Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

Director: Peter Jackson

Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbach

This is the big conclusion to The Hobbit trilogy and they obviously wanted to end the trilogy with a big bang, so of course, The Battle of the Five Armies ended up being like the ‘Return of the Jedi’ of the Hobbit movies, which is to say, the biggest and baddest of them all. It’s as if all the action that was missing from the previous entries was taken out of those and put into this one, one film to rule them all. The good news is you probably won’t doze off during this one! The action is never ending, right from the get go the film starts off with Smaug the Dragon destroying Lake town, and that’s a real spectacle to watch. Now, I’m a huge fan of Dragons in films, and I have to say that this is one of the best depictions of a dragon, ever. I say one of the best because my favorite dragon is still and apparently will always be ‘Vermithrax Pejorative’, the dragon from Mathew Robbins’ Dragonslayer (1981). Still to this day, I haven’t seen a better movie about dragons than that one, but the dragon in The Battle of Five Armies? Pretty freaking impressive.

In this the final chapter of The Hobbit saga we find the people of Lake Town picking up their remains after in a fit of anger, Smaug the dragon destroys their town. Good news is that after Smaug is slayed, the Lonely Mountain is up for grabs, and if you remember correctly, there’s a huge treasure of gold inside of that mountain! Since this legendary treasure is common knowledge to everyone around, and  there isn’t a fire breathing dragon to protect it anymore, now everybody wants it! The elves, the dwarves, the humans and the orcs! Everybody wants a piece of that treasure! But the dwarves are not willing to give it up! This all leads up to an amazing battle that takes up practically half of the film, which is why I say, this film is none stop action so strap yourselves on tight for this one. It’s not a bore fest! 

The only thing I criticize about these Hobbit movies is that I feel they stretched them out for too long. Yes, I have read the book, and I feel that the whole story could have been told in one, maybe two movies tops. But of course, we can blame Hollywood for wanting to stretch franchises for a few movies more, it’s the new trend in Hollywood. They’ll stretch “the final chapter” into various films. They did it with the Twilight films; they divided the last film into two, Breaking Dawn Part I and II…which creates a small confusion because how can it be part I if this is the fourth film? Oh cause its part one of the “finale” which they’ve now stretched into two films, simply to make a few extra millions. You see Hollywood knows the fans can’t miss a single chapter, because they know audiences are hooked on a feeling, like a junkie looking for the next fix. They also did this with The Hunger Games, “Mocking Jay Part I and II”. The thing is that you feel it, you feel that some of it is just filler, padding to fill running time. They did it with this Hobbit trilogy as well, which if you ask me went on for one movie too long, but whatever, this final film is like all kinds of awesome because it’s monsters and wizards and dragons fighting for almost the entire duration of the film! It’s a fantasy film fans wet dream!

Imagine how much action this film has that it feels like it doesn't have much substance to it. Good thing is that it still manages to pack a wallop emotionally; it has one or two moments which “got to me” because you've known these characters for three movies know, so you kind of grow fond of some of them. I like that in spite of being a huge onslaught of action and special effects, The Battle of Five Armies still manages to tweak your emotion chip, which is something that Peter Jackson has always infused these Lord of the Rings movies with: emotion; sometimes a little too much, but on this one? Just the right amount of schmaltz.

Final words: if you are a fan of fantasy films and love to see Wizards and Witches engaging in magic battles, fire breathing dragons destroying entire towns, and monsters going to war, then The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies won’t disappoint. I still wonder what these movies would have been like had Guillermo del Toro directed them, at least he still gets some credit in the writing department. I’m willing to bet that it was the studios who gave Guillermo del Toro de shaft because they wanted that weight of saying that these three films were directed by the same Peter Jackson who made the previous Lord of the Rings films. That’s a huge selling point right there and I’m sure they didn’t want to let that go, so they axed del Toro, even after he’d given various years of his life in pre-production for these three Hobbit films. Del Toro’s take on it was that he left because he couldn’t commit to these films for six years of his life, especially when he has so many projects going on with many different studios, which is of course entirely true. Still, Peter Jackson pulled it off nicely and who better to these then the director who made the previous three Lord of the Rings films right? I can’t help but wonder what he’ll do next now that he’s leaving Middle Earth behind, I hope it’s something every bit as spectacular. And to think Jackson’s career started with the low budget indie flick Bad Taste (1987), a movie about aliens looking for human flesh to sell in their own fast food chain! It’s funny, but even in his earlier films; Jackson  always displayed a tendency to go over the top with his ideas, a tendency to shock as much as he possibly could. If he was going to do a puppet movie then it would be the grossest puppet movie you’ll ever see (Meet the Feebles (1989)) If he was going to make a zombie, the it was going to be the bloodiest zombie movie ever (Dead Alive (1989)) and if he does a fantasy film, then he’ll make you jizz your pants with an overdose of monsters and wizardry. Can’t wait to see what he’ll go over the top with next.

Rating: 5 out of 5      


abdul666 said...

The dragons of post-apocalyptic 'Reign of Fire' were not bad either. At least they were biologically credible, while lizards with a pair of bat wings on their shoulders are anatomically not working and (just like centaurs, angels and succubi) must come from Barsoom or Kregen or whatever world where vertebrates have 3 pairs of limbs.

The 1st movie of the trilogy was light-hearted and somewhat childish (rather in accordance with the book), the 2nd was lenghty (but Tolkien's writing are often so), the 3rd is the best, spectacular and at times enthralling. The authors had to add a *lot* to the book, but their additions are in my opinion judicious improvements. I really apprecaied to see Galadriel in full demonstration of her powers!

Franco Macabro said...

Agree with you abdul666, I loved that scene where Galadriel just goes batshit insane and banishes Sauron...wow, the sound effects on her voice during those scenes are pretty spooky. The visuals also make Galadriel seem almost evil, but no, there's no way she's evil,she's just powerful! I also enjoyed that scene where Galadriel, Saruman and Gandalf fight those ghosts, that was freaking cool.

I also liked the Dragons in Reign of Fire as well, but there's something about the dragon in Dragonslayer that feels real and tangible as opposed to the CGI creations seen in more recent fantasy films.


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