Plot: What’s it about?
Peter Jackson (finally) concludes his Hobbit trilogy with The Battle of the Five Armies. This film picks up right where last year’s Desolation of Smaug left off where Smaug is ultimately killed by Bard (Luke Evans). By doing so, Bard is now seen as the local hero. There are more subplots and characters here than I care to name, but the film’s title comes from Orcs coming to a mountain in hopes of occupying that location. This causes a problem since there’s word of gold on this mountain. And so the battles begin. With so much going on, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is rather pushed to the side in this outing. I didn’t mind as much since I never found him overly interesting, but it just shows the general lack of focus that these Hobbit films have possessed. My biggest gripe with this trilogy is stretching it into three films. In short: they feel bloated. It’s not to say you won’t get some amazing special effects, but the novelty has worn off.
Whatever project Peter Jackson takes on next, I hope he finally lets this series of films end. I think six films in the same franchise is more than adequate, and that he’s made his point by now. Admittedly, I’ve never been a huge fan of these films, but with LOTR, they at least had an epic feel to them. I very much felt a beginning, middle and end to those stories. Here, it simply feels padded and meanders far too often. I’m general not a fan of prequels anyhow, but this one pushed my patience almost to the point of exhaustion. I found myself checking the time all too often. I’m sure there are more diehard fans that will get more out of this than me, but I was mostly bored during it. Despite my reservations, it was nice to see how Jackson chose to end this trilogy. Although it certainly felt never-ending at times, it’s nice to see him close this chapter. When all is said and done, I can’t see myself ever revisiting this prequel trilogy. I’d much rather watch The Rings trilogy over this one. Still, the fans are out there and I’m sure they’ll get more out of this than I did.
Video: How’s it look?
All of the Hobbit (and Lord of the Rings) films have certainly had their own look. And they look good, no doubt about it. Warner has once again delivered the goods with The Battle of the Five Armies. Simply put, there’s nothing wrong with this picture. Even at 144 minutes, every frame looks flawless. The detail is immaculate, the color palette though dark, has no signs of compression errors. Contrast is bold and solid and flesh tones (and monster tones) look amazing. There is obviously a lot of CGI in the film, but contrast was solid and I noticed no signs of black crush or noise in the shadows. I could go on, but there’s no need – you’ll know what to expect when you pop this in the player.
Audio: How’s it sound?
I have to imagine that these films are ones that you pretty much know what to expect when you put the disc in. Vocals are sharp and strong, but that’s just the beginning when it comes to this robust DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. While the front stage is a heavy, the surrounds are almost constantly churning out something. The LFE are used in several scenes, sometimes offering up the (middle)earth-shattering effects. Essentially, everything in this film makes a noise. Monsters crush things, arrows whiz by, things blow up and so forth. As with its predecessor, there’s simply nothing wrong with this soundtrack and it delivers on every level. I can guarantee that viewers will not be disappointed with this.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Unless Warner is crazy, we’ll no doubt get a much more robust Extended Edition of this movie as we have in the past with the previous two installments. Odds are that there will be about 3x the amount of supplements in that edition, but this should tide over fans until then.
- New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth Part 3 – We once again travel to lovely New Zealand where sheep outnumber humans by a ratio of 7 to 1, still we get the last look at some of the scenic locales that were used to bring the world of The Hobbit to life.
- Recruiting the Five Armies – We get to meet with the extras of the film as they prepare for battle and get made up. Looks like fun!
- Completing Middle-earth: A Six-Part Saga – Peter Jackson gives us an explantation as to the film, how it intertwines the film with that of the Lord of the Rings saga and so on.
- Completing Middle-earth: A Seventeen-Year Journey – It’s hard to believe, but yes – Peter Jackson has basically immersed himself in Middle Earth generating billions in ticket sales, won a Best Picture Oscar and given fanboys things to argue over for decades. So…now what?
- The Last Goodbye: Behind the Scenes – The crew take a look at the writing and recording of Billy Boyd’s “The Last Goodbye.”
- Music Video – You didn’t think they’d have the above feature without the video did you? Presented here is “The Last Goodbye” with Billy Boyd.
- Trailers – The trailer for this film as one for the Extended Edition of The Desolation of Smaug.
- DVD/Digital HD Copy
The Bottom Line
I’m not crazy about the Hobbit films, but the fans are out there. While it has its moments and it was nice to see the trilogy reach its conclusion, it does little else for me. I think Jackson needs to move onto other projects and finally let these films rest.
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