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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

GeekRex Quick Take - The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Review

The Buzz: More than a decade after Peter Jackson turned Middle Earth into a worldwide cinematic phenomenon and two years after he burned a few bridges splitting small children's book The Hobbit into a trilogy, Jackson is back one last (?) time with the epic, action-packed conclusion. The installment promises some of the biggest action ever seen on Middle Earth and an epilogue that brings it all back together with the much-loved original trilogy. But can he stretch a single page of text into a satisfying feature-length film?

What's Great About the Movie: After nearly 1 billion dollars and three full films, Peter Jackson has finally produced one truly great scene in The Hobbit: Galadriel's exorcism of the Necromancer. Everything else involving the Necromancer doesn't work, particularly the ridiculous CGI ghost fight, but when Galadriel goes face to face with the Necromancer, Jackson drops the overly-literal special effects and opts for a trippy sequence that wouldn't feel out of place in a low-budget '80s version of the story, and it's absolutely gorgeous. It's damn near the only scene in the film that works, but it's gorgeous. Jackson always had a talent for portraying magic organically in these movies, and this scene is his best by far.

What's Not-So-Great About the Movie: Literally everything else. Of the film's 2 hour and 24 minute runtime, I'd be shocked if more than 30 minutes of it was not spent in combat, but Jackson's take lacks the ebb-and-flow that made the similarly epic battle in, say, Takashi Miike's 13 Assassins so relentlessly thrilling. While bits and pieces of it work, this clearly wasn't meant to serve as its own film - it is basically an effects reel pieced halfheartedly together. Particularly egregious given how little characterization is allowed for the film is Alfrid, an incompetent, greedy, malevolent fool who is nevertheless constantly trusted with important tasks by everyone around him over and over and over again for seemingly no reason. Come on, Peter Jackson: Never go full Jar-Jar.

Final Verdict

GeekRex reviews... The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
GeekRex reviews... The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
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