‘The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies’ (BOFA) is everything a high-fantasy, high-octane action movie should be: punchy, powerful, packed with twists and turns and amazing stunts (Legolas! Flying! With a Bat!!) as well as unusual moments of poignancy, coupled with nostalgia for the previous three films and the LOTR franchise in general. You get a real sense that this is, as Billy Boyd’s song in the finishing credits says, a ‘very fond farewell’, and there were many moments where I actually cried. (I say cried- I really mean sobbed into my popcorn.)
For the first time as well, I felt that the dwarf-elf budding romance between Fili and Tauriel came together as a complete whole, and became a lynchpin for some of the most emotive momentss (without giving too much away!) as well as some of the most graceful fight scenes. Certain locations, for instance the Shire, Erebor itself, really tugged at the heart strings, suggesting in their beauty (and, in terms of Erebor, the majesty imposed by spiralling staircases and vaulted, lofty ceilings) and it was nice to see the return of some of my favourite (most woefully underused!) characters in full-on battle mode- including Radagast (Sylvester McCoy) and Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt.) I mean, come on Peter Jackson, Beorn is a MAN who changes into A BEAR (!!!) and lives in a wooden hall with animal servants. Not to mention the fact that he lives off bread and honey like some macho he-man Winnie the Pooh. (And don’t we all just need more of that?)
Also, special mention goes to Thranduil, King of Mirkwood and all-round elf badass (played by Lee Pace, master of the power-eyebrow.) He fights with TWO swords! He has a brocade coat! He has long swishy hair! He rides a giant white elk for no reason! *Swoon.* Lastly, the elf-maid Tauriel (a luminous Evangeline Lily) stole a lot of scenes, not only by slicing through the testerone-fuelled energy of twelve dwarves, one guy with a bow, and one elf king with a very mean attitude, (well, she is Captain of the Guard back in good old Mirkwood after all) but also by displaying a touching tenderness behind the fighting style. She fought for those she loved, and the audience fought along with her, albeit in a completely vicarious way (of course.)
All in all, I can’t really criticize this film- in a way, I almost wish I could. But I just can’t. Jackson may have taken some serious risks with Tolkien’s material- and not all of them may have paid off- I’m thinking of YOU, ‘Sebastian the hedgehog’- but there is no denying that it comes together in the end (much like the armies themselves) for a finale that is both tear-jerking, grandiose, moving and memorable.
Overall rating- If I could give this film 11 out of 10, I would. In fact, I do. 11 out of 10. Go and see it if you still can- or, better yet, read the book.