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Battle of the Five Armies – opening press reviews


What follows is a selection of excerpts from some of the major press reviews on the opening day of the final Hobbit film.

All these reviews appeared in UK newspapers on 12th December 2014.

Daily Star, Review by Alan Frank, p. 41 [5 stars]:

Superb special effects and fine 3D create wild warriors and enjoyably scary creatures of the imagination, like the hideous orcs and even nastier creations that the five armies come up against in battle.

Ian McKellen brandishes his beard and his wisdom and Christopher Lee and Cate Blanchett briefly battle for good in a fabulous film.

The Independent, review by Geoffrey MacNab, p. 44 [4 stars]:

In its sweep and brio, The Battle of the Five Armies makes up for the tentative beginnings of the trilogy. This is the pay-off. It’s a tremendous cinematic spectacle… All of those years after he first started making The Lord of the Rings films, the director still retains his sense of wonder about Tolkien’s universe. That’s why in spite of all the longueurs and mis-steps along the way, he is able to round off The Hobbit with such a big bang.

Daily Telegraph, review by Tim Robey, p. 31:

There are bright spots. Christopher Lee doing Kung Fu is great, and the last third is rescued by a crumbling citadel set-piece…When the dwarf leader Thorin (Richard Armitage) imagines drowning in molten gold, Jackson’s pet message that Greed is Bad resounds. At 6ft 2in, Armitage must be the tallest actor ever to play a dwarf. The film is the opposite: a paragraph on steroids.

The Sun, review by Alex Zane, p. 54 [4 stars]:

Once the battle starts, this is a movie of powerful moments. If there’s a fault, it’s that as Jackson fights to resolve numerous characters’ stories, these moments don’t add up to make an entirely satisfying whole. Individually however, they remind us of how well Jackson can stage an action sequence or bring a tear to the eye. All told it’s been quite a journey and – if this really is the end – Jackson leaves Middle-earth a great cinematic legacy that will be cherished for years to come.

Daily Mail, Review by Brian Viner, pp. 50-1 [4 stars]:

J R R Tolkien can rest in peace, at long last. Peter Jackson has finally stopped adapting The Hobbit, having eked out 300-odd pages into three monumental films…

This is film-making at its most spectacular, with more wizardry wrought by the visual effects department, and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, than even by Gandalf the Grey (Ian Mckellen)….But for those of us who found even The Hobbit [the book] a struggle, Jackson has turned the words to remarkably vibrant life – not to mention box-office gold to seduce even a modest hobbit, let alone an ambitious dwarf.

The Times, review by Kate Muir [4 stars]:

For Hobbit and Ring fans, this is the most satisfying end to a cinematic adventure that started in 2001 with The Return of the King [sic] and a moment to admire the advances Jackson has made with green-screen CGI and battle choreography. For me, the films and books have been part of my (now-grown) sons’ lives, like the previous Harry Potter series, and I’m sad – and also a little relieved – to see them end. The film’s final shot, too, of the map frontispiece of the original book, took me back to first reading The Hobbit aged 12, in the days before Middle-earth conquered the world through Jackson’s imagination.

Morning Star, review by Jeff Sawtell [3 stars]:

the latest in the franchise will obviously appeal to fans because, despite the creative narrative licence, the film at least stays true to the book’s conclusion when Bilbo arrives back in Bag End. Yet, there’s a hint that the story’s not over, which is very possible given the fact that most of the film includes characters who never had a literary incarnation.

About the Author: Michael Flowers
I am a self-employed wildlife guide. I take people to beautiful places to learn about their local nature. I've been reading Tolkien from the age of 9, and have recently become interested in Tolkien's time in East Yorkshire during WW1. I completed a Masters degree from the University of Sheffield in the Victorian Ghost Stories of Ellen [Mrs Henry] Wood.