After 13 years, the Middle Earth Saga finally comes to a close with the release of ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’. The Hobbit series which is based off of the acclaimed novel by J.R.R. Tolkien comes before the events of the widely acclaimed and successful Lord of The Rings Trilogy. It tells the story of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins and how he reluctantly joins a company of dwarves on a quest to reclaim their homeland. The culmination of this epic quest changes the lives of all involved and sets things in motion that will greatly influence the events of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. ’The Battle of the Five Armies’ acts as a grand sendoff to the Hobbit trilogy and as the perfect link between the two series that make up the Middle Earth Saga.
Naturally, the film picks up right where ‘Desolation of Smaug’ left off with the fearsome dragon Smaug (Voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) on its way to destroy Lake Town as punishment for Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and the dwarves trying to steal The Lonely Mountain back. The devastation caused by Smaug is truly amazing when witnessed in IMAX. This is not a film that you want to see in a small theater with average sound. During this portion, we seen Bard (Luke Evans) rise to the occasion and kill the dragon. This allows him to become the new leader of the people of Lake Town and he leads them to take refuge in the ruined city of Dale.
One of the parts that I was looking most forward to is the rescue of Gandalf (Ian McKellen) by Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and Saruman (Christopher Lee). After seeing this, I have very mixed feelings about it due to the look of The Nine and Sauron. The Nine looked ridiculous and the graphics looked like they belonged more in a Hobbit video games rather than on the big screen. Also the armor that The Nine was decked out in wasn’t nearly as iconic and threatening as the simple black cloaks that they wore in The Lord of the Rings. The fight sequence between Saruman, Elrond and The Nine was cool though and had a very video game like quality to it. It was very fast paced and is probably one of my favorite fight sequences in the trilogy. Another thing that I loved was that we finally got to see Galadriel kick some ass. First, she obliterated an orc with a bolt of light and then she faces Sauron himself and turns into a ghoulish looking version of Galadriel that we saw in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’; banishing him back to Mordor to wreak havoc another day. The sequence where she banishes him nearly gave me a seizure and yet again the graphics looked like something from a rookie graphic artist rather than an Academy Award winning team. Also I totally ship Gandalf and Galadriel after this scene!
I don’t know if this is an unpopular opinion but I love Thranduil (Lee Pace)! I just love how grand he is and how he is willing to wage war for a couple of diamond. I love characters who are meant to be good guys but are actually quiet evil and are willing to stop at nothing to get what they want. He ends up having a redeeming moment at the end between his son, Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) that makes you warm up to him if you didn’t like him already. When the battle commences, there is this bit when the elf king rides into Dale on this massive elk. The elk pick up these orcs with its antlers and Thranduil proceeds to cut six heads off at once. Right after that, the elk is killed by an arrow and he falls off; surrounded by enemies. Oh so casually though, he kills like two dozen orcs single handedly. Boss!
As an army of elves and men sit on Thorin (Richard Armitage) and the dwarf company’s doorstep, a huge bomb is dropped. The bomb is that Bilbo had found the Arkenstone which would give Thorin the right to rule the dwarf kingdom of Erebor and gave it to Thranduil, Bard and Gandalf as a waging chip to get what they want. Thorin who has already slipped into a sickness of the mind caused by his desire for treasure, tries to kill Bilbo and refuses to surrender any treasure to the army he faces. As in all epic films, reinforcements show up at the exact right time. Thorin’s cousin Dain (Billy Connolly) and an army from the Iron Hills show up to reinforce their kin. These two armies could not be more different.
The tall elves are armored in elegant gold and silver gear. The dwarves of the Iron Hills are, you guessed it, in iron armor and are quite short. They are also very Scottish. Dain comes strolling in on an armored boar being all sarcastic and wonderful! Dain is bloodthirsty and ready to kill anyone that threatens his kin. Again when we think that a battle between the elves and dwarves are about to begin, another party enters the fray.
The next part is a very “what the hell was that” moment when a bunch of giant earthworms burst out of a mountain to make tunnels for the invading orc army. The battle that ensues is one that could only be pulled off by Peter Jackson. They fight on the slopes of mountains, the streets of Dale, the plains in front of The Lonely Mountain, and on a frozen mountain. The scope of the battle is just epic and is everything that you could hope for in a Middle Earth battle. Four huge battles take place in the Middle Earth Saga at Helms Deep, Minas Tirith, The Black Gates and now The Lonely Mountain. This battle takes all of the qualities of the battles in The Lord of the Rings and molds it into something new and exciting.
The last 45 minutes of the film is what really makes this movie truly great. Thorin and three other dwarves scale the side of a mountain on the backs of a couple rams to kill the orc leader, Azog (Manu Bennett). The battle that takes place on this mountain and frozen river will claim the lives of some of your favorite dwarves and will destroy your life. The fight that takes place between Legolas and one of the orcs commanders, Bolg (Lawrence Makoare) is one of the best of the entire Middle Earth Saga. The sequence that takes place on a fallen tower spanning a deep chasm. The entire sequence and the one that precedes it will leave you on the edge of you seat the entire time!
I have always told people that my holy trinity is Harry Potter, Star Wars and the Middle Earth Saga. The release of the last movie in this series is kind of bittersweet to me but they ended the movie perfectly and made you feel very nostalgic. Middle Earth fans will always welcome these stories back as very old friends and Film Mention gives this film 4 out of 5 reels.
‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ was released on December 17, 2014 and stars Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch and Billy Connolly. The film is directed by Peter Jackson.