It’s taken 13 years and 5 films to “close the circle” (as some might say). In all fairness, 13 years ago we weren’t to know that J.R.R. Tolkien’s children’s book was to be inflated to some 474 minutes of cinematic running time. And let us not forget that doesn’t even take into account the obligatory “Extended Editions” which are made available come Blu-ray release time. To put it into perspective – and because I like a stat now and again – 3 films from a book that runs to 481,103 words and another 3 films from a book with 95,356 words (figures courtesy of http://lotrproject.com/statistics/books/wordscount).
But I’m not complaining; I love the Middle-earth Peter Jackson has created. The continuity of look garnered from a set of films made by the same creative minds feeds that sense of wonder I experience when dipping a toe into not just Tolkien’s, but (possibly justifiably) Jackson’s Middle-earth. And that is to take nothing away from Alan Lee and John Howe, two artists famous for their work based on Middle-earth and recruited by Jackson to infuse his films with “quintessential Tolkien”. My point is this. Hollywood is always clamouring for a new franchise and one based on any series of (semi) successful books will fit the bill. Potter, Twilight, Games; the concluding tomes of each series have been split to support the production of two films, with varying success. To describe the first Mockingjay offering as padded would be an understatement.
So why not take a very successful and hugely popular book and split that cash cow three ways? I think it is the strength of the writing team of Jackson, Boyens, Walsh and del Toro that have expanded the Middle-earth created in The Hobbit to a point where 3 films are justifiable. Tolkien’s canon runs its critical path through the narrative (as it should) with Jackson and Co’s embellishments adorning it. We are taken along the necessary highs and lows of the Dwarven company’s (mis)adventures, bowled along by spectacle and moments alike. This is Jackson at his pomp and no better defined than during the final third of the Battle of the Five Armies. I’ve read The Hobbit, but was still invested in its viewing to the extent that I forgot what was supposed to come next. If there is one criticism of this particular chapter it must be the lack of screen time for Martin Freeman. As Elijah Wood made Frodo his own so does Freeman of Bilbo. An already good film is elevated further every time he is on screen. There is a succinctness and brevity to his Bilbo that feels absolutely perfect and I for one cannot wait to see what Mr. Freeman does next.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a fitting end to The Hobbit and an appropriate final piece to Peter Jackson’s interpretation of the journeys undertaken by Bilbo and Frodo.
Thank you for reading 🙂