The Hobbit – Battle of the Five Armies: review
The Battle of the Five Armies is as heroic and magnificent as any of the rest of the LOTR/Hobbit series has been. The continuity of the look, cast, quality, sound and overall flavor of these movies is refreshing for a series, and part of what I, and my family and friends, have come to like about them. Just as the books were all written by the same man, these movies are all ‘of a piece’, and as such do they keep stunning us with their beauty and thrilling us with their power, pace and force.
To get to the bits, the story is nonpariel, and well known, thus making it quite a burden. But the acceptance it got in the late 1960’s is its strength, and that audience is not going away, it’s going to the movies – in millions. I’m part of that, and always have been, though I had no idea when I was reading them in high school (yup! Professor, crank up the wayback machine!) that: 1. we were the first generation to really accept and massively read those books, or 2. that they would be so durable and inspirational. Never mind that Zep put out a song or two about Hobbit-ish themes, it was never apparent that they would be lasting, either. So wrong on both counts, so glad to have been a fan of both from way back then!
The script was well made, and kept true to Tolkien’s drawing of the characters and crafting of the action. That the author was an Oxford don in the subject of English, wherein he concentrated his own efforts on much of the Celtic folklore that connected him to the civilization at the dawn of English history. The epic battles which seem to consume many of the books echo the Anglo Saxon literature which foreshadowed them, and which he translated, edited and commented upon. Such tales overflow with loyalty, duty and bravery being the main virtues by which men and majesties were remembered.
Modern cinematographic technology has made it possible to render these stories in great detail and high quality, and all of these films have been masterfully crafted by Director Peter Jackson and Cinematographer Andrew Lesnie. The benefits of a stable team have been shown by the exceedingly high quality of the results.
Modern tech is certainly what these films needed, what with goblins, dragons, eagles and other flying warriors, earth eaters, goblins, trolls and giant spiders, along with chariot-pulling rabbits, mountain goats mounted by dwarves, and all sorts of other beings, not to mention spectral phenomena. Even now, the movies stretched the technological limits of the most capable teams in the world. That they met the challenges inherent in these productions speaks of the money available, true. But it all stems from the riveting and inspiring nature of the original written works, and reminds us of the true greatness that was J.R.R. Tolkien.
The acting and characterizations are fine, sometimes exemplary, which is great to see. Often the talent is tempted to phone in their work when cast on such a famous piece as these, but never has the director allowed that to happen. I actually find some of the characters pretty inspiring! Their costumes, makeup and armoring are pretty awesome, completing the fantasy and spectacle.
Sets, along with the magnificence of New Zealand’s mountainous settings, are fabulous and fantastic, as well they must be for these epic stories. All in all, these movies are put together and filmed beautifully. In the past, I’ve enjoyed watching them at home, but only when the big screen versions were not available. Upon any release or re-release, I’ve been down there to enjoy the full scale of the sights and sounds as only the large hall can bring them!
I have seen that this film has unleased a couple of controversies around the webian community: the possibility of a movie about the Silmarillion, and the music of the stories which may have come from their creator. That reminded me that I have a record of Tolkien reciting poetry that he had written for the Hobbit and the Fellowship of the Ring.
I had never thought that the recording was so rare as people’s discussions indicated, but when I read all over the web that people were saying he never composed songs for the stories, it brought the recording (now transcribed to computer disc) to my mind. A review of it showed that it’s correct to say there’s no music, but there is the music of his poetry, and the sound of the master’s voice rendering the tales.