FILM REVIEW: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

(New Line Cinema, 2014)

Finally… After three long and tidious years, the trilogy of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) comes to a close with excitement, adventure, and successful completeness. I, as many, have been a Tolkien fan for most of my life. I can clearly remember as a middle schooler longing for the chance to see the Lord of the rings on the big screen. After tonight’s viewing of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, I can proudly state that Peter Jackson successfully etched The Hobbit into cinematic history.

This continuation of the tale of Bilbo Baggins and his dwarf cohorts places them at the beginning of the end. After successfully finding their way into the Lonely Mountain in the second Hobbit film, the dwarves and Bilbo have pushed the great dragon to his breaking point. Smaug, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, wants revenge for having been disturbed as he slept beneath his plunder.  He pledges to strike doom on the people of Lake Town because of the interferences caused by the dwarves. Smaug is fierce, destructive, and believes that he has no competition in all of Middle Earth. Luckily, for the people of Lake Town, their champion archer, Bard (Luke Evans) takes on the great beast with what might possibly be the luckiest shot in the history of Middle Earth. I should definitely check the Silmarillion for that one.

This is only just a taste of the opening scenes that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies contains. I do not intend for this post to be full of spoilers, but I do intend to help paint an understanding that this is a successful movie. As the director of one of the greatest trilogies in movie history, Peter Jackson has received both negative and positive critiques in regards to his take on Middle Earth. I find that his rendition concludes spectacularly and therefore any criticisms from me would be nothing less than puffs of pipe weed.

A movie that is meant to be one continuous battle scene is very difficult to produce. Orcs versus humans versus elves versus dwarves versus Eagles versus what seems like any other creature that has ever appeared in a Peter Jackson film, is the complete cast for the entire 2 hour fight sequence in The Hobbit. There are various times throughout the battle scenes that are difficult to follow. Why all of a sudden did the elves decide to take the side with the dwarves? Why in the world is the unibrow guy still alive? And, why didn’t Schmigel make an appearance? Truly I kid, but there were some very strange Peter Jackson-isms that left me asking why.

With the fighting aside, what lies beneath The Hobbit, is a great tale of love and fellowship. Thorin (Richard Armitage), after possessing what he has been traveling to find for over a year, does not become the King Under The Mountain. He is instead blinded with greed by a dragon sickness that lies upon the Mountain’s treasure and believes that his closest friends are his worst enemies. It takes losing all that he has fought for to realize that what really is the greatest treasure is family. For a movie that is mostly orc guts, where did he take the time to learn a life lesson? Well, from a hobbit, of course.

What this movie does do is set up everything that will eventually take place in the Lord of the rings trilogy. Some people will obviously be upset that a 200 page book was spaced out over three years and 9+ hours worth of movies. One must remember that these movies also include many factors from other parts of Middle-Earth lore. The biggest question that I have is – who really cares? The Hobbit is not about holding to each individual page of the novel. Instead, it is about showing that even amongst the tinniest of people in all the world, they can have the biggest impact. If you are looking for a thrilling tell that will leave you on the edge of your seat during the entire movie, I highly recommend seeing The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Reviewed by Galen Garner (@bamaredsox)

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