The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies: Movie Review and Analysis

By Mathew Lanning

Warning: This review will be split into two sections – a non-spoiler review and a spoiler-heavy review.

Non-Spoiler Review

I am a big Middle-Earth fan. I was first introduced to Tolkein’s book series the year that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, part one of The Hobbit film trilogy, came out; I was excited by the notion that they were turning The Hobbit into a movie.

I later found out that they were not turning this short novel into not one movie, but three full-length movies. I was a little confused by this whole notion; I would have thought it not possible at the time. After watching An Unexpected Journey, I was a little confused about all of the things that Peter Jackson had added into the movie that were not in the book.

After An Unexpected Journey, I began reading Lord of the Rings. I watched the films and, immediately, all of the add-in An Unexpected Journey made sense.

In 2013, The Desolation of Smaug was released; this was the movie that continued on from An Unexpected Journey. While this movie was better-paced than the first movie (which was rather slow in most areas), Jackson had still left out some parts of the novel that could have fitted into the movie if less Lord of the Rings references were made. One of the scenes I was disappointed not to see was the crossing of the enchanted river; I later, however, to my excitement, found it in the extended edition.

While the extra stuff seemed a bit annoying in the first two movies, The Battle of the Five Armies seemed full of it. The entire movie focused on the Battle of the Five Armies, as the title implies. The two-and-a-half hour movie began right where the last one ended, and I was immediately drawn in.

The entire movie in a nutshell was very fast-paced in complete contrast to An Unexpected Journey. The entire battle within the movie is a fight for the mountain that Thorin and company had recently reclaimed – basically a battle for real estate.

The movie’s original title was going to be There and Back Again; however, seeing as how the Battle of the Five Armies was the subject mostly focused on, the name change seemed appropriate.

Bilbo Baggins is The Hobbit trilogy’s main character. In The Desolation of Smaug, we begin to see that Bilbo starts to stray as the main character and Thorin seems to take up the role. This is also apparent in The Battle of the Five Armies, as the battle does not focus on Bilbo.

Overall, The Battle of the Five Armies was satisfying as a concluding movie to The Hobbit Trilogy but a weak exaggeration of a small point in the novel.

Spoiler-Heavy Review

I had some troubles with this movie, but I still seemed to find some very intriguing parts of the movie. To name my troubles:

  • I felt that the battle was drawn out and the movie could not stand on its own. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was essentially a giant battle film, but it still felt as if the movie had a beginning, middle, and end. I did not feel the same with The Battle of the Five Armies.
  • There were some ridiculous-looking battle scenes in this movie that tested the limits when it comes to epic battles. For instance, there were three major scenes that I felt were rather unnecessary/stupidly planned:
  1. When Azog the Orc is underneath the ice in his battle with Thorin, and he opens his eyes, causing a cheap jump-scare. This scene felt way too cliché.
  2. When Bard the Bowman jumps in a cart and drives it down the road to save his children. This is an example of misused physics as well as stupid heroism.
  3. When, in the midst of Legolas’ battle with Bolg, the tower-bridge that they’re standing on crumbles apart, and Legolas sprints up the falling pieces like he’s on the wrong escalator. We’ve seen Legolas pull off some impossible ninja-style moves before, but this one is just ridiculous.

I also felt that there were some really good moments in the movie as well. I will, to easily explain these moments, explain my favorite moments in a Top Five list.

  1. Bard vs. Smaug

This was pretty much the first thing to happen in the movie and was, in the same respect, the thing that put me right into the movie. Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor who voices Smaug and the Necromancer, was barely in the movie, as was the dragon himself. I was disappointed that we did not get to see more of him.

Speaking of Bard, I was not overly-fond of his son. Bain does have his heroic moments, but I felt that they were thrown in the movie just to make it a little more suitable for kids.

  1. Thranduil vs. Everyone

Thranduil, the Elvenking, had come to Erebor to reclaim a necklace made of gems of pure starlight; this was supposedly some piece of jewelry that had been lost by generations of Elves and Dwarves. No army but his own seems to be in his favor, however, as they are all fighting themselves for their own share of Erebor’s treasure. Lee Pace, the actor who played Thranduil, succeeds in portraying an absolutely irritating character in the movie.

  1. The relationship between Thorin and Bilbo

The Battle of the Five Armies probably would not have been able to succeed without this relationship. During the beginning of the movie, Thorin is going crazy, supossedly with Dragon Sickness, and Bilbo is concealing what he wants form him – The Arkenstone. However, Thorin eventually comes around and realizes that Bilbo was trying to help him, and they grow from Thorin’s bullying to their friendship all the way up until Thorin’s death.

  1. Galadriel vs. Sauron

This was the conclusion to Gandalf’s side of the story – the one which basically tied in The Lord of the Rings. Galadriel comes to Gandalf’s rescue in Dol Guldur and banishes Sauron to Mordor. We get to see Galadriel in a similar state to the one she had been in the mirror scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; this time, however, she uses her full power to banish the enemy.

I especially liked the creativity of placing Sauron himself as the pupil of the eye. Speaking of the eye, we get to see it go through a bunch of stunning visual effects in this movie – which gets you excited to watch The Lord of the Rings trilogy again. This moment would have been the number one moment in The Battle of the Five Armies; however, I found one moment slightly better than this one.

  1. The End

This is arguably the best part of the movie (in my opinion). The way that The Battle of the Five Armies ties into The Lord of the Rings is almost perfect; the very last seen we get to see is of Ian Holm, the actor who plays the older version of  Bilbo, sitting in his house, receiving a knock on the door and answering it to find Gandalf there. This was a scene which was in the beginning of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; it almost encourages the idea of marathon-watching.

An Unexpected Journey begins with old Bilbo as well and includes Frodo going to meet Gandalf. The Battle of the Five Armies essentially ends with the same scene from The Fellowship of the Ring.

As an overall movie, Battle of the Five Armies stood well in the fact that it was the third act of The Hobbit story. As a story by itself, however, it could not stand. I felt that if The Hobbit had been turned into two movies with a shorter beginning and a shorter end battle, it could have been more true to the book.

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