fantasy and with an epic scale of story (and budget). The final film in his Hobbit trilogy, concludes Bilbo's adventures, focusing almost exclusively in the long battle scene that occurs for the domination of the mountain where the treasures lie. The film doesn't really add anything in terms of character development, or narrative expansion - the sole focus is the final battle that occurs between the opposing factions. The film succeeds in creating a momentum and a sense of grandiosity, due to the truly remarkable visual effects, production design and cinematography, however those components almost invariably tend to dwarf the major players in the narrative. Bilbo, Gandalf and Bard, have little to do in the film - and this is where the major issue lies in the conclusion of their arcs and of this story in general: this epilogue almost feels like an afterthought, as a final push to develop something where there's nothing (the battle never feels as dramatic and as game changing as the battles that existed in "The Lord of the Rings"). The film is nonetheless a testament to the craft of Peter Jackson and his team, who have truly created something engaging and unique, bringing to life the universe created by J.R.R. Tolkien.