Movie Review: Legendary story takes on new spin

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By Michael Booton/Teen Pulse staff

Everything needs a foundation, and director Peter Jackson lays a fitting corner stone for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy with his latest epic finale, “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies.”
Picking up the action from the cliffhanger at the end of the second movie, the villagers of Laketown flee the ruins of their wooden village, destroyed by Smaug the dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch).
The dwarves prepare the mountain for siege, while, Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Galadriel (Cate Blanchet), Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and Saruman (Christopher Lee) confront the nine kings returned from the dead, and find an old enemy.
In front of the mountain, the refuges of Laketown and the wood elves prepare a siege to claim a part of the treasure.
Tensions escalate as Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) negotiates to prevent a skirmish. Despite his efforts, the dwarves of the Iron Hills arrive to defend the mountain. Before the armies of men, elves and dwarves can meet, Azog (Manu Bennett) and his force of orcs, by a second force of orcs from the north, attack. At the climax of the storyline, the five armies battle to decide the fate of Middle Earth.
Of the three movies based on J.R.R. Tolkein’s “The Hobbit,” this one differs greatest from the book. Peter Jackson not only bringing in mythos from other Tolkien works to enrich the story, but also takes great liberties in changing large elements of the battle staging. Slow moving in the beginning, momentum gains later in grandiose computer generated graphics to rival a Marvel superhero movie.
Seeking to reach the female audience, controversial character Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) was created with some creative license, driving away purists with her existence.
Unfortunately, a movie may never be made that matches its book, but Peter Jackson blends modern cinematic needs with source in genius ways. He maintains a semblance of the lightheartedness of what was intended to be a children’s book through his character of Bilbo, brought to life by Martin Freeman in a truly unique way.
He does what Tolkien wanted to do but could not before he died:  place the story of “The Hobbit” in the context of his larger framework. Today’s standards of an action to story ratio may be less than satisfactory to many of Tolkien’s readers, but stories change over time to stay relevant.
Tolkien wanted nothing more than to create a new fairy tale, to be retold to audiences over time, a wish Jackson has honored.
Enticing a new generation into Middle Earth, “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies” is rated PG-13 with a running time of 144 minutes.