Cert: 12A Runtime: 144 mins Director: Peter Jackson Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lillly, Lee Pace, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Aidan Turner, Benedict Cumberbatch and Christopher Lee
You have but one question to answer: How shall this day end?
Potentially out last ever trip to Middle Earth has been a long time coming, during the end of The Return of the King we were going through a roller coaster of emotion. The Hobbit trilogy hasn’t been as much of an emotional ride for me. The big question at the end of this is are we glad it’s over or sad that it’s over? So what is The Battle of the Five Armies about? Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and the dwarves failed in their plan to kill Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) in his Lonely Mountain lair. Now they watch helplessly as the dragon flies off to rain fiery vengeance on Lake-town. Only Bard (Luke Evans) can stop the enraged beast now, using the last remaining dragon-slaying black arrow. Gandalf (Ian McKellen), meanwhile, has been imprisoned at Dol Guldor by the Necromancer. The stage is set for the stunning climactic battle for Smaug’s hoard, to which Peter Jackson’s astonishing second Middle-earth trilogy has been building. This sees goblins and wargs take on the dwarves, elves, men and giant eagles in one almighty conflict.
When cinema prequel folklore will be discussed The Hobbit trilogy will be there along with the Star Wars prequels. Not saying they are bad films, but they have fallen short of there original form. The Hobbit trilogy has been entertaining and fun but it hasn’t been a great emotional roller coaster. For me The Unexpected Journey was the best of the three. The Battle of the Five Armies has too much CGI, and little story. But just like the Desolation of Smaug this is mostly forgiven by the way Jackson has once again managed to make everything work together. It doesn’t feel as ‘real’ as Lord of the Rings did, but by now we’ve come accustomed to the leading Ork villains being CGI characters. The Battle of the Five Armies makes one thing clear, it is that this series should of never been a trilogy. Half of the first movie could’ve been cut, Smaug and the actual battle could’ve been one movie. Does that mean Battle of the Five Armies is a disappointment, victim of a story stretched too thin? No. All story there is serves to set up one of the biggest battles we’ve seen in the series, and in the original trilogy.
The finale on a misty and icy tower especially ranks among the best set pieces in Jackson’s take on the series. Underlying themes of dragon’s greed, akin to One Ring obsession work well and show a Thorin Oakenshield that grows ever more insane. Smaug’s short presence in this movie is sweet, but in the end made me wish his story would’ve been either wrapped up in the previous movie or be bigger in this one. A great character with so much screen presence, and a shame to only be in here for a few minutes. There actually is a lot of great humour as well. And big surprise: it isn’t even distracting! Right- hand to Laketown’s ruler, Alfrid. It was very cheesy at some point but The Hobbit is a children’s book, humour was bound to be included. Meeting up with the Shire for once last time, finally, was a bit emotional. A sort of cinematic homecoming after all these years. A sense of the peril in Middle Earth finally being over. But I did feel rather underwhelmed this was my last fresh visit to Middle Earth.