DVD review: Hobbit 3: Battle of the Five Armies - it's been a wild ride

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 March, 2015, 10:57pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 March, 2015, 10:57pm

The Hobbit 3: The Battle of the Five Armies
Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, John Bell
Director: Peter Jackson

Take a deep breath before venturing into Middle-earth for the final instalment of Peter Jackson's epic: you'll need the extra air because the director immediately throws you into the action, almost as though he's in a mad rush to put the whole exercise behind him and move on.

And who can blame him? Jackson's connection with the work of J.R.R. Tolkien dates back to the first Lord of the Rings episode in 2001 and the effort has reaped Jackson Academy Awards and untold personal riches.

Unfortunately, The Hobbit 3 doesn't really offer anything new. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is even pushed out of focus as we follow the trials and tribulations of the band of dwarves he has been travelling with.

The cast of characters is so vast by now that it'll stretch the memory of anyone who has not read the source material recently or even those of us who have been relying on Jackson's yearly updates to refresh us. And there's also a sense of sameness as the exercise builds towards the final showdown with the forces of darkness, a legacy of the high standards set by Jackson from the outset.

But despite all those gripes, The Hobbit 3 is still completely entertaining, a swirling storm of visual effects and high drama. Jackson lets his cameras fly high over the New Zealand landscape again, throwing you in and out of the action as the five armies gather and our heroes prepare to meet their fate.

Freeman and Ian McKellen as Gandalf are so comfortable with their roles, after playing them for so long, they almost feel like old friends. You may even feel a tiny tinge of regret when they part at the film's end, knowing we will probably never see them again.

It's been a majestic and masterful achievement by Jackson and his team, a creative output to rival any recorded in cinema history. And it's been a wild ride all the way through.

Extras: Recruiting the Five Armies; Completing Middle-earth; The Last Goodbye: Behind the Scenes; The Last Goodbye Music Video; New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth; Part 3 featurettes