Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Well, he's right on that, at least. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is exactly that, which is perhaps why it makes for a better title than the originally planned 'There and Back Again'. The film is basically one long battle scene (with a few scenes' welcome exposition) featuring five armies, though whom isn't made especially clear, and why, even less so. That will sound only to the dwindling die-hards like a glorious proposition; to others, it will sound torturous. With so very much fighting in Peter Jackson's final visit to Middle Earth (or so we presume), it'd be cruel to dismiss it entirely, even if the creative impulse to extend it to such a duration can be very swiftly reproached. In truth, Jackson's battles gratifyingly go out of their way not to depict senseless carnage, instead stressing character and narrative elements and some stylistic and spatial ingenuity. Jackson's own style, his interpretation of stock cinematic language, is fairly basic, but it's effective even at its crudest - he displays a commitment throughout that's unusually easy to admire. Heavy concessions are made to those who've found the other The Hobbit films lacking in The Lord of the Rings' intoxicating pomp; sadly, Jackson's ambition has quite comprehensively gutted the naivety that helped to make those films the thrilling classics that they are. The Battle of the Five Armies is also disappointingly light on its strongest qualities, such as compelling characters and storylines. I remain a believer in 48fps technology, but not in its application here, since it drains Andrew Lesnie's compositions of their grandeur and fails to mark these fantasy visuals as solid, palpable structures. You can't see each pixel, but you can feel each one, and it feels artificial. It's small wonder that the die-hards are dwindling.