As of now, we will be travelling to Middle Earth for the very last time. We’ve traveled there and back again, from The Shire to Mordor. One ring has ruled us all and cinema was forever changed. We’ve witnessed the alliance of Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, and Humans, as they banded together to defeat the evil Orcs and the forces of Sauron. It’s been one hell of a pair of journeys and this one concludes in an epic fashion, as five armies collide this time around.
After Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) the Magnificent escaped from under the lonely mountain and left Erebor to the Dwarves, he began wreaking havoc upon Lake-town and it was up to Bard (Luke Evans) to slay the dragon and save his people from death by fire. Meanwhile, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) reclaimed his place as the rightful King under the mountain and went searching for the Arkenstone, the prized jewel of his forefathers. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is caught in the middle of all of this drama and death, unsure of what fate lies before him and if he’ll ever make it back to The Shire and see the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen).
When the Elven army, led by their leader Thranduil (Lee Pace), march upon the mountain it’s clear that they want something within. As they begin to form outside the walls of Erebor, the remaining citizens of Lake-Town follow Bard to the mountain in order to claim the riches that they were promised. Elsewhere, Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and Legolas (Orlando Bloom) discover that an army of Orcs is descending upon the mountain from the South. Inconveniently, another army of superior Orcs is coming from under the mountain and they’re led by the vicious Azog (Manu Bennett). As all of these armies descend upon Erebor, the largest battle in Middle Earth will commence.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the end of the Hobbit era, as it attempts to unravel its many stories and conclude them with a bow on top. While there are many exhilarating and profound moments in the film, there are also as many dull and unnecessary moments that feel out-of-place for Middle Earth. There is a lot of emotion surrounding this film, as it’s the last time we’ll travel to Middle Earth (for now at least), but there was certainly a lack of emotion on the audiences end, which felt odd compared to the flood of emotions that ran when The Return of the King concluded.
With Five Armies all colliding at once, there are many leaders in the field of battle. Lee Pace’s Elven leader stands out among them, as his emotionless demeanor makes him a ruthless adversary. His Moose, his army, and his tactics are all exceptional, rivaling that of Luke Evans and his command of the lake people. Evans always takes charge and makes the decisions he has to, in order to preserve his people. Not to mention the fact that he fights well and naturally exudes the leader persona. For the time he’s involved, Ian McKellen’s Gandalf is a weakened presence, but his effect on others is wonderful. He enables the inclusion of a truly frightening Cate Blanchett, an awesome Hugo Weaving, and a powerful Christopher Lee.
Martin Freeman, the supposed focus of these films, falls into the background for a good portion of this film, but he is afforded many defining moments which have you and others rallying behind him. His Bilbo Baggins is full of courage and love, standing up for his friends in the face of death. Even though their characters aren’t in the novel, Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lilly make great use of their time as two ass-kicking Elves who get all the fun sequences, with the former getting another wickedly cool scene to remember. Aidan Turner and Dean O’Gorman as Kili and Fili also leave their mark on this film, providing the most emotion anyone will feel.
Director Peter Jackson often pays homage to his Lord of the Rings series within this film, but he also does his best to differentiate from that material. The New Zealand landscape is as refreshing as ever and although he’s relying more on green screen, everything still looks absolutely beautiful. The atmosphere feels completely different and with that comes some uncertainty on the audiences end. Given the material provided, it’s not hard to believe that you’ll feel unattached to the characters or the stakes in the film. There’s never enough time spent with certain characters to get you to a point of worry. Even the end resolve doesn’t feel as rewarding as it should.
Richard Armitage, arguably the center of this trilogy, is a complete asshole in this film and he’s totally unlikable. His character’s motivations make some sense, but it’s hard to get behind him here. There’s an unreasonable amount of time spent on his moping about, but an even more absurd amount of time spent on the sniveling servant to the king. He’s an irrelevant character that gets almost as much screen time as Freeman, and all he does is cower and boss people around. With five armies clashing, there’s a ton of back-and-forth between large and small battles and it doesn’t flow well at all.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is more intriguing than the first in the series, but nowhere near as enjoyable and as interesting as the second. Granted, this film is the shortest and it certainly feels that way. The film was over in an instant and it still felt like not much happened. The film picks up where the last left off and that was silly given what happens immediately after and that’s where the trouble starts. The focus is all wrong here and there’s nothing to grab ahold of. There is a good deal to enjoy here in the battles and performances, but this movie and the franchise deserve far more than that.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Trailer