The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, 2014.
Directed by Peter Jackson.
Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Evangaline Lilly, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Cate Blanchett, Billy Connolly, Stephen Fry, Mikael Persbrandt, Ian Holm, Sylvester McCoy and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Bilbo Baggins and the Dwarves have reclaimed the mountain of Erebor from the evil dragon Smaug and must now struggle to protect the treasure they fought to recover. Dwarves, Elves and Men must put aside their differences when faced with a dangerous common enemy.
Criticized heavily for being broken up into three films – all well over two hours – The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies actually succeeds in justifying that decision. The problem is that three movies may have been too much, whereas two would have been the sweet spot.
Picking up where The Desolation Of Smaug left off, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Smaug is terrorizing and laying waste to a nearby city, and it’s what we have been craving for nearly a year now. Coming off of one of the most tantalizing cliffhangers in some time, Battle Of The Five Armies admittedly drops the ball out of the gate. The destruction and battle sequence itself is filled with impressive special effects and prolonged glimpses of carnage, but it lasts too little. Built up as an indestructible force to be reckoned with, it is highly disappointing that Smaug bites the bullet before the opening credits of the film are complete. Why did I spend nearly a year anticipating something much more? This couldn’t have just been resolved at the end of The Desolation Of Smaug?
Whatever the reasoning may be, news of Smaug’s death spreads like wildfire, for all of the riches and wealth buried in his mountain are open for the taking. Quickly we learn that much like the world we live in, in Middle Earth money makes the world go around and around. Different factions seek the gold for different purposes, some more noble than others, but at the end of the day Richard Armitrage’s Thorin is having a bit of a mental breakdown, claiming everything for himself and refusing to assist those in need. What he doesn’t realize is that a massive legion of orcs are about to attack.
This sets up what is essentially non-stop action, as the titular five armies break out into all-out war, mostly coming together to get rid of the orcs. And for another closing chapter in Peter Jackson’s two trilogies of Middle Earth movies, there is a lot of crowd-pleasing chaos; most notably a fight across a crumbling bridge on an icy mountain that just might be one of my favorite sequences across all six films. Naturally, there is an incredible usage of CGI to bring everything to life, from creatures to locales.
Surprisingly, amidst all the clanging and stabbing is some room for character development; most notably the friendship between Bilbo Baggins/Thorin and the Dwarf/Elvin relationship between Killi and Tauriel. No, it isn’t the most groundbreaking of writing but it does help push the story forward and keep the stakes high. Furthermore, it’s also proof that the first two movies didn’t need to be three damn hours long, as Battle Of The Five Armies accomplishes everything that the first two did and much more, just more compact.
Despite a much shorter running time though, the downtime between Smaug’s death and the colossal battle will begin to wear you down, seemingly taking forever to start. It seriously feels like 30 to 45 minutes of pointless negotiations that go nowhere, and every army rallying their troops. So in that regard, the movie still could have been shorter but what we got is still a win.
None of the films in The Hobbit trilogy came anywhere close to matching the epicness and grand scale of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, but The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies is definitely the one that nearly achieved that lofty ambition. Not only does it end on a note of closure, but the battle itself is quite the spectacle to behold. You just have to get past the upset that is Smaug getting his ass kicked before the movie even properly begins. Or at least I did. Hey, me and Benedict Cumberbatch share a birthday so therefore we must stick together. Ranting aside, The Battle Of The Five Armies delivers on giving us one hell of a war.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. He currently writes for Flickering Myth, We Got This Covered, and Wrestle Enigma. Follow me on Twitter.