|Martin Freeman appears as Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies|
A Long Way To, and From, Return Of The King
At long last, we are met with the conclusion of Peter Jackson's sweeping epic fantasy inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit". Arguably the darkest entry of the series, Peter Jackson trades lengthy scenes of dialogue and tension-building for two hours of flat-out action. This may or may not be for you.
It's as though Peter Jackson couldn't wait to unleash all he had built up in the first two films. More than two-thirds of the movie is spent on the battlefield. Very little time is spent on character development; it is assumed that we've seen the first two films, we know who's involved and what they're after. Virtually nothing new is introduced to keep the movie's rapid-fire pace moving. To provide an example, this is the only one of the six films that actually opens in an action sequence.
This sequel could almost be a standalone; the events of the last film are pretty much wrapped up within the first ten minutes. A new antagonist reveals itself, and the only way to resolve new issues is to have every army in Middle Earth wage war against each other. While fun, very little thinking is involved while watching. You strap in and hold on.
Martin Freeman brings Bilbo Baggins full circle in this outing. He turns a sheltered, timid Hobbit into a fledgling warrior no longer afraid to fight beside--or stand against--his allies. His is easily the best performance of the film.
The action sequences are breathless and harrowing. Peter Jackson has come a long way from the battles of Return of the King; he uses less cuts, thus leaving you squarely in the center of the calamity. These are not battles of triumphant heroes and the light outfighting the darkness; this is the darkness encroaching, the protagonists desperate and consistently on the verge of being overrun, leaving you gripping the arms of your chair as you wait to see who will and will not survive.
Beyond a ham-handed segue way into the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, a feeble attempt at a morality tale at the end and Orlando Bloom appearing far too old to be in a prequel role, very little is wrong with this movie.
I enjoyed this film from its fiery, violent opening to its righteous, bittersweet conclusion. Battle of the Five Armies wraps up the Hobbit in good fashion and leaves you feeling as though the story is, at last, complete.