review: the hobbit: the battle of the five armies (2014)

I don’t understand why The Hobbit film trilogy has been getting so much hate. I mean, a lot of the hate is geared towards the fact that the filmmakers have extended a single book into 3 long feature films, therefore adding several additional storylines, and exaggerating some events – something that had to be done to fill the 8 or so total hours included in the trilogy. And The Hobbit readers are not accepting these plot manipulations. However, I personally haven’t read the books, so my review is purely on the film only – with no inside information regarding the novel that this series is based off of.

And I’ve liked every single one of the films. So there.

Synopsis (IMDB): Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the Lonely Mountain from falling into the hands of a rising darkness.

The films aren’t perfect, and I realize what I like and don’t like about them, but I do believe that these are truly well-made films.

Again – I have embedded some SPOILER tags within this post, if you haven’t seen the film and want to skim over those points, but read at your own risk.

WHAT I LIKED.

How they actually started right where we left off.
I absolutely hate it when film sequels start off like, a few days after the conclusion of its predecessor, or 5 years later. It just gets me very confused, and since sequels are generally released a year after its previous film, I usually don’t really remember exactly where we left off. This last instalment of the Hobbit literally started the second after Smaug’s release, giving me a great first impression of the film, right off the bat.

The transition into the battle of the five armies. (SPOILER, kind of)
I was very impressed at how efficiently, but also effectively, they resolved the storyline with Smaug and transitioned into the final battle plotline. It wasn’t like they just threw away the dragon to continue on with the Company’s journey, but made Smaug’s death seem significant, as well as insignificant. His death was epic, but also obviously not the climax of the film.

The battle scenes.
Prior to watching this film, I was warned via friends, and other reviews that this film included significantly more battle scenes than the previous 2 films. This made me really apprehensive to be honest – I didn’t want to watch another LOTR: The Two Towers, full of no plot and just battle, because I really didn’t like it and thought it was so dull. However, in The Battle of the Five Armies, Peter Jackson did such a great job at interweaving bits of plot into the huge battle, that it didn’t seem a whole hour of onscreen battling. I honestly didn’t even get the impression that there was that much battle screen-time, because it was all delivered to us in little bits – and every battle scene had its purpose. It made the battle MUCH more interesting than what it would have been if it was just an hour of nonstop war.

The diversity of the soldiers in the battle.
Obviously, there were 5 armies involved, including the dwarves, elves, men of Dale, goblins, and wargs. But there was more than that. Within these armies, there were eagles, there were giants, etc. The diversity of creatures involved just made the battle sequences so much more cinematically pleasing, and kept things interesting. Rather than just seeing soldiers stabbing and shooting each other, there were people being snatched up into the sky, and boulders being catapulted from giants’ backs.

The elves and the men, together.
Ok, mostly Bard interacting with Thranduil. Because Bard is beautiful and is definitely cool enough to be an elf.

Richard Armitage.
This is just a given. Richard Armitage is brilliant, and I couldn’t ask for a better Thorin. He did an amazing job at portraying Thorin’s “dragon sickness”, and later snapping out of it, leading the Company back into battle. His deep voice and undeniable King-ly-ness are just irresistible.

SPOILERS BELOW!!!
The deaths.
Again, obviously I am never happy when a character that I like dies – but they presented the deaths to us very well. I found myself being that annoying person in the theatre gasping out loud whenever anything happened, and was struggling against tears when Fili, and then Kili had their lives cut short. For some reason however, Thorin’s death didn’t get me very emotional – where I feel like his death should have been the biggest deal.

Azog under the ice.
Ok, so it was pretty predictable that he was still alive when floating under the ice layer. There was no way he was killed that easily. But the imagery of Azog floating under the ice as Thorin followed from above was just so aesthetically pleasing, I loved the way they did this.

WHAT I WAS ON THE FENCE ABOUT.

The thing between Tauriel and Kili.
I liked the idea of it, and really wanted to like them together. However, I just love Legolas, so I did find myself rooting for him, even though he doesn’t have his LOTR Legolas charm yet, in this series. I also just found no chemistry between Aidan Turner (Kili) and Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel). They were both great at portraying their roles, and did their jobs in establishing their characters and motives, but I didn’t believe the romance between the two. I honestly wish this subplot didn’t exist – it just weakened the overall film, and really wasn’t necessary in terms of building the overall story.

The panoramic shots.
Don’t get me wrong – there were beautiful shots in this film. However, the cinematography in the landscape shots in the first two Hobbit films were far more superior, and I expected bigger things, seeing as this was the “epic conclusion” to the trilogy. The film was beautiful, but I didn’t get that “wow” feeling that I was waiting for. AND I watched this in IMAX 3D.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE.

The ending. (SPOILER I guess?)
They just didn’t sum everything up long enough. There was a hint of Peter Jackson’s infamous long, drawn out endings – what with Bilbo’s return to the Shire, the unnecessary nonsense with the auction scene, and the nice ending with the transition into the beginning of the LOTR story. However, while Bilbo’s journey was concluded nicely, everyone else was sort of left (quite literally) in the wreckage and ruins of the battle. We saw shots of the Company, and the men of Dale sort of looking onto the destruction, and had some nice conclusion with the Tauriel/Legolas/Thranduil story, but with everyone else, I just wanted a little something more. Not sure what exactly what I wanted, but I left slightly unsatisfied. Some may argue that everyone else’s stories weren’t actually that important and didn’t need a conclusion, and they might be correct – but why did I leave the theatre with the feeling that the story hadn’t ended? I mean, I guess the end of this trilogy just signified the beginning of the dark age seen in the LOTR series, but I feel like I was expecting at least a bit more of a conclusion to the end of this series.

FINAL COMMENTS.

So this film wasn’t perfect, and didn’t FULLY measure up to the epic trilogy ending that it should have been, but it was pretty well done, and I am very impressed at the plot vs. battle ratio. My attention was captured right from the start of the film, and I didn’t snap out of it until the movie had ended. Great job, and to be honest, I don’t think the perfect film would have met my expectations. I was aiming pretty high.

To all you Hobbit film haters, stop hating, and just enjoy our last journey to Middle Earth :)

just my rating: ★★★★½

Other reviews on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
The GamerPhile – “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”: Once More, into Madness and Mayhem
Scenes and Pages – Review and Discussion: The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
The Two-Woman Crusade – … Come to Journey’s End

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4 thoughts on “review: the hobbit: the battle of the five armies (2014)

  1. Great review! Yeah I don’t understand why so many other people and critics, love to hate on The Hobbit. Part of me can’t help feeling that it’s all part of some hate bandwagon that people are on. Thanks for linking my review to your blog!

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