The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

And so it ends.

I went to see The Battle of The Five Armies this past Saturday in 3D, a format I still feel unnecessary and gimmicky although I will admit to some pretty cool effects because of it (that snow!!). There’s no denying that The Hobbit trilogy has been inferior to The Lord of the Rings but it’s still been an entertaining film series and The Battle of the Five Armies was a solid finish, if a bit unsatisfying at times.

Spoiler Alert! I will be talking about what happens in this movie so if you haven’t seen it and/or haven’t read the book, you might want to hold off reading this until you have done one or both. Unless you just don’t care, in which case keep reading!

Here’s some of the good:

  • Smaug. Smaug Smaug Smaug. Is it too late to make a movie solely about him? A prequel or a movie from his perspective, something like that? Because that character is excellent. His design, his voice, just his absolutely magnificent self. And when he dies, well, I might have teared up a bit.
  • Defeating the Necromancer. Not actually in the book, this is part of the White Council storyline added from the appendices. It’s fantastic to see how powerful Galadriel is. And while I’ve seen some criticism (since the first Desolation of Smaug trailer actually) about how flirty Gandalf and Galadriel are, I disagree with that strongly. They are two of the most powerful beings in Middle-earth and are also good friends. I see no reason to think that their deep affection for each other has anything slightly romantic about it.
  • Bard and Thranduil. Luke Evans and Lee Pace were perfect choices. It’s no wonder that Bard became the leader of Laketown and it was nice to see the beginnings of those leadership qualities in Bain as well. And Thranduil was still his weirdly fabulous self but we got to see the Elvenking in action here rather than just the cautious recluse.
  • Bilbo. This probably should go without saying but Martin Freeman as Bilbo was an inspired choice.

There were several things about this movie that bothered me, like how little we saw of Bilbo, the confused battle scenes, and the open ending of most of the story lines.  By the end of the film there’s a lot left unexplained and I don’t know if this is because of bad storytelling, or perhaps that Peter Jackson didn’t want to make the same mistake he was accused of with Return of the King where there were about 10 endings (all good and necessary in my opinion though). I’m hoping we get the closure I’m wanting in the extended edition. For example, what happens to Tauriel? Does she go to the North with Legolas to look for the Dunedain? Is she still banished? Why did we only see Beorn and Radagast for just long enough to register that they were at the battle? Granted, Beorn’s change was pretty cool but then…we never see him again. Could Fili and Kili not have had a better ending? I don’t mean the manner in which they were killed, but the last we see of them is just laying where they fell. At least Thorin was given the respect of a show of grief when found by the other dwarves. And what of Bard and the other survivors of Laketown? At the end of the battle, they are just looking at the front gate of the Lonely Mountain. I’m really (really, really) hoping that these questions are answered with the material added to the extended edition but even then- the theatrical version shouldn’t be just a first draft for the “real” movie we see with the extended version.

For a better and more in-depth review, you can’t do better than Sorina Higgins’ for Christianity Today. And be sure to read her follow up post on what exactly is missing from the movie, some of which I’ve mentioned above.

What did y’all think?

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12 thoughts on “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

  1. jubilare says:

    I’ve yet to see it, I need to steel myself. What threatens to make me cry, though, is the apparent lack of resolution to Thorin’s story… is there any resolution between him and Bilbo? The thought of the arkenstone not being buried with him upsets me, too. 😦

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    • Mary says:

      Since you read this, I’m assuming you don’t care about spoilers? So here’s another one: there is resolution between Thorin and Bilbo. I suppose I should have mentioned that because that was actually a strong point of this film, their relationship. And Thorin asking for forgiveness and Bilbo’s reaction- well, I got a bit emotional. As to Thorin and the arkenstone- we don’t know that he wasn’t buried with the arkenstone! Honestly, we don’t know anything about his burial- they might have just left him where he fell. But this means you can just imagine what happens! (I really, really, really hope the extended edition cleans everything up a bit neater.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • jubilare says:

        There are very few occasions where I mind spoilers, much to the chagrin of some of my friends. 🙂

        That… is a relief to hear. I’m really hoping I can enjoy the film, and that gives me some hope!

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      • Mary says:

        I only care about spoilers if I care about the material. So for something like this- I want to know as little as possible.

        I hope you post your thoughts on it once you see it- I know you’ve been disappointed with the movies on the whole but hopefully you’ll find some good bits in this, even if you don’t like all of it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • jubilare says:

        Even if I care about the material, I rarely find that spoilers decrease my enjoyment, and sometimes they even increase it as I catch more nuances. 🙂 The exception is when there is some great mystery to be unraveled.

        I’ve got of lot of venom to pour over the last installment, but I’ve been holding off until I watch it again. Perhaps this one will be a little less problematic for me. Right now, my biggest problems are 1. that they call it “The Hobbit” when our dear Bilbo plays such a small part, and 2. that there seems to be a lot of sloppiness going around. LotR was very intentional and well-thought-out. These movies seem lazy in comparison.

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  2. Mary says:

    This movie was definitely the sloppiest because of all the open endings, which is quite strange actually, when you consider how much material was in the first film that could have easily been left out. And here we’re left wanting more! And while I agree with you that calling this “The Hobbit” was a bit, well, incorrect, I understand Jackson and Co. wanting to use up as much Tolkien related material as possible.

    And I’m not sure that lazy is really the right word to describe these. I truly think Jackson meant to make a trilogy of movies just as good as LotR. But, and I’ve mentioned this in earlier reviews, The Hobbit is NOT LotR and no addition of extra material is going to give it that importance. So maybe misguided is a better word?

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    • jubilare says:

      Aye, and the title certainly makes it more marketable. I do understand, I just don’t like it. 😉

      I… I really think lazy is the right word. I will expound on that a lot when I finally review the second installment, but I can offer a little here. Are you familiar with the concept of fridge logic: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main.FridgeLogic

      Fridge Logic is a result of lazy storytelling. Fantasy and Sci-fi get a long leash, so long as they are internally consistent, they can get away with murdering otherwise universal laws. If, and only if, they are logical within the world they have created.

      So, if we ignore Tolkien’s books and focus simply on the world created by Jackson in his films (as we should), we find the Hobbit films contradicting the LotR films. In LotR we establish that the wraiths have Morgul blades, that a wound from these blades can turn one into a wraith, and that even athelas isn’t enough to reverse the effects.

      Then, in the Hobbit, one of the dwarves is stabbed with what is, from its effects, a morgul blade carried by your standard orc… which is then healed by an ordinary elf soldier (instead of a master-healer using every ounce of his skill, as established in the first film) using an apparently magical healing herb that people ignore and feed to pigs, despite the fact that they must consistently need it to heal wounds from fighting orcs. Then, there’s the question of why there aren’t thousands of little wraiths running around from all the people turned from wars with orcs. The problems go on.

      If there were just one or two slips of this kind, it wouldn’t be a big problem. Every storyteller may slip up now and again. But there is a pattern of internal-consistency failure in the Hobbit movies. Patterns like that don’t appear unless someone doesn’t care enough to think the script through. 😦 It pains me to say it. LotR was pretty tightly written, internally consistent. For some reason, that attention to detail didn’t transfer between trilogies.

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      • Mary says:

        Ok maybe lazy is the right word for it. That whole bit with Tauriel as a healer seemed to me as Jackson’s attempt to mirror it with the Frodo healing scene, i.e. another attempt to try and increase the importance of The Hobbit story. So you’re right, it doesn’t really make sense, even within the story.

        It really makes me wonder if this series would have been better as 2 movies like originally planned. A lot of the extra fluff and non-Hobbit additions would have been left out and perhaps these movies would have been a bit closer in quality to LotR. Maybe.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jubilare says:

        Maybe, indeed. We may never know. I’d be much happier if they’d made tighter movies, even if they deviated even more from the book than they have. An adaptation doesn’t have to be slavishly faithful to be good, but it’s helpful if it is faithful to itself!

        I’d almost like to see (if the Tolkien estate would allow such a thing) Jackson make Middle Earth movies involving stories Tolkien never explored. You know what I mean? Like, what if they expounded on the story of Haleth? http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Haleth
        or some tale from the Rangers before the Return of the King? There’s no end of possibility, and maybe with such a story he could create a more focused and tightly-written film.

        …Hey, I can dream, right? 😉

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      • Mary says:

        Oh man, if he was allowed to start telling stories from all the extra Tolkien stuff, that would be amazing! I’m honestly surprised one of the premium TV channels hasn’t started looking into doing a miniseries of The Silmarillion. Or maybe they have? But I guess there’s all kinds of issues with the Tolkien estate and maybe they figure The Silmarillion is too much effort and only the most die hard of Tolkien fans would be interested.

        *sigh* We can dream…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Briana says:

    Before seeing the movie I was fairly certain Tauriel was going to die because, well, Legolas is in love with her and she clearly isn’t in The Lord of the Rings. But since she didn’t, I am pretty baffled what her future will be.

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    • Mary says:

      That’s what I thought too! That she would either die in the battle or sail to the Undying Lands. But we just leave her. No hint at where she goes after the battle. Maybe we find out in the extended edition? (please please tell us in the extended edition?!?!)

      Like

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