The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Peter Jackson has finally completed his magnum opus with Part Three of The Hobbit. I am surprised that this has received so much critical acclaim, as this last installment managed to spin out the thinnest of plot lines for just shy of two and a half hours and proffers only the shakiest of nods to Tolkein’s original storyline.
We take up where we left off, with the dragon Smaug hell-bent on the destruction of Laketown. Meanwhile the dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) have taken possession of their old city of Erebor and the gold. They realise that, now the dragon is dead, the whole of Middle Earth will be after the treasure and Thorin, driven mad with goldlust, is prepared to fight to the death to save it for himself.
Cue for the ensuing two hours of incredible CGI orcs, mythical animals, serried rows of Elves, Billy Connolly riding an adorable pig and all sorts of pretty amazing cinematic effects, especially if you see it in 3-D, as we did. I was particularly impressed by some spectacular beheadings and the hideous monsters. And of course the spectacular New Zealand scenery.
If you are of an age or mentality where you like that sort of thing, you will enjoy The Five Armies. I was supremely irritated by the utter deviation from the main themes of the Hobbit: take the Ring, which gets only a passing mention and one slice of the action. Even poor old Bilbo (a rather sad Martin Freeman, I thought) becomes a bit part in a film largely about Thorin’s megalomania and the faux love story between Elven Tauriel (Evangeline Lily) and the dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner). Tauriel’s pronouncements on love must rank as a contender for some of the worst script-writing of 2015.
But it is nice some old favourites, such as Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellan, Sylvester McCoy, and other familiar faces such as James Nesbit, Ken Stott, Orlando Bloom, Stephen Fry and Christopher Lee. Sadly they are but ballast to the great battle and we have little time to enjoy their presence.
Yet again, as its predecessors, the film lacks humour and fails to engender any emotion in the audience, apart from technical wonder. The barrage of the battle (we couldn’t quite work out what constituted the five armies by the way) is so intense that one is cowering in one’s seat waiting for the next assault, one’s senses assailed by sound and images, no time to think about who’s living or dying. Or care.So a sorry end to what should have been as good a romp as Lord of the Rings.Emphatic validation that you simply cannot spin out these Hollywood blockbusters to critical acclaim – my point exactly with Mockingjay 1. Instead of the nice warm feeling I should have of spending time with an old friend this Christmas, I come away feeling cheated and bereft. But I am Mrs Grumpy and Husband, Son and Girlfriend all loved the film. It’s just a mindset. So don’t be put off by me if you like Marvel comics, CGI, Grand Theft Auto and the 21stcentury.