The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies ★★★★
Picking up where The Desolation of Smaug left off, with the Benedict Cumberbatch-voiced dragon emerging from a shower of molten gold hellbent on laying fiery waste to Laketown, this third part of the trilogy pays off the occasionally rather padded-out saga with a spectacular climax. The town cannot be saved, but Luke Evans’s nifty bowman, Bard, takes charge, and various factions make their journeys towards the final showdown at the ruins of Dale. Azog and Bolg lead the massed Orcs, and there are acts of courage from all angles, not least from the hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) himself, assisted by Gandalf (Ian McKellen). That this epic conclusion was honoured at the 87th Academy Awards with a single nomination for sound editing sums up the critical shrug that greeted the film – despite being showered with $956 million at the box office. That’s a lot of molten gold.
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