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   Movie Reviews: The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
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Studio:
     Warner Bros. (2 hr. 24 min.)
Plot:
     The third and final in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit trilogy.
Cast:
     Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom, Cate Blanchett
Rating:
     PG-13
Bottom Line:
     ***1/2

Coverage:
by
Laurence Washington

I haven’t read “The Hobbit,” so I really can’t speak with authority on the wonderful job director Peter Jackson did stretching a slim book into a trilogy. However, word on the street is, he did a pretty good job extending the material. I can tell you, however, Jackson honed a wonderful movie into our last visit to Middle-Earth.

“The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies” is more direct and linear than the pervious pictures. “Armies” picks up where “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” leaves off. Because the dwarfs and sawed-off Bilbo (Martin Freeman) are after the gold in Erebor, Smaug, pissed off, lets the villagers know what it feels like to become a charcoal briquette.

But at last Smaug gets “the point” so to speak, and the mountains of gold coins and baubles the dragon was guarding are up for grabs attracting every greedy elf, dwarf and of course orc in the vicinity. After all, what would a Hobbit movie be without orcs? You know what a fun-loving, head-chopping group of misfits orcs are. They just raise the whole level of the film.

Taking a cue from Bogey in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” dwarf leader Thorin (Richard Armitage) becomes blinded by greed and refuses to share the gold with the elves and the homeless villagers burned out by Smaug.

The CGI of course is spectacular, and Jackson never lets the technology upstage the humor and humanity of the story. If left in lesser hands, the results might have been the opposite. Jackson directs the traffic so well, “Armies” ending dovetails nicely into “Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”

As with all the Jackson Middle-Earth films, “Armies” runs a tad too long with the usual false endings that might chafe the casual moviegoer squirming in their seat. In fact, Jackson lets you out 30 minutes earlier than his other films, which is good news. Maybe that’s why “Armies” is probably my favorite Middle-Earth movie.

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