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Tag Archive: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies


Hobbit Art & Design cover fifth volume

Review by C.J. Bunce

A wealth of concept art for The Hobbit can be found in the fifth volume of Weta’s Chronicles series: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Art & Design.  Writer and Weta artist and designer Daniel Falconer again delivers a stunning hardcover account of the behind-the-scenes artistry that forged the last of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth series.

Including much more pencil sketchwork and inspirations for the cities of The Hobbit than prior volumes, this edition showcases many designs that made it into the final film but also many that did not.  It’s those pieces that did not make it to the final cut of the film that form a rare treasure trove here.  As costume designer Bob Buck writes in he book, “The designs that were never realized are as important as the ones that were, being part of the process and representing the elimination or germination of an idea that grew into the visuals as seen on the screen.”  Buck provides valuable insight into the ideas behind many of the costumes in the film along with many other Weta designers and special effects artists, including concept art director John Howe.

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Highlights of this volume give a detailed look at concept sketchs and paintings from Weta Digital, 3Foot7, and Weta Workshop of Galadriel’s Maxfield Parrish-esque costume design development from her descent into Dol Guldur, and the ghostly dead Ringwraith kings and the Necromancer, who at many times appeared as if he could have been designed by Bernie Wrightson or Frank Frazetta.  Costume designs featured include the elegant Thranduil, Elven soldiers, Bard, an unused but brilliant set of armor for Stephen Fry’s mayor of Lake-town, and every angle and type of Dwarf you could imagine.  Not surprisingly, it is the culture and artistry of Dwarves that fill the bulk of the pages here.

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Review by Art Schmidt

Peter Jackson’s final installment of his screen adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novel The Hobbit is a breathtaking piece of film which aspires to the almost insurmountable heights that his masterpiece The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King achieved.  The goal is a worthy, if almost unrealistic one, and Jackson spares no expense in trying to soar to those heights where he took us ten years ago.

I’m of two minds about this movie, and have been struggling to combine them into a single piece for you, our faithful readers.  But like Jackson with this trilogy, I am not quite up to the task.  And so, like Jackson, I will split something that should be in a single piece into multiple pieces, and although I am aware that they will likely not equal the sum of what a whole, single review should, I will try nonetheless because I have too much to say on the subject and am utterly unable to edit myself.  Much like a certain director we all know and admire.

Review by a fan of fantasy cinema

The Battle of the Five Armies is a really good film.  Is it great?  Well, that will be up to each viewer, honestly.  It is big and bold, and gives good screen time to the multitude of characters we have come to know over the course of the last two films in the trilogy.  The movie opens where the previous film left off, a different approach from other films in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies, which tended to open with flashbacks or clever recaps to bring the viewer back into the world of Middle-earth which may have faded slightly since the previous film.  Not so here, as the audience is plunged directly into the story right where we exited it last year.

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The dragon Smaug, scary and crazy in the second Hobbit film which bears his name, is magnificently rendered and feels vibrantly alive in the dark theater, the screen aglow with dragonfire and the air electric with his howls of rage and vengeance.  Benedict Cumberbatch captures the right amount of menace and vanity, bringing the drake alive in ways that superb CGI just could not do on its own.  The poor people of Laketown would surely stand in awe of Jackson’s creation if they were not fleeing for their very lives before it.

Martin Freeman knows how to play the everyman, which is essentially what Bilbo Baggins represents.  An everyday man who is snatched up from his comfortable if boring life and thrown headlong into the exciting, unpredictable and oft-times dangerous unknown.  His subtlety and good humor shine through his portrayal of the Hobbit and it is to Freeman’s credit that he can simultaneously stand up to the chiefest and greatest of calamities and also stand up for himself to Thorin, pointing out the sickness that everyone else can see but dare not mention.  The dwarves are also a humorous, entertaining lot, but far too much time would be required to provide the multitude of them a lot of individuality or backstory.  The few who are selected for the spotlight are well worth the time.  Lee Pace, Richard Armitage and Luke Evans play three leaders of different races whose loyalties lie to their people but with widely different styles and personalities.  As with the previous films, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Hugo Weaving as Elrond and even Christopher Lee as Saruman himself all put in appearances, though not in a way most might expect!

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Hobbit Marathon poster

Fans of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth series will have an opportunity to see the last installment of his six-film cycle two days in advance of the scheduled national release date.  Sure to be the biggest film of the year, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will round out a day-long marathon beginning at 12:30 p.m. local time around the country on Monday, December 15, 2014.  The national release is Wednesday, December 17, 2014.

AMC Theaters, Cinemark Theaters, and other theater chains are continuing the recent tradition of hosting blockbuster marathons including events for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Avengers Marathon, The Die Hard Marathon, and The Dark Knight Trilogy.

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Attendees will receive a commemorative lanyard and one of three posters created for the marathon.

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hobbit-battle-five-armies-gandalf-poster    hobbit-battle-five-armies-thorin-poster

What a long strange, fantastical trip it’s been.

Just over 14 years ago, Peter Jackson filmed the first scenes of his The Lord of the Rings trilogy–the first live-action effort to capture J.R.R. Tolkien’s complex series of novels.  Never before had anyone taken on a movie project so daunting.  Just look at photos of Jackson then and now and you can see a bit of how the director’s life has changed.

The culmination of his efforts was reached in 2006 as the series approached $3 billion in gross receipts, then its last entry Return of the King tied the record for Oscar wins with Ben-Hur and Titanic taking eleven Academy Awards, and sealing its status as fantasy royalty by taking the Best Film category.

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And so the success of The Lord of the Rings propelled a series for The Hobbit novel adaptation forward.  And the end is only a month away.  The bittersweet reality of the beckoning end permeates the last trailer we will see for this landmark series of films.  With this trailer we’re left with the gloom and darkness where this story must end.

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Dwarves The Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies

While DC Comics fans were waiting for an online release to surface from Comic-Con of a teaser for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which doesn’t arrive for two more years and still hasn’t made it to the Web, Warner Bros. and MGM released a giant preview for the last film in The Hobbit trilogy–the last of Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy J.R.R. Tolkien series.

With a great title that seems to fit the dark and violent scope of this last chapter, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies looks to be another winner.  In addition to the exclusive Comic-Con poster released earlier this weekend that we posted here, another version features Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins.

Bilbo The Hobbit Battle of the Five Armies poster SDCC 2014

But this first preview… a peek at Smaug devastating Lake-Town…  War-goats!

War goats The Battle of the Five Armies The Hobbit

Thranduil in battle…  Thorin calls for war… Dark times are ahead for fantasy fans, and we can hardly wait.

Check out this first trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies:

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