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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Adventures > Swords > Battles > Sequel > Epic > Literature > The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (2014/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (2014/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)

Picture: A-/B Sound: A/B+ Extras: C Film: B

Well elves, dwarfs, trolls, and hobbits; there you have it, the final film in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit series. As a notoriously drawn out film series, the three Hobbit films gave the world a final (?) look into the world established by the late, great JRR Tolkien. The three Lord of the Rings films will stand among some of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time; in my opinion acting as one cohesive entity. The Hobbit series is an aside; something fans demanded, something Peter Jackson and only Peter Jackson was to do (even after all the legal battles), but something that did not need to be three films.

It is obvious that the studio wanted to recapture the success of the Lord of the Rings films, but each of the novels those films were adapted from were longer than The Hobbit; yet they only needed one film each. Jackson's argument (besides covering for the studio) was that if this was going to be the end and his last chance to take a stab at the world of Tolkien, he was going to do everything and anything. That is to say much of the side stories in the three films are NOT from The Hobbit, but rather from Tolkien's appendices. It was admirable for Jackson to put so much time and effort into the film series; but assuredly something that only needed two films. This takes us to the review of The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. The film was amazingly fun, engrossing, and I can never have enough Lord of the Rings; but rather than being that epic finale (like that of Return of the King) the film seemed to put it all out there, but sadly fizzled out by the end.

The film picks up directly where the second left off, with Smaug the Dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) terrorizing the land and the dwarves attempting to take back what is 'rightfully theirs.' Here we are lead into the [SPOILER ALERT] death of Smaug and subsequent claim to the gold and mountain by dwarves, humans, elves, and Orcs. The characters that we have been so invested in (especially Bilbo and Gandolf) all become a side note to the on screen battle and action. And sadly, what the side stories they do focus on (like a nonsense love triangle), audiences could not care less about.

The film is beautiful. The battles are crazy and extensive. And the set design and cinematography are out of this world. But again this third installment feels more obligatory than heartfelt; as it completes another trilogy and links up with The Lord of the Rings.

I think Peter Jackson was exhausted at this point. His heart was there but, like audiences, breathed a sigh of relief and muttering 'it's finally done. It's over. I made it through.'

The technical features on this 2D Blu-ray release of The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies is stunningly well done, just like the previous two films. I will say (once again) that the films were meant for the high frame rate (48fps HD), 3D format and look better in 3D (also available in a separate Blu-ray set); but, nevertheless, are near demo quality in standard 2D as well. The picture is presented in a marvelous 1080p, AVC encoded, MPEG-4, 2.40 X 1 aspect ratio. The colors are spot on, the blacks are inky, black, and bold and the detail is amazing as you can see every wrinkle, hair, and texture. The films slowly transitioned a darker hue as the story progressed from An Unexpected Journey to Battle of Five Armies. Whereas An Unexpected Journey is very bright (something I took issue with) Five Armies is much darker; though nowhere near the level of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The Red Epic Camera System used for this film (and its predecessors) gives the film its amazing details and textures; giving the film a layer of depth and distance unlike many others. There are a few issues here and there with aliasing and minor other gripes; but in the end an excellent presentation. The sound is a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio (MA) 7.1 mix that is superbly engulfing as the viewer is thrown into the heart of the action. If the title alone wasn't enough, I assure you this is an action film where the expansive battle scenes are front and center. The sound is spot on with crisp, clean dialogue, booming bass, solid prioritization and panning, and an overall presence that is admirable to say the least.

The DVD and Digital copy are merely downgrades of the demo quality Blu-ray presentation.

The extras leave something to be desired as many are not available and what is presented is very brief. Extras include:

  • New Zealand: Home of Middle Earth - Part 3

    • Very short look at the various locations used in the film

  • Recruiting the Five Armies

  • A Six Part Saga

  • 'The Last Goodbye': Behind the Scenes

  • A Seventeen Year Journey

  • Music Video

  • Trailer

- Michael P. Dougherty II


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