With The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the trilogy of movies based on The Hobbit draws to a close. Those familiar with the book know that, if any portion of it merited Peter Jackson’s drawn-out, epic treatment, this is it.
We start with Smaug wreaking havoc on Laketown, while Bilbo and the dwarves watch from the mountain. Bard (aided by his son) slays the dragon, but Laketown is lost, and the survivors relocate to the ruins of Dale to lay claim to Thorin’s promises of shared wealth. Unfortunately, Thorin has fallen victim to the dragon’s hoard and is lost in mad obsession with the treasure and the Arkenstone. Shared wealth is not forthcoming.
Thranduil, with an army of elves, comes to claim elven treasures lost to Smaug’s hoard and meets the same response as the Laketown refugees. Bilbo tries to use the Arkenstone as a bargaining chip and almost gets killed by Thorin. The humans and elves are getting ready to attack the dwarves in the mountain when an army of dwarves from the Iron Hills shows up to aid their dwarven brethren. All these groups are then attacked by an army of orcs.
Thorin overcomes his madness and leads his dwarves into the battle. Another army of orcs joins the fray, and then an army of giant eagles, Beorn, and Radagast saves the day. The orcs are vanquished, but Fili, Kili, Thorin and countless extras are killed. Bilbo lives, makes peace with Thorin before the latter dies, and returns to the Shire just as his things are being auctioned off (as he’s been presumed dead).
To my surprise, I loved The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I found the previous two entertaining and very pretty, but so drawn out and overblown that I found myself giggling in the wrong places. This one actually worked. The grand scale, the plots pulled from other sources, even the made-up-so-they’d-have-one-female-character elf all worked. Not perfectly (I’ll nitpick later), but I found this to be an engaging and (in all the right spots) heart-wrenching film with a very satisfying conclusion. It even tied up a couple of “now, how did this work?” things from the Lord of the Rings movies.
The characters that we’ve followed through the previous two movies came into their own and really made me care what happened to them in this film. Thorin and Bilbo were especially excellent. Thranduil proved himself kingly a dozen ways over, and Galadriel…wow. Her scenes in this movie lent a whole new meaning to the scene in The Fellowship of the Ring when she turns down the One Ring. Even Tauriel managed to make me cry, as a young elf experiencing death, loss, and grief for the first time.
The sets, props, costumes, and effects were spectacular (of course). Howard Shore’s score drew me seamlessly into The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. And Billy Boyd’s song in the closing credits was the perfect conclusion to this trip through Middle Earth.
Though I loved the movie, it did have a few flaws. The pacing still lagged in several spots. Thorin’s madness and hallucinations were a lot longer than they needed to be, and the scenes with Alfrid…I know they had to do something to explain what happened to him, but I still thought those scenes were a waste of film.
On the whole, though, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a very good movie. I will definitely add it to my collection. It left me wishing that there were some hope of seeing Beren and Luthien on the silver screen…
Release Date: December 17, 2014 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (minor social drinking, Gandalf smokes his pipe)
Language: 1 (minor occasional)
Violence: 4 (brutal and often graphic violence, extended battles, many deaths)