Saturday, 20 December 2014

Film Review: The Hobbit - The Battle of the Five Armies

It was Mr Click's birthday on Tuesday and so I took the day off work so we could take a trip to the mainland. Now it by complete coincidence, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies came out on the Friday before so I convinced him that what he'd really like to do for his birthday was to go to Glasgow so that we could see it in 3D during its first week in the cinemas.

Warning: Here be dragons (well, one) and SPOILERS!

I do feel like I have to say here, Mr Click enjoyed the first two Hobbit films a lot more than the Lord of the Rings films so he was more than willing to go and see the final Hobbit film for his birthday. But it was as much a treat for me as for him... which is why I paid for the tickets.

I was very, very thrilled to be getting to see it so soon after it came out. The last two we've had to wait to see until the beginning of January as the weather (as well as time to get off the island) has always been against us.

We managed to get into a showing in Glasgow Renfield Street Cineworld cinema, with a 3D showing at 10:40am. That meant that we had to catch the 8am ferry to get across, but we had enough time to get up to the cinema at our leisure. Having booked our tickets online, and owning our own 3D glasses meant that we saved time there as well. Quick tip: book online, it saved us about £1.60 on the tickets, plus we were able to choose our seats. I picked some right in the very centre of the cinema and they were perfect.

As for the film, where do I begin?

It was incredible. I was a little worried that it was going to feel a little bit bogged down with the battle. Considering the title is The Battle of the Five Armies, I had a feeling that there was going to be a lot of fighting in it. I wasn't wrong there. I have to admit that the battle bit of Helm's Deep is one of my least favourite bits of The Two Towers and so thought this might be similar.

It wasn't.

It didn't even occur to me until about two-thirds of the way through the film that I was basically watching one long battle movie. There was enough cutting between the Dwarves, the Elves and Humans and the bad guys, with character stuff interspersed between to keep me engaged.

I was surprised at how quickly Smaug was killed off. I was expecting him to hang around a little bit longer than he did, but I like the way it was done. It got you straight into the action and set the tone for what was to follow.

And what followed was bloody and violet. I knew what was going to happen to Fili, Kili and Thorin, but that didn't stop it from hurting when it happened. I wanted to yell at Thorin when he almost had a chance to finish off Azog but didn't. And Kili's death was made worse somehow by the fact that Tauriel grieved his death. It was a lovely, heartbreaking moment between Thranduil and Tauriel. I'd half expected them to kill Tauriel off at the same time as Kili, it would have been fitting somehow for them to both die together, and her surviving makes me wonder what happens to her next.

Mr Click's favourite bit was when the Dwarves were preparing for a siege against the Laketown people. Thorin came across Bilbo who had been playing with the Arkenstone in his pocket (side note: I'm impressed Mr Click knew what it was called, definitely shows how much more he's enjoyed The Hobbit compared to The Lord of the Rings). At this point Thorin is very suspicious of Bilbo, who then reveals he's holding an acorn that he found in Beorn's garden and which he intends to plant in his garden at home.

My favourite bit? Oh, I don't know. I loved Galadriel kicking butt at Dol Guldur. I knew that it was Galadriel who torn it down, according to the appendices of The Lord of the Rings. I'm so pleased that they let her be the hero in that scene. Though I have to confess, Saruman did a pretty good job too.

Oh and Billy Connolly of course. He's basically just himself, riding a big pig, with a ginger mohawk and going round nutting goblins to take them down. I hope that the extended addition includes more of him!

There were loads of lovely little nods to things that are still to come in The Lord of the Rings films. Thranduil tells Legolas to go and find a young ranger by the name of Aragorn; Saruman tells the others to leave Sauron to him; the ending of them film ends with Old!Bilbo back home in Bag End just as Gandalf comes calling. It's a lovely little bookend with the first film.

It's a long film, though not as long as the other two, long enough that after drinking most of my large drink in the cinema, I was bursting for the loo. I spent the last twenty minutes with my legs crossed because I didn't want to miss a minute of it. I've read online that the extended edition will restore about thirty minutes to the film. I can't wait to see what gets added in.

It was also worth seeing in 3D. It works really well and there were a couple of bits where it actually made me jump when something appears to pop out of the screen. Would it be just as enjoyable without the 3D? Yes, probably, but I'm still glad that I saw it in 3D first, if only for the novelty value.

Oh, and the music. They could not have picked a better person to sing The Last Goodbye than Billy Boyd. It's so sad to think that this is Peter Jackson's last foray into Middle-earth, but I can't think of a better way to end it. Try not to tear up a little bit when you listen to it.

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