The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Those of the mind to see the final chapter of Peter Jackson's fairly bloated staging of Tolkien's The Hobbit must come to peace with the film being good but not great (by Jackson's standards), too "spectacular" by half and an unblinking bore in the final reel. Jackson and his team of screenwriters have hammered a decent screen narrative but the core struggle of one man's, er, dwarf's battle with his inner demons is overwhelmed by too much swordplay and an irritating clownish hamming. As Thorin, the British actor Richard Armitage has three or four solid Macbethian moments as his greed for the golden riches within the mountain chambers once guarded by the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) turns him ever more indifferent toward his kin and paranoid. But once the dragon is defeated, the former flotsam of Middle Earth come a-knocking. Thorin's  moments of introspection are replaced by the Sturm und Drang that both of Jackson's trilogies have centered around, that is, scads of indistinguishable grotesqueries battling on one side against the scrubbed beauty of the Elves, led by the effete but deadly Thranduil (Lee Pace), his son Legolas (Orlando Bloom also of the Lord of the Rings trilogy) and the dashing she-elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly of Lost) and on the other by the hapless though hearty forces of mortal men, led by the archer Bard (Luke Evans). As always Ian McKellen's Gandalf is on hand to dole out wisdom and crack a few skulls with his staff and Martin Freeman's amiable Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit of the title, provides ample heart to help keep the magical mayhem grounded.  Recommended.


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