The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
In 2001, Peter Jackson released The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the first in a planned trilogy of films based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel series. Thirteen years and six films later and Jackson has completed his journey throughout Middle-earth with the release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, bringing Bilbo Baggins’ story to a close and wrapping up one of the most epic fantasies in all of Hollywood.

The Battle of the Five Armies jumps immediately into the action. Unlike An Unexpected Journey or The Desolation of Smaug, there are no flashbacks or unnecessary exposition to fill audiences in on what has happened up until this point. The film kicks off with Smaug’s destruction of Laketown, with Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) rising up to become the hero and save the day. Everything from the previous film is rather quickly resolved as Smaug is defeated and the dwarves reclaim the Lonely Mountain.

It’s a bit surprising to see Smaug’s portion of the story come to an end within the first 10 minutes of the film after seeing everything being built up to this grand finale battle between Smaug and the dwarves in the previous film. It all feels rushed, which is actually saying a lot for a film that is comprised of one third of a book. Then again, this is The Battle of The Five Armies so it’s somewhat expected that Smaug’s chapter be wrapped up quickly.

The core of the film centers around the aftermath of Smaug’s defeat as now the massive hoard of gold the dragon was guarding is now up for grabs. While Thorin (Richard Armitage) and his company lay rightful claim to the treasure, nearly everyone in Middle-earth, from the elves of Mirkwood led by Thranduil (Lee Pace) to the people of Laketown led by Bard, wants a piece of the pie. Meanwhile, the Necromancer’s army of orcs led by Azog, have grown in numbers and are marching towards the mountain to begin their siege. The film is essentially one massive battle between everyone we’ve seen throughout The Hobbit trilogy.

Besides the constant threat of war, the film also focuses on the relationship between Thorin and Bilbo (Martin Freeman). Thorin has grown to not only accept Bilbo as part of the company over the course of the previous films but views him as a close friend now. Having an endless cavern of gold changes people, dragon-sickness as it’s called, and Thorin develops a greedy compulsion for wealth and for finding the Arkenstone. It drives him to madness, much like the effect the One Ring has on those it comes into contact with.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies doesn’t hold anything back, combining some of the trilogy’s best action scenes with a decent amount of character development. It can be a little overwhelming, however, as there’s so much going on it can be easy to get lost in the madness. Many of the dwarves and other minor characters feel left out and don’t make much of an appearance. Still, The Battle of the Five Armies is a fitting conclusion to the trilogy and to Peter Jackson’s franchise as a whole.
Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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