The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

HobbitBattleFiveArmies“Go back to your armchair, Master Baggins. And your books. Plant your tree. If everybody valued home like you did, the world would be a merry place.”

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is an amazing, epic fantasy film created with a strong cast and excellent special effects based on the popular J.R.R. Tolkien book series. This action packed adventure was filmed simultaneously with the previous film series installments An Unexpected Journey (2012) and The Desolation of Smaug (2013). I only saw this installment in theaters and really enjoyed it.

Important events in the plot involve various characters such as elves, dwarves, hobbits and man himself flow well through the plot. Martin Freeman again stars as our main protagonist Bilbo Baggins, a heroic Hobbit guided by the wise wizard Gandalf the Grey, well played again by Sir Ian McKellen (X-Men).

Biblo’s special ring found in the goblin tunnels becomes very useful in the adventures where several key characters must conquer their own unique challenges and tasks as forces begin to build near Erebor mountain. The antagonistic orcs are again a major factor in the conflict along with goblins and bat swarms.

This interspecies love between Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly, the elf and Kili, played by Aidan Turner, a dwarf, represents an important subplot. The other part of this relationship triangle includes the returning Legolas Greenleaf, played by the returning Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean). Elf leader Thranduil, well played by Lee Pace (Guardians of the Galaxy) plays a major role in these two elves’ action as well as the beginning of the main battle.

The dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield, played by Richard Armitage, and Bard the Bowman, played by Luke Evans, again forge the way for their respect species as Middle Earth. Thorin’s obsession with the Arkenstone jeopardizes so much for the dwarves while Bard contends with saving Laketown’s residents from major attacks and their aftermaths.

Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) returns to play Lord Elrond while the 92-year old Sir Christopher Lee, the only cast member to actually meet Tolkien, also returns to play Saurman. The seemingly ageless Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth) also returns as Galadriel as this trio combines for an amazing, powerful sequence.

Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness) also returns in this film series to provide the two key voice roles of Smaug the Magnificent and Sauron the Necromancer.

The serious of certain characters’ situations provides more than enough drama that becomes accentuated by the action instead of having the opposite setup as so many action movies have done.

Director Peter Jackson co-wrote this film with Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Guillermo del Toro, who was originally set as this film series’ director. Jackson uses great camera shots showing such film elements as depth (in character shots to compensate for their sizes) and speed.

His camera angles and the set placement of the small and big characters add a whole new dimension into each camera shot.

The two hour and 24 minute running time allows plenty of opportunity for great action sequences, which have great meaning void of frivolous attacks and fireball explosions that serve to shock an audience. The 3D shots serve the story as well instead of acting as cheap ploys to wow the audience.

Jackson uses aerial shots and special close up and point-of-view shots that blend naturally with the 3D effects including an interior sequence involving some underground environments and stairs.

The special effects and visual arts crews get high commendations for accurate details in the special effects such as realistically constructed creatures and emotionally impactful effects such as the haunted image of Galadriel.  Combined with Howard Shore’s solid musical score, the visuals in the film reach your heart and mind in ways few films can.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies unpackages all the elements for a solid story – foreshadowing, memorable dialogue (“Everything I did, I did for them, I will not hide, when others fight our battles for us”), important flashbacks, and well varied environments.

The film has many instances of mental action as well. You see a wide display of action during the greatest mental challenges where trust, strategy, bravery, and sacrifice play important factors.

Veterans of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings film series can predictably get a deeper experience from this film though it can be a unique experience to see the film without previous knowledge of the books because the plot and multiple character arcs weave some complicated webs. It’s a great experience for anyone.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies provides good closure to The Hobbit trilogy as well as some special lead-in to the following The Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you enjoyed both trilogies then be sure to grab the very reasonably priced middle-earth Theatrical Collection (available on DVD and Blu-ray).

A solidly recommended film that represents a rare mix of amazing filmmaking and storytelling that produces a rare popular appeal. Recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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