19 Apr 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies [blu-ray review]


The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Released April 20th 2015
Released by Warner Home Video
RRP £15.00
Running time: 144 minutes

The movie itself

The Battle of the Five Armies picks up in the aftermath of The Desolation of Smaug (check out my review of the second installment).

Laketown has burned to the ground, and the people of the Lake seek refuge in the ruins of the city of Dale.

Meanwhile, Thorin Oakenshield has taken up residence in the Lonely Mountain as a host of Men, Elves and Orcs march on the gates of Erebor.

The Battle of the Five Armies is a film of two halves.

The first is a slow burner as we see the mounting tensions between Thorin's company and those that would take on the mountain. Here we see Thorin's growing madness as the wealth of Erebor casts a sickness upon him.

The second half is all one massive battle as conflict erupts left, right and centre.

So you spend half the film waiting for something to happen, and in the other half there's so much going on that you can't keep up.

Whereas the battle of Minis Tirith in Return of the King was an epic conflict, the battle for Erebor here just seemed drawn out and overly-long.

The "non-book" scenes are particularly well-done in this film. The banishment of Sauron (and the preceding fight between Elrond, Saruman and the Ringwraiths) is as bad-ass as they come.

There's a top performance from Luke Evans (Bard the Bowman), who finds himself as the de facto leader of the people of Laketown.

You can see the inner workings of a great hero but with the head of a man who's sole concern is making sure everyone has a roof over their head and food in their belly.

How it looks and sounds

Howard Shore again does a spectacular job with the score, incorporating snippets from the Lord of the Rings score where appropriate.

Thorin's scenes in particular include elements of villainy in the music to show his growing madness and descent into corruption, which was very well done.

As always, the visuals are top notch, especially the battle sequences. There were one or two CG-scenes like the bats of Angmar that looked a little ropey, but on the whole it was a visual feast.

The extras

With such epic battle scenes, it's easy to forget that there are hundreds of actors performing as the rank-and-file troops in the battle.

In "Recruiting the Five Armies" we get some front-line footage and commentary from the background extras who play the elves, orcs and people of Laketown. This is a great insight into the people who don't usually get much credit in these kinds of movies.

In "Completing Middle Earth" we're treated to the connections that make up The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. As the culmination of a seventeen year journey, and the enormity of this is reflected here.

As much as some might groan whenever The Hobbit makes a throwback to Lord of the Rings, when you see it presented here you get a proper sense something grand indeed.

We're also given the fantastic song "The Last Goodbye" by Billy Boyd, who played Pippin in Lord of the Rings. You can't help but get a little bit of a chill when you realise what a journey you've been on  - and that it's now over.

Can't see the video? Watch it on YouTube

Final thoughts

As stunning as the final battle was, the excessive length of the trilogy is most evident here. Those who lamented the decision to adapt The Hobbit into three movies instead of two will feel justified after watching this.


The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a visually impressive and suitably epic conclusion to what is ultimately an overly-long trilogy. The Blu-Ray is stunning and, with around an hour of special features, finishes off the saga nicely.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of the blu-ray for the purposes of this review.

About Jamie

Jamie Gibbs is a self-confessed fantasy geek with a penchant for 80s pop culture nostalgia and obscure movie quotes. He is also a Nu-Whovian and a Ravenclaw.

Follow him on: Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

17 Apr 2015

This David Hasselhoff music video is the most 80s thing you'll see


I am absolutely loving the wave of 80s nostalgia working its way around the internet.

This latest offering from David Hasselhoff is nothing short of spectaular.








"True Survivor" is the lead track for the action film Kung Fury that was a successful Kickstarter project earlier this year.

Based solely on this song, I am very much looking forward to the film.

Kung Fury will be released on YouTube on May 28th. For now you can just play the song on repeat forever:

Can't see the video here? Watch it on YouTube instead

Here's the uber-80s trailer for Kung Fury:

Can't see the video here? Watch it on YouTube instead

About Jamie

Jamie Gibbs is a self-confessed fantasy geek with a penchant for 80s pop culture nostalgia and obscure movie quotes. He is also a Nu-Whovian and a Ravenclaw.

Follow him on: Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

14 Apr 2015

Happy Hour in Hell by Tad Williams


Happy Hour in Hell

by Tad Williams
416 pp - (Hardback)
Pub: Hodder & Stoughton
Released 26 September 2013
Order on Amazon UK

What's it all about

Happy Hour in Hell is the follow-on from The Dirty Streets of Heaven [check out my review of the book here].

San Judas’s favourite angel Bobby Dollar -  aka Doloriel -  is about to do something stupid.

His demonic would-be girlfriend Casimira has been held prisoner by Eligor, Grand Duke of Hell, and so Bobby decides that the best thing to do is to infiltrate Hell itself in order to get her back.

What's good about it

Williams's world-building is top notch.

The hierarchy of Hell and the different levels that make up the Inferno make brief nods to Dante's The Divine Comedy and Milton's Paradise Lost, but on the whole it has its own complex ecosystem.

Much to Dollar's surprise, the citizens of Hell live, thrive and survive as much as they would have in their earthly lives.

Williams peels back the curtain and offers a glimpse into a setting that is at once familiar and yet very alien.

If you come for the view, you'll stay for the voice. Bobby Dollar might be an angel, but he has needs and wants like the rest of us.

He doesn't take much crap from anyone and isn't afraid to let them know about it.

His world-weary nihilism has parallels with the Warden from Polansky's Low Town series, which keeps things interesting.

What's not so good

As much I really enjoyed Dollar himself, I felt that the supporting cast weren't fleshed out very well.

With a few exceptions, most characters seemed little more than a vehicle to get Bobby from Plot Point A to Plot Point B.

The story builds to a stand-off between Dollar and his antagonist that ultimately results in an anti-climax.

While this was a refreshing sight from the standard "everything's turned out better than expected", it ended on a down note that didn't lend itself to leaving the reader wanting more.

Final thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed Happy Hour in Hell, but most of that I feel stems from my interest in the changing interpretations of the layout and population of the Inferno.

It has its flaws, yes, but with a voice as fun to read as Bobby Dollar's, I'll still read the third installment. I just hope that there's more substance to the other characters.


Despite a cast of underdeveloped characters, Happy Hour in Hell is an enjoyable journey through the depths of Hell, and with Heaven's most sarcastic angel as your guide you won't go far wrong.

Disclosure: The publisher provided me with an hardback copy of the book for the purposes of this review.

About Jamie

Jamie Gibbs is a self-confessed fantasy geek with a penchant for 80s pop culture nostalgia and obscure movie quotes. He is also a Nu-Whovian and a Ravenclaw.

Follow him on: Twitter | Facebook | YouTube