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?
- Audio Commentary – Peter Jackson and co-writer Philippa Boyens discuss the film in its entirety. It’s a good, fact-filled track and you can tell both of them are glad the project is over.
- New Zealand: Home to 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.
- In the Dungeons of the Necromancer– This one is all over the place. Actors Ian McKellen and Cate Blanchett are profiled as is the character of Gandalf and the Wacky Wheel of Wonders makes an appearance.
- Fire and Water – A look at the making of Lake-town’s destruction, the iconic black arrow and we see how Smaug was really killed (in CG).
- Under the Shadow of the Mountain – Mother Nature pays the cast and crew a very unexpected visit.
- In the Wake of the Dragon – Luke Evans earns the Victoria’s Cross and some extras are a little too enthusiastic.
- The Gathering of the Clouds – The filming is coming to and end and tensions flare, but things work out as a little practical joke is played on the members of the crew.
- Many Partings – If there’s one thing that these films are known for, it’s many partings. Still, as principal photography wraps – it does tend to get a bit emotional.
- The Clouds Burst – A fire stalls the shoot for a few days and the cast and crew are in good spirits.
- A Last Desperate Stand – Orlando Bloom and Ian McKellen give their final performances as Legolas and Gandalf.
- Out of the Gate – Actor Martin Freeman gives a final farewell to Middle Earth and the “little people” have a bit of fun as well.
- The Last Stage – Director Peter Jackson posts on Facebook as the entire production wraps.
- The Appendices Part 12: Here at Journey’s End – Another five hours of additional bonus content. The extras break down as follows:
Beneath the Thunder: Forging a Battle of the Five Armies – This chronicles the creation of the final battle sequence, from designing the look and military tactics to carefully incorporating the digital filmmaking Segments include “A Master Plan: Long in the Making”, “On the Front Lines of a Virtual Battlefield”, and “Turning the Tide”.
The People and Denizens of Middle-earth (HD, 1:28:08)- A closer look at the casting and stage production. Segments include “Tauriel: Daughter of the Forest”, “Thranduil: The King of Wood and Stone”, and “Dain Ironfoot: Lord of the Iron Hills”.
Realms of the Third Age: From the City of Dale to the Halls of Erebor Dale, Dol Guldur and Erebor are constructed. Segments include “Dale: The City of Men”, “Dol Guldur: The Hill of Sorcery”, and “Erebor: The Lonely Mountain”.
Farewell, Friends! – Essentially as the title suggests, the fifteen year journey of this undertaking is finally done. Well, that was easy.
- Butt-Numb-a-Thon 2011 Greeting – Peter Jackson, Ian McKellen and Ain’t It Cool News on-set reporter Eric “Quint” Vespe put together a surprise birthday video for Harry Knowles.
- The Real Adam Brown – The Hobbit’s Ori, actor Adam Brown is profiled here.
- Music Video – “Rivers of Gold,” by Jed “Nori” Brophy.
- Andrew Lesnie Remembered – A tribute to the late Andrew Lesnie.
The Bottom Line
Odds are that this will be the last Hobbit movie for quite a while. All three are now available in their extended editions with hours upon hours of supplements. Sporting reference-quality audio and video specs, these are a sheer delight to behold. While the movies might not be for everyone, it’s a testament to Peter Jackson and Warner for producing such amazing discs.[/fusion_text][fusion_youtube id=”iVAgTiBrrDA” alignment=”” width=”” height=”” autoplay=”false” api_params=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” /][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]