Rated PG-13 for intense violence and frightening images
Tolkien Franchise Finale Features Bilbo and Pals in Epic Showdown
The Battle Of The Five Armies is the third and closing chapter in The Hobbit series based on the classic fantasy novel of the same name by J.R.R. Tolkien. The film also represents the finale in the sextet of Tolkien adaptations directed by Peter Jackson also including The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.
Picking up from where the cliffhanger of the last episode left off, this action-oriented installment opens with protagonist Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his dwarf pals fretting over having unwittingly awakened Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch). For, the ferocious, fire-breathing dragon has left his mountain lair and begun venting his wrath upon the helpless citizens of Lake-town.
Fortunately, a savior eventually arrives in the person of Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) an intrepid archer who takes aim at the seemingly-invincible Smaug’s Achilles’ heel. However, piercing the tiny bare patch of skin on the dragon’s vulnerable belly doesn’t settle the question of who gets the gold and priceless baubles still sitting inside the now unprotected Lonely Mountain.
As word spreads of the demon’s demise, greed gets the better of assorted individuals who proceed to descend upon the area to stake a claim on the vast treasure. Only the arrival of a horde of evil orcs doing the bidding of the avaricious Dark Lord, Sauron the Necromancer (also Benedict Cumberbatch), inspires the contentious masses to end their hostilities and join forces against a common enemy.
Clocking in at a mercilessly-brief 144 minutes, The Battle Of The Five Armies is not only the shortest, but the most entertaining of Jackson’s Tolkien screen adaptations. Between an engrossing plotline and virtual non-stop combat, the picture proves to be just the perfect way to bring down the curtain on a storied fantasy franchise.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 144 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening December 19, 2014
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Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb (PG for mild action, rude humor and brief epithets) Third installment in the fantasy franchise inspired by Milan Trenc’s illustrated children’s book sends the feckless protagonist (Ben Stiller) on a globe-spanning quest to save the magic before it is gone forever. Supporting cast includes Owen Wilson, Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan, Dick Van Dyke and the late Mickey Rooney and Robin Williams.
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Farewell, Herr Schwarz (Unrated) Post-World War II documentary follows a 30-year-old Jewish woman’s attempt to learn why her Holocaust survivor grandfather abandoned her mother for a new flame following his liberation by the Allies. (In Hebrew, German and English with subtitles)
Goodbye To All That (Unrated) Midlife crisis comedy revolving around a clueless family man (Paul Schneider) who embarks on a string of one-night stands after being blindsided by his miserably-married wife’s (Melanie Lynskey) demand for a divorce. With Heather Graham, Amy Sedaris, Heather Lawless and Anna Camp.
Inside The Mind Of Leonardo (Unrated) Reverential biopic about Leonardo Da Vinci (Peter Capaldi) based on the 6,000 pages of handwritten notes and drawings contained in the Italian Renaissance artist’s private journals.
Life Of An Actress: The Musical (Unrated) Broadway producer Paul Chau wrote and directed this musical revolving around the trials and tribulations of three aspiring actress (Allison Case, Taylor Louderman and Orfeh) working as waitresses at a diner while waiting for their big break. Ensemble includes Jason Babinsky, Amelie McKendry and Mandy Fisher.
Mr. Turner (R for sexuality) Timothy Spall plays the title role in this historical biopic chronicling the last quarter-century in the life of J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), the eccentric English artist primarily known for painting landscapes. With Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson and Marion Bailey.
A Small Section Of The World (Unrated) Tale of female empowerment about a group of women who sparked a coffee-growing revolution in Costa Rica.
Song Of The Sea (PG for peril, pipe smoking and mild profanity) Animated fantasy about the last of the selkies, seals that transform themselves into women in accordance with Irish and Scottish legend. Voice cast includes Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan and Pat Shortt.