What can be more festive than another Tolkein/Jackson film? I remember when I first saw The Fellowship of the Ring on a cold winters night in East London; the first night of its global release, I knew I was one of the first people in the world to watch it. I had never read The Lord of the Rings, but I had read The Hobbit, which was a jolly adventure romp of a book. Three hours later, sufficiently blown away, in those pre-Facebook days, I sent expensive text messages back to Cebu, text shouting “U MST WACH DIS MVIE!” This was a cinematic event, and it is only this year that magnificent magic finally ends.
The Final Film: Plot
The Battle of the Five Armies is the third of what were really wonderful Hobbit films. Smaug, the scary dragon guarding the treasure in the lonely mountain, must be killed by Frodo and his mates. However, more people than just Smaug want the mountain’s bling, and five armies meet in an epic battle that will test the depths of sinful greed and the heights of human(oid) friendship.
Peter Jackson does not skimp on the detailed delights for the fans that he brought to his previous films, and they were as adventurous and whimsical as they needed to be. The Desolation of Smaug was especially good fun, with elves fighting orcs chasing dwarves hunting dragons. Even Jackson’s add-ons to the films (the romance) were welcome because they were done in a joyful yet reverent spirit. While the dialogue of the smoochy bits remained a bit stilted (Evangeline Lilly as wooden as eve), they were helped by the shining charisma of Aidan Turner as Kili, who fulfills his televisual promise of his successful BBC shows.
Give It Up for Frodo
But what makes The Hobbitses so successful, and even better than the original three films, is that these centre around a really loveable character. Martin Freeman did what Martin Freeman always does, bringing to life an everyman that you can cheer on and even admire. Freeman’s everymen are not simple blank slates from which the more colourful characters can bounce jokes; instead he brings back a melancholic, depressive note to his protagonists that play up the unfairness of life. His woe-is-me frown is actually incredibly funny and touching at the same time. Perhaps there is no one funnier than the misanthrope who can rarely see the transcendent in their lives. I feel for you, Martin.
Weak Narrative but a Strong Visual Flourish for a Last Hoorah
Admittedly The Battle of the Five Armies is the weakest of the bunch, but just think of it as the bow for the two lovely presents you received over the last two years. This is a cinematic display of gorgeous special effects and imaginative actions sequences going bonkers with swords, arrows and magic. Watch the first two films immediately beforehand if you can, so that the affection that the characters garnered in the those movies can effectively give life to the perils of action experienced in this film. For it to stand alone is for it to fall apart, but it is the final piece of a very majestic puzzle.