When I was a kid, I used to love a …
To fully appreciate Peter Jackson’s last foray into Middle-Earth, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, one must understand it’s actually two separate movies. The first movie is a sour, pseudo-Shakespearean morality play that has nothing to do with Hobbits. The second movie is a heartfelt rumination about friendship and self-sacrifice. For those willing to overlook the sour for the sweet, there are great treasures to be found, as Jackson brings his trilogy to a suitably-epic conclusion.
In Heavenly Creatures, Peter Jackson establishes the societal isolation of his protagonists right from the beginning. The movie opens with a 1950s documentary concerning the story’s setting, Christchurch, New Zealand. The area is wholesome and idyllic. People ride their bikes down busy streets. Children play in the local park. Vibrant flowers bloom in the springtime sun. Then, just as the documentary’s narrator begins to proclaim that Christchurch is New Zealand’s finest town, the distant sound of screaming is heard. It swells to a terrifying volume.
The second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.