The epic conclusion to Jackson’s bloated Hobbit trilogy delivers rousing spectacle, insufficient character development and stunning visual effects, capping off the Middle Earth saga in fine style. Although beset with a number of problems drawn out of a shorter running time, and uneven character development for Thorin, and an utter waste of the other dwarves which, to date, have been central to the story, The Battle Of The Five Armies (ugh, what a mouthful of “the’s”) is a thoroughly entertaining blockbuster that will have you laughing, clapping and cheering for more.
Rousing spectacle overrides many – but not all – of the flaws encountered in the previous instalment; Desolation is a more adventurous and epic film in many respects, delivering earth-shaking action with Smaug, some minor humor with the dwarves, and setting up the climactic third film to come. Desolation Of Smaug has a number of memorable moments, and will undoubtedly be a cracker on BluRay in years to come, and even though one can still argue for Jackson throwing in all available material into this relatively simple story, he stages the prodoction magnificently, papering over any flaws with dynamite film style and an adherence to one crucial blockbuster rule: keep people entertained.
After about forty minutes of Dwarvish “comedy” in Bilbo’s hobbit-hole, which sounds more like a euphemism than I anticipated, An Unexpected Journey starts to drag. The film takes an age to get going, with Jackson seemingly slavish to the literary foundations Tolkien established. Once this journey does kick off, however, the film gains momentum and maintains it until the very end – there’s battles, chases, monsters and some good-natured humor, all bringing a light-hearted feel to Middle Earth instead of “let’s throw the Ring into the pit of Mordor” we’re used to. An Unexpected Journey isn’t without pacing problems, and you can feel the bloated story starting to stretch the seams of audience acceptance, but overall, I welcome this return to Middle Earth and can’t wait to see the next installment.