Wow that was a rollecoaster of a film and a great film at that, The final entry in The Hobbit trilogy, Battle Of the Five Armies sets up events to come in LOTR nicely while satisfyingly concluding the Dwarf centric plot arc, as well Smaug and the overall power struggle for Erebor/the lonely mountain.
Immediately the film starts off with a darker and more serious tone, the stakes are obviously higher in this film as we know we’ll be seeing how Bilbos’ great adventure ends and how the fight with Smaug ends, which by the way starts straight away and carries on for a few minutes. Smaug looked and sounded great once again, being quite expressive and terrifying and even with me knowing the outcome of Smaugs’ attack on Laketown, at points he did seem genuinely un-killable. The visual effects were fantastic as well, this isn’t the best thing to say but Laketown on fire looked fantastic, the CGI was great, Smaugs’ attack is cut short by that black arrow to its’ hide shot by Bard of course and the whole thing felt a bit short in the end.
But that just goes to show you the scope of the movie, the fact that Smaugs’ attack and defeat covers about 10 minutes, it’s even before The Hobbits’ title credits, but back to the story, the Laketown survivors leave the burnt out town and seek to rebuild and seek refuge in the lonely mountain, wanting a piece of the treasures there. Meanwhile the Dwarves in the mountain and Thorin go about their business, with Thorin slowly going mad, Thorins’ gradual decay as a result of dragon sickness and the love of gold was fascinating to watch and a huge part of the story, more to come on that.
I thought that Battle Of The Five Armies wouldn’t be as deep or emotional as it was in the end, considering the film title and the fact that it did feature a lot of action, though it was great, entertaining action, the stakes were higher than ever. And it pained me as a big Hobbit fan to later see the deaths of Filli, Killi and Thorin, this film clearly didn’t mess around and was in stark contrast in tone to the Dwarves cartoonishly fighting orcs in barrels in The Desolation Of Smaug. There is a pervading sense of loss in the film from the first minute with Smaugs’ attack and a sense that the end won’t be all sunshine and roses, but the journey to get to that end point is entertaining and gripping throughout.
The tone of the film never felt too dark and it was still great to watch, seeing the wizards of middle earth and Elrond in action was awesome as well, even Saruman kicked some ass which was cool, seeing Galadriel go toe to toe somewhat with an ethereal Sauron was sweet. I also like how the film set up but didn’t give you massive winks and nudges about the LOTR storyline, yes Tharanduil told Legolas to go and find Aragorn and we see Bilbo use the ring once or twice but the hints weren’t glaring at all, which was nice.
The action overall was great, a bit crazy and all over the place at times in typical Peter Jackson LOTR fashion with mountain trolls, Dwarves, Elves, mountain trolls, orcs, goblins and all fighting and it was awesome. I loved the chaotic feel to it and it really highlighted the fantasy element of the LOTR franchise, one of the things that makes me such a big fan. The Elves played more of role in this film, helping the Dwarves sort of, after threatening to attack them for some gold but hey, it’s awesome seeing them in action and actually doing something. The build up to the battle itself felt a bit more natural as well, the Elves, Men and Dwarves all coming to Erebor with legitimate claims to the gold, it was a complex situation and seeing some of the ‘politics’ in Middle Earth was a nice touch.
Oh and of course the Orcs commanded by Azog just come there to kill everyone that’s not them, but they also wanted Erebor as well, to use a base of operations, popular mountain.
As far as the acting went, it was great, Richard Armitage as Thorin gave a fantastic and multi-faceted performance which was interesting as you’re lead to believe that he’s only on the way down, driven crazy by dragon sickness but no, Thorin does make a return and it is epic, easily one of the highlights of the film. Bilbo is still a big part of the story and all, using the Arkenstone as a bargaining chip to get Thorin to not go to war with the Elves, but that storyline is cut short by the emergence of the Orcs and Azog, who seriously takes 3 films to get killed but he does get killed, finally.
The film was fantastic overall but pacing near the end was a slight issue, the people in the theatre I could see around me did all look a bit bored, as I was to be honest with the concluding moments but up until that point, I was hooked, gripped and thoroughly entertained. The highs and lows of Battle Of The Five Armies easily trump the events in the first two Hobbit films in my opinion, the action was much better, the stakes were higher and it was great to see more depth to some of the Dwarves, Thorin especially, though more of Dain would have been nice.
. The action was brilliant, best fight scenes in The Hobbit trilogy. Though the first two had some great scenes as well
. The scope of the film didn’t make the plot lose focus and it was still solidly entertaining
. Pacing near the end was a real issue
. The conclusion to Smaugs’ story felt rushed and anti-climactic as the first two films were mainly about him