Farewell, Middle Earth

A+regular+Hobbit+fanatic+relaxes+with+his+favorite+book.
A regular Hobbit fanatic relaxes with his favorite book.

A regular Hobbit fanatic relaxes with his favorite book.

Harry Kahn

Harry Kahn

A regular Hobbit fanatic relaxes with his favorite book.

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As an avid and slavishly devoted Lord of the Rings fan, I had only the highest expectations for the third and final feature of the Hobbit series, Battle of Five Armies.  To my earthly amazement, I was not disappointed.  In fact, I am elated to report that Peter Jackson, the director of both the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Trilogies, has yet again delivered another Middle Earth epic masterpiece.   J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world has always been celebrated for its inventive fantasy and creative brilliance.  In my view, in Battle of Five Armies, Jackson delivers a cinematographic masterpiece which brings these elements to life so effectively that he transports his audience to Middle Earth.

Personally, I had been waiting for the highly anticipated Hobbit finale since the last movie, The Desolation of Smaug,  left me and the rest of its vast viewership with a high-stakes, dragon-fueled cliffhanger.  Additionally, the last time Jackson concluded a trilogy, he not only won the Oscar for best picture, he shook the world.   The Return of the King, the third and concluding film of the LOTR series, is widely considered by the geek community as the Bible of film.  So, I had very high expectations for this finale and I made a point of going to first showing available in our small town. It made no difference that the only showtime was at ten o’clock on a Thursday night.  I finished my homework early, threw on my Gandalf beard and elf ears, and hurried to the theater an hour in advance.

From the moment I stepped into the theater, all the way the through the 144- minute-long feature, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t move a muscle.  I was totally mesmerized, and completely glued to my seat from start to finish.  The movie begins exactly where the last installment concluded.  Just as Smaug, the gigantic and horrifyingly life-like dragon, descends onto the poor citizens of Laketown.  From here, viewers are reintroduced to the familiar, elegantly depicted, and strangely relatable cast of characters.  Bard the Brave, Gandalf the Wise, and of course, the surreptitiously conniving, ring-bearing hobbit hero, Bilbo Baggins.  I felt like I was greeting old friends.

Some critics have slammed Battle of Five Armies for dishing out two and a half hours of unrelenting violence. I simply do not agree. Much of the subtle magic that pervaded the previous Middle Earth films exists in this most recent one.  The dwarfish king Thorin Oakenshield had an intrinsic battle with himself, revealing his underlying humanistic flaws and hubris.  This is just one example of the constantly interesting character development sustained throughout the film.  Another entertaining aspect of the film was the quirky, unexpected love triangle between wood-elf captain Tauriel, elven royal Legolas, and dwarf-adventurer Kil.  Every minute of magical bloodshed was balanced by riveting plot development, and creative complexity.

An additional captivating element of this film was the value of the special effects.  While watching the film, each of the creatures really pop out in a unique way. Thanks to the special effects experts behind this film, each of these unbelievable creatures seem to come to life.  From the huge and furious red dragon Smaug’s incinerating temper tantrum, to the hook-armed, pale orc leader Azog’s one-on-one battle with Dwarf king Thorin, special effects are vivid and certainly a highlight of the film.  By the end of the film, as the five armies of varied creatures converge, it’s hard to root for any one side.  Except for the orcs.  The orcs are never very cool.

Also, as usual in Middle Earth, the musical score is momentous and powerful.  Provided by Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore, it adds an epic undertone to the movie, and seems to almost encourage the characters as they heroically behead orcs by the thousands.

Regardless of all the extrinsic visual and musical special effects, the Hobbit films are so enthralling because they are a beautiful escape from reality.  Tolkien’s alternate world is portrayed with utter authenticity and delight.  Middle Earth is both extremely good, and extremely evil. In this way, it is also inversely a reflection of the society we live in.  This is undoubtedly part of the appeal. This world is also shrouded in mystery.  In every corner lurks some sort of wrinkled, old magical recluse or gigantic man-eating spider.  The forests aren’t only figuratively alive in Middle Earth, the trees are are actually moving around and talking.  When you sit down and watch one of these films, you are temporarily transported into this fantastical place where seemingly anything is possible.  Jackson does an incredible job recreating Tolkien’s vision and bringing it to life on screen.  As sorry as I am to see this series come to a conclusion, I am totally satisfied with Battle of Five Armies.  I wholeheartedly recommend this movie to anyone searching for a vigorous buzz of action-packed, exciting entertainment, or even to `anyone seeking a little bit of magic and imagination in their life.

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