The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies DVD Review

DVD Review by Jon E Clist
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The Premise
Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the terrifying Smaug from acquiring a kingdom of treasure and obliterating all of Middle-Earth.

The Review
This journey to Middle Earth has been going on for quite a while now. When the first Lord of the Rings film was released way back in 2001 did we think that here in 2014 we would still be travelling the hills and stony mountains of Tolkien’s world of magic? I certainly did not think this and to be honest as much as I love these films I am suffering a small amount of Hobbit overdose. I think, like many people, that I am ready for the end of this adventure, just as I was well ready for the conclusion of the Harry Potter Saga. As I say that I have really been a champion of the wonderful job Jackson has done with this source material in the past and perhaps it is this Middle Earth Lethargy that hit me at times during the viewing of this final instalment. Let me take a small moment to get it out of the way before I talk about the film as a whole.

Even though Weta’s use of the 48 frames per second technology has certainly got better since the first Hobbit film was released, I still feel as though this is an unnecessary cinematic tool at this stage in the film industry’s life. There were moments when elements of the visuals couldn’t stand up to the tech. Times when Hobbit feet looked great and times when they did not. There were moments when they cut from close ups to mid shots and then long shots where the stand in actors for the main characters did not fully look like the real actors and hence it kind of pulled you out of the world of the Hobbit for a brief moment. Cinema is all about dispelling disbelief and when the disbelief has not been dispelled, it is very hard to fully lose yourself in the moment. Anyway in the grand scheme of things, this didn’t happen all that often and for the most part I certainly was pulled into the intensity that dwells in The Battle of the Five Armies.

Righto, now that I have got that off my chest, here we have a rollicking good time that is less about storyline and more about action, dragon-slaying and big scale battles. (Involving no less than five armies in case you didn’t work it out) While time is given in this final outing to develop the potentially threatening evil nature within King Thorin and the unlikely romance between an elf and a dwarf, the main focus of this film is the culmination of the battle between good and evil. Now of course we release that the happenings of The Lord of The Rings is yet to come to pass and hence the battle will rage on with a multitude of different characters, here we see this current batch of heroes and villains going head to head for the moral soul of Middle Earth.

I think for me, it is important to remember exactly that. This is a movie series about the battle of good versus evil written by a devout Catholic Christian man, whose stories were all about that very thing. The heart of man, the temptation towards evil and who will stand in its way. Sure this in itself is a pretty deep and meaningful component to any story, however there is always the temptation that we as an audience face that draws us to looking for more out of our films than they have to give. This is not a multi-layered emotional arthouse flick that will sit in your mind and heart for a long time. It is a big budget battle for your visual stimulation that wants to tantilise your ears and eyes with fancy effects and large scale visual affairs. Let’s be honest here, it certainly achieves that. As to whether or not it achieves much else, I am not sure it matters.

The Verdict
A great big blockbuster of a film that by no means is perfect but has in a fair to reasonable manner brought a pleasing end to our dalliance in Middle Earth. Thank you and goodnight.

The Trailer

The Info
DVD Releases: 26th March 2015
Rating: M – Contains violence
Duration: 144 minutes 
Genre:  Fantasy Adventure
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom & Richard Armitage
Director: Sir Peter Jackson (LOTR, The Hobbit)

The Extras
When the movie was promoted with a panel at San Diego Comic Con, several fans camped outside hall the day before the panel, in order to get seats. In the middle of the night, the fans were woken up by cast members Lee Pace and Andy Serkis who greeted the waiting fans and delivered autographs and photos for hours. In the end, Pace passed out from exhaustion and shared a mattress with a fan.

The elk that Thranduil (Lee Pace) rides on is played by a horse, named Moose.

Several cast members kept props from the film, upon filming wrapped. Martin Freeman kept his sword and prosthetic ears, while Richard Armitage kept the original Orcrist-sword. Finally, Lee Pace kept his elven-sword, which he keeps in his umbrella stand.

Despite appearing in all three films of the trilogy, Cate Blanchett was on set for only eight days of the production.

The song in the first trailer is "Edge of the Night", originally sung by Peregrin Took in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). Billy Boyd who played Pippin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, will be co-writing and performing the song for the end credits of this film.

Both Ian Holm and Christopher Lee filmed their scenes at London's Pinewood Studios because health concerns left them uncomfortable with flying to New Zealand.

Originally going to be only two films, the filming wrapped on July 6, 2012 after 266 days of principal photography. However, following the decision to split the story into three films, the two films became the first and last films, and the ending from the first film became the beginning of the now second film, and likewise the beginning of the Third film became the end of the second film. Additional scenes for the second film were written and shot during several months of summer 2013.
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This film has the shortest running time of any middle-earth movie, running at 2 hours and 24 minutes.

Peter Jackson has stated this will be his last film he will do with the J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth properties. He's done one other trilogy with the material.

Through the Peter Jackson's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the release date was always set in the month of December. A perfect timing for award season.

The only actors/actresses to apear in all six middle-earth films are Ian McKellen and Cate Blanchett.

Despite being one of the main antagonists in the second film and featured in the cliffhanger, Smaug never appeared in the final trailer.

This is the sixth film taking place in Middle Earth to be directed by Peter Jackson.

This is the last film in The Hobbit trilogy and also the last film in the Middle Earth series of films

Shortest installment of Peter Jackson's Middle-Earth saga.