Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Luke Evans, Richard Armitage, Lee Pace, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Billy Connolly, Graham McTavish, Ken Stott, Ian Holm, Sylvester McCoy, Ryan Gage, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, William Kircher, Adam Brown, Aiden Turner, Manu Bennett, Hugo Weaving, Dean O’ Gorman, Christopher Lee, James Nesbitt, Stephen Fry, Mikael Persbrandt.
There and back again, the circle and fellowship are now complete and for fans of J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit, as well as The Lord of the Rings, there will surely be never anything presented on such a grand, elaborate scale ever again; the third instalment of The Hobbit, The Battle of the Five Armies, unless by some sort of piece of fortune The Silmarillion or any of the other works by Tolkien’s son somehow manages to find turned into a trilogy.
No matter how good a series of films have been, and The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have been amongst the very finest of the last 20 years, there comes a time when the journey should and must end, for to keep going is to endanger a sense of ridicule into the proceedings and the warmth and love that has gone into Peter Jackson’s seemingly life-long work will have been for nothing.
Whilst not as fulsome or perhaps as even required as the previous two films in the trilogy, the sense of addition ever squawking at the back of the mind, there is no doubting the lavishness of detail that was poured into The Battle of the Five Armies, the sheer abundance of wealth attached to the proceedings and main fight scenes. It is a film in which offers the film goer the chance of a decent good bye but one in which might not have been actually needed.
The spirit of adventure and danger never leaves the audience member for a minute though and in some scenes the film delivers more than you could ever expect it to. The climax of the battle between Bard, played by the outstanding Luke Evans and the destructive and symbol of Middle Earth repression, Smaug, is one in which leaves the audience breathless and tinged with excitement to come.
It is though an excitement that comes in waves as the padding of the film in which to give it as much credibility as all three of The Lord of the Rings stories and the elegance of the previous two Hobbit outings, never really truly frames the imagination to its fullest and brightest potential.
For Martin Freeman as the eponymous Hobbit, the film has cemented his prowess as an actor, a position in which he will find perhaps forever unable to top but one that will see him lauded for the rest of his career and for Cate Blanchett, Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch and Lee Pace it is a series of films in which they have rightly been looked upon as being the dedicated and unashamed stars that they are. It is though to Ryan Gage in which the film’s humour derives. As the deceitful self-serving Alfrid, he is a tremendous boon to the arc and punctuates the seriousness of the emotion with Monty Python stalwart Terry Jones like quality.
If there is anything that lets down this film, for it is certainly not devotion, commitment, style or detail, it is the fact that even after three films, there is an empty feeling of unfinished business attached to it, that somehow the story has been truly neglected for the sake of getting it over and done with. The ties that should bind The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings are loose, somehow frayed and with a few glaring inaccurate mistakes in which will have those having seen all six films and even those having read the books scratching their heads at how time-lines manage to converge.
The journey is complete…in a roundabout fashion.
Ian D. Hall