The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

December 18, 2014 By

Adam’s Verdict 4.5/5

The final movie in Peter Jackson’s epic Middle Earth saga is the least traveled with the most action out of all of the films. Stepping back into Middle Earth exactly where The Desolation of Smaug left off, The Battle of the Five Armies grabs the audience with incredible cinematography, action, and special effects quickly and never lets go.

As previously stated. The Battle of the Five Armies picks up exactly where Smaug left off. The dangerous and near unstoppable Smaug is raining destruction down on Lake Town. The citizens are evacuating and some beautifully crafted crane shots show every bit of the panic, burning, sorrow, and one man’s determination. Bard (Luke Evans) is the only one in Lake Town who wants to do something about the dragon. Going with the constant theme of kinship and family that resonates through the scrawling Middle Earth epic, Bard does this for his children.

Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) have a parting of the ways with the dwarves who didn’t first approach The Lonely Mountain. Tauriel and Kili (Aidan Turner) have another will-they-won’t-they moment before another familiar Middle Earth theme, all to rampant in the world at the time of the film’s release, racism takes over. The dwarve’s goal seems to be realized early on in the final installment of The Hobbit franchise until Thorin (Richard Armitage) goes down a path that makes him every bit the villain ever present in the other films in the form of Smeagol. Similar to the original trilogy, the final installment comes down to war. Not war for good versus evil, not right away, but a war that starts in a very human emotion, greed.

The plot synopsis could go on for a few thousand more words despite there being relatively little story development, compared to the previous films in the trilogy. The Hobbit jumps from one amazing set piece with large, fantastic, fantasy action to the next. This is in no way a slight against the movie. The Hobbit is the apex of the previous films. Everything builds to the action sequences in this film so it isn’t that Five Armies lacks in story, it’s that the set up was already done for it. The loose ends are tied up nicely and plenty of foreshadowing and set up put the pieces in play for the transition to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is impressive how closely related Jackson made his trilogy that came over a decade later.

Every actor embodies their character so well it is hard to see them as anything else. Especially the actors playing the main dwarves. The perceptions, effects, makeup, and costuming is still top notch and you could believe every actor is only four feet tall. A few characters only showed up in this final Hobbit installment for the sake of the trilogy and something more resembling a cameo than a role. Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Saruman (Christopher Lee), and Elrond (Hugo Weaving) show up in aide of Gandalf (Ian McKellen) in a scene that doesn’t feel entirely necessary, but from a fans point of view can only be described as bad ass. All the most powerful individuals get to display their prowess in combat and their larger than life abilities aided by some cool special effects. The excitement of the scene is enough to forgive it’s lack of necessity. The only real downside character and pacing wise was Alfird (Ryan Gage). The downside isn’t that Gage did a bad job, he was fine in the role, the down side was the sheer amount of screen time wasted on this one joke comic relief spectacle. The same joke was told no fewer than five times, and not quickly.

Going on about the scale, scope, and special effects seems almost redundant at this point. Almost. Seeing the film in a large format, high frame rate, and 3D is an astounding movie going experience. Not being a firm supporter of the 3D format that is more money grab than immersive takes a back seat this time around. The swooping crane shots Jackson made famous with his epics were heightened in a very natural three dimensional presentation. There are no goofy in-your-face moments to speak of and not a single all too long tracking shot on one of Legolas’s arrows. Everything from an army of dwarves to the fire churning in Smaug’s stomach are impossible yet completely believable.

Despite being the sixth film in a world famous franchise that has generated more than five billion dollars in ticket sales alone, Jackson’s Middle Earth saga still pulls the ultimate movie magic trick that every movie should at least attempt to pull off. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies makes the impossible possible and makes the audience believe, for two to three hours at a time, of a world bigger than their own.

A thank you to Peter Jackson

I’d like to thank you, Peter Jackson, for providing the world with your Middle Earth Saga. While I am a big fan of many entries in your filmography I just saw the conclusion to the adventure and it’s sitting with me in the best way a movie can.

In 2001 when I first saw The Lord of the Rings I was the typical American sixteen year old kid. Looking back I would say I wasn’t ‘into’ much, but this movie grabbed me and transported me to Middle Earth. Sadly I missed the first film to kick off the amazing sixteen year adventure in theaters, but made up for it by grabbing every home version available. I don’t think my ten dollars on that one hurt the five billion the franchise has brought in, in ticket sales alone, anyway.

I was so hooked on the movie that the day after I watched it for the first time I felt compelled to watch it with my family. Sitting through the full feature of nearly three hours felt short. By the time Frodo and Sam reconciled, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli regrouped and Sean Bean died (before that was even a meme) I said aloud ‘oh come on! Things are just starting!’ not out of disappointment but of the strong desire to not leave that world.

The Lord of the Rings are more than just cinematic accomplishments, entertainment, and a way to escape. I’m sure I am not alone in saying that films of this magnitude has had an absolute impact on my life. These movies (specifically the abundant extras in the extended editions) got me more interested in filmmaking, in writing, in creating. Watching to have a fraction of one percent of the creativity I saw makes me feel like any creative endeavor, even if just for myself, is beyond a shadow of a doubt, worth it. The films have carried me through tough times in High School, regular sicknesses that put me on the couch for days on end (later turned out to be vertigo), two counts of strep throat, late night college sessions scrambling to get web pages and flash animations working perfectly. The films have helped me bond with my parents, my girlfriend, and even had a strange effect on getting me out of a bad relationship (thanks for that one).

I was there opening weekend for every Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movie since missing the first in theaters. I bought the DVDs, the Extended DVD’s, and the Blu-Rays. I watch the whole saga at least once a year, and still every single time I feel the magic. I am transported. Although I had nothing to do with the spectacular, and I’m sure grueling, process of filming the movies, watching them makes me feel like part of something bigger. Predictably, wanting more beyond extended editions and the vast special features, the novels that started the adventure for many, followed soon after for me.

After seeing The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in a large format, high frame rate, 3D spectacle that convinces me the multiplex won’t go anywhere in my lifetime regardless of how good home entertainment gets, I was once again transported. Despite roughly fifteen hours of unique content spread over more than half of my life I still haven’t gotten enough. I am sad to see the trilogy go but understand the need for all good things to come to an end.

I’d like to take a second to thank you and the hundreds, if not thousands, of other people who worked together to make these films the benchmarks they are, and will remain to be for years. The questions of if you will or will not return to Middle Earth should be put to rest. You’ve given us your all. According to the media you have plans to take on some smaller, not lesser, projects that I will be first in line for when they happen.

Thank you, Peter Jackson, for redefining beloved classic stories. For revolutionizing the industry, inspiring two decades (and counting) of future movie makers, and providing the perfect escape for me, and countless others worldwide.

Review via Sitdown, ShutUp.