The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

 

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

 

I was a bit skeptical heading into this trilogy, because it's a stretch to take a short children's book and transform it into a nine hour saga. But I loved nearly everything about this final installment. It has more heart than the first two films combined and its smaller moments are actually those that stick with you long after the sounds of battle and the glamour of a thousand elves in perfect synchronization have faded. It's a solid film and a perfect ending to the saga.

 

The immense dragon Smaug lays waste to the town on the banks of the river. With Bard (Luke Evans) trapped in a prison cell and his guards making a run for it, it seems there is no one to defend against the dragon. The elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lily) is trying to get survivors out. And in the mountain, all the dwarves can do is watch and wait ... while Thorin (Richard Armitage) slowly goes insane from dragon fever. The mountains of gold piled inside the ancient towers possess an unusual hold over the young dwarf king, who becomes obsessed with obtaining the Arkenstone, the heart of the mountain and his birthright. The hobbit Bilbo (Martin Freeman) withholds it from him, fearing that it will increase his madness and turn him even more to the darkness ... but it may be too late. Thorin's emotions are shifting to paranoia and distrust, and bordering on violence.

 

The elf-queen Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) mounts an assault on an ancient fallen fortress to rescue Gandalf (Ian McKellen), not realizing her presence will stir an ancient evil from its sleep. And once the dragon is felled through an act of courage, word of his defeat spreads across Middle-earth, arousing the interest of the elf-king Thranduil (Lee Pace), who greatly desires a certain box of gems under the mountain, and the interest of the rising orc-armies, who see the mountain fortress as an important vantage point in their increasing desire for war. Before long, five armies converge, forces align, enemies arise, friendships are forged, and the first battle against the creeping darkness begins.

 

Plot threads are wrapped up, old faces return for brief exchanges, Legolas (Orlando Bloom) reminds us yet again of his mad skills, and the groundwork is laid for the impending events of The Lord of the Rings.  I had some idea of what to expect and the director more than delivered it, throwing in some emotional upheavals and moments that make this film stronger than either of the two preceding it. At last, we see a true bond forged, tested, wearied, and then remade between Thorin and Bilbo. More than that, we see elven alliances tested and unearth the reason for Thranduil's distaste for war. We bid tearful farewells to friends we have made, and sniffle a bit more at reconciliations. Yes, it is flawed. The romance between an elf and a dwarf continues to be silly, but leads to a magnificent moment between Thranduil and Tauriel that broke my heart. The pacing is better than its predecessor but the battle scenes still go on for too long; but this time I didn't mind. It brings us full circle, back to the beginning ... from the burning town on a lake to the comforts of Bag End. I feel that, alongside Bilbo, I have been on a grand adventure. I'm merely sorry it has to end.
  
Sexual Content:
None.
 
Language:
Several uses of "buggars" and one of "bastards."
 
Violence:
Orcs, men, dwarves, and elves do battle with one another, with enormous casualties. A full 45 minutes of battle scenes in which characters are stabbed, shot with arrows, orcs are beheaded, etc. Several main characters engage in brutal hand to hand combat; other main characters are stabbed and die.

Other:
Galadriel uses immense power that alters her appearance into that of a dark force, to dispel an ancient evil from a castle; Saruman uses magic to fend off evil.