October 24, 2014 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
runtime
144 minutes
Wide Release Date
12/17/14
performer
Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood
director
Peter Jackson
distributor
Warner Bros.
genre
Action Adventure
We gave it a B

Imagine Peter Jackson in a general’s cap, planted wide-stanced in front of a huge New Zealand flag, teeth clenched around a cigarette holder as he rallies troops of CG artists. While the reality is less Patton-esque, designing and creating the 45-minute fight at the climax of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is much like preparing for an actual full-scale assault. ”There’s a lot of logistics that have to be thought through,” says Jackson. ”We have dwarves and men and elves and orcs, all with different cultures, with different weapons, and different shields and patterns and tactics.”

The mega-melee takes place at the foot of the Lonely Mountain as various armies vie for the newly reacquired dwarven treasure of Erebor. Like so much in Jackson’s Middle-earth, it represents filmmaking on the largest possible scale. ”Before we could loose the first arrow, we had to design the landscape itself and figure out, ‘Okay, if we have 10,000 orcs, how much room are they going to take up?”’ Jackson says. ”’Are they going to fill up the valley or look like a speck?’ Then we could start drawing the arrows on the schematics.”

After making the Lord of the Rings trilogy and two previous Hobbit films, Jackson has learned that epic warfare can be surprisingly boring. ”We have a rule that we’re not allowed to go more than two or three shots of anonymous people fighting without cutting back to our principal characters,” he says. ”Otherwise the audience just ends up with battle fatigue.”

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