The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies IMAX (2014) – Peter Jackson

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The last (or latest) trip to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth opened this weekend and, of course, being a fan of the world, I had to check it.

The IMAX 3D presentation I saw, was in the higher frame rate presentation, and I was eager to see how it looked and felt. I walked out of the film in a divided opinion. I enjoyed the film, for what it was, which in this installment, is little more than one long battle, which Jackson has shown in the past that he can handle.

The higher frame rate, however, I was not happy with. It actually ousted me from the film, as for me, the films of Middle Earth had already established a look and feel, and the high-definition transfer alongside the increased frame rate, made the characters appear, a number of times, as no more than actors on a stage, as opposed to characters inhabiting a world. There is also no motion blur, so a lot of movements seems jerky, if not downright unnerving.

For all that, I still had a lot of fun in the film, Bilbo (Martin Freeman),and Thorin (Richard Armitage) along with the rest of his dwarves have reclaimed the kingdom under the mountain, but Thorin is falling to illness, one of greed, brought on by the dragon’s presence after so long.

Bard (Luke Evans) finds himself the lone defender of Laketown when Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) lays siege to it.

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Gandalf (Ian McKellen) escapes the dire straits he was left in at the end of the last film, thanks to the appearance of some familiar faces. From there he travels to Dale at the edge of the mountain, where armies of orcs, elves, dwarves and men are massing to lay what may be the first move in the War that is to come.

This one moves pretty sleekly, and while there is still a lot of computer generated work in this film, it doesn’t feel quite as overused as it felt in the first two installments, or perhaps I’m just used to the way Jackson works with pixels now.

Freeman and Armitage get the lion’s share of the screen time this outing, even Gandalf seems to be pushed to the side a little. Freeman, however, continues to be eminently enjoyable as Bilbo, his performance as it has always been, comes across incredibly naturally.

There are lots of great images and moments in the film, and of course, Howard Shore gives us another soaring musical score to underline the action, the relationships, and the potential romances you know are going to end tragically, and the hints of things to come.

Many people will be delighted to know that the ending of the film is in fact, the ending, it doesn’t run on like Return of the King, though in that film, I really didn’t want to leave the world. This time around, it came quicker, you knew that Bilbo simply had to return to the Shire, and this sequence, traveling with Gandalf has some of my favorite imagery in the film.

This is still one to see on the big screen if you are a fan, but I’d caution you to stay away from the IMAX presentation if it has the higher frame rate presentation, I feel it doesn’t do the world, nor the film, justice.

Did you see it this weekend?

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