Cinemagoers finally get to discover the answer to the epic question of how exactly director Peter Jackson managed to spin J. R. R. Tolkien’s slender The Hobbit into three films totaling nearly eight hours as the trilogy reaches its conclusion this week. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies begins with Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his band of 13 dwarves having unleashed the dragon Smaug on Middle-earth as the evil Sauron assembles an army of orcs to attack the Lonely Mountain, setting the stage for a gargantuan battle. Among the spectacle’s vast cast, you’ll also find Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving – not to mention 92-year-old Christopher Lee.
After Topsy-Turvy and Vera Drake, Britain’s Mike Leigh steps back into the past once more for biopic Mr. Turner. Regular Leigh collaborator Timothy Spall portrays J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) in a film that spans the last 25 years of the maverick British painter’s life – a period that sees him strapping himself to the mast of a ship to paint a tempest, kicking up storms of his own at the Royal Academy, and working his way through a variety of mistresses. With Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Paul Jesson, Lesley Manville, Martin Savage and Ruth Sheen.
Here for the holiday season, Disney’s Big Hero 6 is a digitally animated comic adventure that follows teenage robotics genius Hiro Hamada as he brings together an inflatable robot and other friends to create a crime-fighting team to tackle a perilous plot in the future city of San Fransokyo. Based on a Marvel Comics series, it features the voices of Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, T. J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans, Jr., Génesis Rodríguez and Maya Rudolph.
And there’s more cartoon fun for the young ones in Stand by Me Doraemon, a smart-looking digitally animated spin-off of the long-running Japanese manga and anime series about a robot cat who travels back from the future to help a young boy .