The end of the beginning is here, writes Matt Adcock.
Prepare for fiery death, sumptuous fantasy lore and high drama as Peter ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Jackson brings his last Tolkien-’em-up, The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies to the big screen.
It’s been a lavish big budget and satisfying ride – kicking off with the delightful An Unexpected Journey and following up with last year’s Dragon-tastic The Desolation Of Smaug.
Here we have the conclusion which packs a handy plot synopsis in its title as the Battle of the Five Armies takes centre stage.
Kicking off straight away from the end of the last film, we get to see the fearsome dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) bring hot destruction to the poor people of Lake Town.
But no sooner has the (plot spoiler) big lizard been vanquished by strapping heroic Bard (Luke Evans) then all kinds of chaos breaks out as the lust for his now ownerless dragon hoard of gold attracts many interested parties.
First up the dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), the humans with Bard as their main man, the fabulous elves under the command of Thranduil (Lee Pace) and let’s not forget to mention the dastardly orcs who have the grievous Azog who comes to wipe out all the rest.
OK that’s four armies right there, so throw in some air support eagles led by wizardy Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy) and we’re game on for over an hour of impressive CGI total carnage.
Also caught up in the violent melee are obviously titular hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman – who really nails this role here), fan favourite Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) and foxy battle elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly, who is in forbidden love with one of the dwarves).
Plus Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Saruman (Christopher Lee) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett). It’s like a huge LOTR pre-party!
Everything crackles with nerdy Tolkien attention to detail, the orcs are nastier than ever, the fights more violent and the peril ramped up as high as it can be (because as this is prequel land we know whose definitely gonna make it).
Sadly ‘Battle’ still suffers from the same shallowness that has haunted all the Hobbit films when compared to the masterful ‘actual’ Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
But there is a ton to love here and if you’ve taken the hobbit journey so far – you’ll need to see it through to the satisfying end.