Peter Jackson suffered a lot of criticism for splitting The Hobbit across 3 films, but The Battle of the Five Armies is arguably the movie that gains the most from having it’s own film. Whilst it does keep the tone of the first two movies, there are a lot more darker shades to the third movie over it’s predecessors. That’s not entirely surprising given it is essentially a giant battle sequence. Picking up where we left off at the end of the The Desolation of Smaug, with Bard dispatching the dragon fairly early on in proceedings, but with the dragon gone, that sets in motion an epic battle between Men, Dwarves, and Elves and Orcs.
Out of the 3 films, The Battle of the Five Armies is probably my favourite of the 3 Hobbit films, and the extra 20 minutes added to the main feature helps to flesh out the story even more. A lot of those minutes are used to add extra shots to the battle sequences, rather than entirely new scenes, which is fine, but given that Five Armies is a shorter movie than the previous two, it does make you wonder if shots were left out, purely so they can be added back in for the home DVD/Blu-ray release. One full scene which it seems odd wasn’t in the theatrical release, was the funeral of… a number of key characters (trying not to be too spoilery here!) Given we know how much Jackson likes to tug at the heart strings in his films, it seems like a odd choice, so it’s nice to see it in the extended edition. Overall, the extended edition actually improves on the theatrical release by adding in extra bits which should arguably have been there in the first place.
Along with the extended main feature, there are of course hours (and hours) of extras including the obligatory Filmakers Commentary, various behind the scenes documentaries, an in depth look at creating the extremely complex battle sequences, and a farewell to Middle Earth from the cast and crew. As with all of Jackson’s Middle Earth movies, the additional material goes in to a level of depth you rarely see in any movie home releases, and is well worth the purchase if you’re a fan of the films, or even just interested in film production.
And so, Peter Jackson’s final trip into Middle Earth comes to a close… Probably… Did anyone else see that extremely funny video Peter posted on his Facebook page about the rumours of him directing an episode of Doctor Who?… Was that a copy on The Silmarillion on his table?…