The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies- A fitting end to Jackson’s time in Middle Earth

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a wonderfully fun romp through Middle Earth one last time. There is thrills, spills and fun to be had for all the family! I will be the first to admit it, when I heard Peter Jackson intended to stretch The Hobbit novel into three feature length films, I thought well that just won’t work! What with the novel only weighing in at 368 pages.

But by jove he has went and pulled it off! Granted there is a lot of filler in there which Jackson has pulled from The Return of the King lore (I won’t dare to try and explain said lore- but if you are intrigued check out the background story info here) but by the by, he has put together a trilogy of epic proportions.

The Unexpected Journey, the first film in the trilogy for me was the weakest.

It felt very stretched, and it was clear that Jackson was very much aware of the fact he didn’t have as much source material to work with. The film struggled to keep me hooked. The story at times was non exsistent. I found myself thinking; “have I really just sat through 15 minutes of 13 Dwarves, a Wizard and a Hobbit sitting around enjoying a spot of tea and cheese”?

It admittedly picked up again towards the end of the film, with the battle scenes between the party of Thorin Oaknshield and his 12 Dwarven warriors against Azog the Defiler and his band of rag-tag Orcs.

Still, it had the warmth of the original Lord of the Rings films, seeing old favourites like Gandalf on screen really brought for me an overriding sense of nostalgia from my childhood, having grown up loving Jackson’s original trilogy.This alone was a marvellous selling point and certainly enough to get me to buy into the seeing the whole trilogy.

Smaug, King under the mountain no more
Smaug, King under the mountain no more

Now, the Desolation of Smaug was a real high point for me. I loved it. Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal as the dragon Smaug was simply stunning.He brings the beast alive with such reverence for the source material- I am sure fans of Tolkien’s novel will have imagined Smaug exactly how Cumberbatch portrayed the beast.

With me being such a fan of Smaug, the opening pre-credits sequence to The Battle of the Five Armies was both a spectacle and a treat for me.

*Spolier-if you haven’t saw The Desolation of Smaug yet the following paragraphs contain spoilers!

As we know, the second film left off with Thorin and the Dwarves back in control of Erebor. Smaug left vengeful and heading for Laketown ready to set ablaze all in sight.

Well the TBOFA picks back up right where the second film left off. Smaug flying over head, Bard locked in his cell and Tauriel the Elf caring for his kids and some of the Dwarf party that remained.

I have to say my mouth was aghast whilst beholding the opening sequence. Smaug raining terror down on the wooden town, perfectly rendered CGI flames engulfing all in its path.

It felt like the ending of the second film though, rather than the exposition of the third. But as aforementioned I feel Jackson really was aware of how much time he had to fill with not a lot of story with this final film.

And that would have to be my only gripe with this film. It didn’t really have a story to it. Fair enough it is a considerable gripe to have, but the epic spectacle of the film for me anyway allowed me still to enjoy it.

And after all is The Hobbit not what we consider an “event film” anyway? Of the same ilk as the Harry Potter films, or the original LOTR trilogy. By which I mean films we spend months anticipating, and then when it finally arrives we are that pumped to see it nothing can stop us enjoying it.

Plus TBOTFA is such a fantastically big film it is impossible not to enjoy! The battles of which there are plenty are such a magnificent thing to behold, a real throwback to The Return of the King final action sequence for me was the final act in TBOTFA.

And that is what hides the fact that in all honesty, there isn’t a story here at all…really!

Five armies all who feel they have a claim to the hordes of gold and treasure left behind by the Smaug within the mountain. And that is it, honestly, thats the story right there for you. Unless of course you throw in Thorin’s dragon sickness. Which we won’t because it is kind of ridiculous and soon forgotten in the final third of the film.

But you like me won’t care (I would like to think so anyway) because you are too wrapped up in everything that is taking place on screen. The build up to the fight sequences, the fight sequences themselves and the tense dialogue back and forth between the main characters. There is some comic relief to be had in there also through the character Alfrid (Ryan Gage). The detestable village idiot who you will remember from the second film as the yellow toothed right hand of the Master of Laketown played by Stephen Fry. Look out for him in a bonnet and a corset.

All in all The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a fitting end to a time which quite frankly has defined entertainment for my generation. It started back in 2001 with The Fellowship of the Ring and all comes to an end here. I implore you to see it. You will not regret it!

Marks 9/10

Good- Action sequences, nostalgic blast through Middle Earth, wonderful characters.

Bad- Over reliance on CGI at times, lack of story.

The film is on release across all cinemas now!

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