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REVIEW- The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

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The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, the final installment in the Hobbit trilogy, starts where the second movie left off, right as the Smaug the dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch) flies out of his cave to terrorize a village. Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and some of the Dwarves get separated from Thorin. The story splits and follows each group as they deal with a series of escalating problems.  

 

Freeman, Britain’s great everyman, is the steadfast Hobbit, who’s been recruited by Gandalf for the quest of Thorin (Richard Armitage) and his band of Dwarves. They have to work together with the Elvish to fight those evil and ugly Orcs. The politics of all the creatures is one of the fun aspects of the story. The Elves are beautiful, ageless and smug. The Dwarves are brave, brawny, and loyal. They all in turn, underestimate the Hobbit. As they near the conclusion of the story, Bilbo and the Dwarves bicker like family.

 

In addition to the action, there is a sweet but awkward love triangle between Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Tauriel the Elf (Evangeline Lilly), and Kili (the tall, handsome dwarf played by Aidan Turner). Tauriel is feisty, strong, independent and too busy protecting folks to worry about the cute guys. Since the series is so heavily masculine, she’s a great foil.

 

Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf, as does Luke Evans in the role of Bard- one of the humans who gets pulled into the quest, putting his family at risk. Familiar faces from the Lord of the Rings trilogy make an appearance including Elrond (Hugo Weaving), Saruman (Christopher Lee), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett).

 

As Legolas’ father, Thranduil, Lee Pace sports an elfin wig/contact combo resembling Lucius Malfoy (this role creates some confusion, as Bloom is actually two years older than Pace). Thranduil is precise and controlled, but both Bloom and Lilly’s characters resist their heritage, and get mixed up in some nice hand-to-hand action sequences.

 

The pace of The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies is better than its predecessor. The bigger battle scenes with the build up dread, but are overwhelming and go on far too long. The special effects are uneven – the CGI of particular creatures looks authentic, but there were times where Bilbo looked as if he was dropped into frame. The movie is fun in 3-D, but not a requirement.

 

The love between friends and family resonates, giving life to this tale for nearly 80 years. The power of this story lies in the quiet moment between characters, as they hesitate before taking that brave step, which takes them on a journey and transforms them into heroes.

 

Warning: While the Dwarves are bludgeoning bad guys, there are a lot of decapitations, but the main violence remains off camera, which earns it a PG-13 rating.

 


 

Contact Diane Cooney at dcooney@philly2philly.com

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Photo credit: www.vcpost.com