Peter Jackson's THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES
Movie Review by Dennis McDonald
I’m not a purist when it comes to taking novels to the screen. That Battle of the Five Armies bears little relation to the original novel does not really trouble me. At the same time, I was leary going in to see this film as the first two left me with sort of a “blah” feeling.
I am happy to report that Battle of Five Armies does not disappoint. Many of its sequences are downright amazing starting with the fire attack by Smaug on Laketown. It’s going to be a long time before the movies come up with a superior Dragon.
You can tell how much massed army special effects have advanced since Fellowship of the Ring, too. The sweeping views and perspectives of armies plus the ground level encounters display amazing variety in detail and movement.
I am impressed with the characters. Thorin’s dark side, Tauriel’s emotional distress, Thranduil’s imperiousness, the distress and panic following Laketown’s destruction, all are opportunities to see how the characters behave under stress.
There’s very little “cute” or “charming” in this film. It’s about the action. I saw the film in 3D IMAX courtesy of #1 Son. We’ve both been Tolkien fans for years. Seeing the movie on the big screen is certainly worth it. It’s not just that there’s a lot of detail – which is an understatement — you can also follow a lot of interesting camera movements on the big screen.
Is it worth it to see it in 3D? I’m not so sure. The 3D effects are occasionally quite impressive but what I found even more valuable was the clarity introduced but the 48 frames per second high frame rate. A few times I felt almost disoriented and even a bit dizzy by some of the scenes they were so clear and immediate. I didn’t have this reaction from fancy special-effects action scenes but from smaller close-ups of people and crowds in motion. For me I think the high frame rate and large screen contributed more to the overall experience than the 3D.
In my opinion, this film is the best of the three Hobbit films. Peter Jackson and crew should be proud of what they and WETA have created. But beware: this movie is wall-to-wall action with very little respite. There are no cute little ponies or charming buddy scenes to speak of. The stage is being set for the Lord of the Rings movies. As Saruman the White says at one point, he’ll deal with Sauron in the future.
Movie review copyright (c) 2015 by Dennis D. McDonald