The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in 3D IMAX – The DVDfever cinema review

The Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies takes us back into J.R.R. Tolkein‘s Middle Earth for the final time. The poster hypes this entry as being “The Definining Chapter” – it’s not, it’s just the last one.

The film begins with Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) travelling towards Laketown to blow it apart with fire – which you know is going to happen, whether you’ve read it in the book or simply by knowing that, at the end of part 2, the dragon was heading in that direction. That is an amazing sight to see, particularly in 48fps HFR, but for a long time after that, an awful lot of not-a-lot happens. Then, the battle in the title begins around halfway through the film and never really ends. It’s an amazing spectacle, but as they say – less is more. Okay, so this film is shorrter – 144 minutes long compared to Part 1’s 169 minutes and Part 2’s 161 minutes – but the whole affair could easily have been cut down to two films, not least by cutting out much of the singing in the first film.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies centres mostly on Thorin (Richard Armitage), Bard (Luke Evans), Kili (Aidan Turner – whose character seems to have perked up quickly since suffering from man-flu for most of The Desolation of Smaug), Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly – not bad for a character who was never in the original novel, Legoland… sorry, Legolas (I can’t help it… played by Orlando Bloom) and Thranduil (Lee Pace).

There’s also a nice cameo from Billy Connolly as Thorin’s brother, Dain, who greets all other armies with a broad, deep distinctly Scottish, “Would you all mind sodding off?”


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Suprisingly, Martin Freeman‘s character, Bilbo Baggins, feels like a passenger in this for most of the time, while Ian McKellen, as Gandalf, has even less to do, so the two of them really shouldn’t have top billing, and certainly not in comparison to Armitage and Evans, as Thorin and Bard respectively.

I did feel events were a bit daft at one point, which I’ll tag with a spoiler:

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Another point that stood out was that characters only started speaking subtitled Elvish when they were annoyed, even changing back to English, mid-conversation, with the same people!

All that said, while the big battle starts off with a load of banging and clanging of swords and shields, it segments off into great show-pieces including a battle with Azog (Manu Bennett), the Orc King, and another battle involving Legolas on a collapsing brick bridge (of sorts) where, as the bricks fell, he was using them to get leverage to climb back up – this is physically impossible. He may as well have been flying. Still, it did make for an amusing moment and the film was certainly lacking in humour most of the time.

Go to page 2 for thoughts on the 48fps HFR filming process and conclusions about the film, and click on the poster for the full-sized image.


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Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.


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