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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies review

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When Peter Jackson first announced that his venture back into Middle Earth for The Hobbit was to be split across three separate movies, it was met with vocal concern. Any such apprehensions have sadly been justified, as this third and final endeavour lacks any palpable narrative structure, feeling unnecessarily padded out in the process, in what is effectively one long battle sequence.

Martin Freeman reprises his role as Bilbo Baggins, who is caught up between a sense of loyalty to Thorin (Richard Armitage) and the Company of Dwarves, and then to Gandalf (Ian McKellen), as the former vows to selfishly protect and fight for Erebor following the death of the feared dragon Smaug, rather than provide solace and safety to the humans and elves cast away from their desolate hometown of Lake-town. With the orcs making their way over, an epic battle between five armies transpires – with all parties focusing on the one solitary goal: the kingdom of treasure that lies within.

Though at the times the battle is completely riveting and mesmerising, looking spectacular up on the big screen – it does become tedious, as we crave for more of a substantial and tangible linearity. The film feels like the closing scene to a blockbuster, not a picture in itself. Regrettably it’s that very same tedium which creates an emotional disconnect, and when the more poignant and profound moments occur, the viewer is not as invested. That being said, the choreography is breathtaking at times, and Jackson, as always, has really captured the sense of scale; as the moments leading up to battle when the orcs are slowly making their way creates an intensity, with the hairs rising on the back of your neck in a similar way to how this filmmaker achieved it in the closing stages of the second Lord of the Rings offering, The Two Towers.

Sadly any such comparisons are best left there, and The Hobbit, over the course of this trilogy, struggled to maintain the same level of suspense and drama. This feature does offer something we’ve never seen before though, and it’s definitely something we’ve always wanted to see: Billy Connolly riding a pig. Honestly.

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About Stefan Pape

Stefan Pape is a film critic and interviewer who spends most of his time in dark rooms, sipping on filter coffee and becoming perilously embroiled in the lives of others. He adores the work of Billy Wilder and Woody Allen, and won’t have a bad word said against Paul Giamatti.

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