We’ve come to the end of road for new releases of Middle-earth based movies, and I find myself happy to see the movie while also being sad that it’s the end. We of course do have the Extended Edition that will come out next year so we have that to look forward to. I’ve had a chance to see this twice already and I’ve walked away loving it each time. I’m going to copy the format my fellow staffer Garfeimao used to give my thoughts on various moments.
Unlike the previous two movies The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies jumps right into the action. The pace of this movie moves every bit as quick as The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug if not a little bit quicker, and the movie is shorter, as well, coming in at 2 hours and 24 minutes long (with credits). As has been the case with the entire trilogy, there is some really good stuff and some stuff I can’t say I’m a fan of. However, I love this series and how all of it came out and have enjoyed the journey we’ve all taken to get to this point. I will say this movie is going to set the discussions ablaze with how much it does veer off the normal path of Tolkien, but I do feel it still captures the proper feel of the world I love. The end of this one is beautiful and a nice emotional beat as we close out the movie, and then we of course have the credits that match The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Overall, I think this movie is a total winner and I will be seeing it multiple times before it leaves theaters.
I would easily give this movie and the trilogy itself an 8.5/10.
Things I liked:
1. I love the Laketown stuff. Smaug taking out the town is pretty darn impressive but it only picks up once we get to Bard v. Smaug. Smaug is of course arrogant as always especially after Bard has tried his best to take him out with a regular bow/arrow combo. It is a touch different with Bain entering the picture but he does bring the Black Arrow to the party. I also liked that the windlance isn’t used in the killing of Smaug. The makeshift bow Bard has to make while using Bain to steady it I thought was quite perfect. As was watching Smaug come crashing down on Laketown while also taking out the Master.
2. Dol Guldur – I loved this sequence. It is something I’ve wanted to see since I read The White Council takes on the Necromancer. I love the stealth mode in which Galadriel gets into Dol Guldur, and surprises the original Bolg look. Her showing a short burst of power was pretty awesome. Then we get Saruman and Elrond who join the fight taking on the Ringwraiths. Both of those guys put on a heck of a fight and I love the look they went with on the Ringwraiths. I also love how the Ringwraiths, even after being defeated, are brought back by Sauron. It fits with Gollum telling Frodo they cannot be killed. They can be defeated but not killed as we saw during The Lord of the Rings.
We also get to see Galadriel in full power mode, which we get a glimpse of in The Fellowship of the Ring. This time she really flexes her muscle and shows why when Frodo tempts her with the ring it would be a really BAD thing if she took it. I also like that we see Sauron having to flee to Mordor to start the process over, which we see during The Lord of the Rings.
3. Azog/Bolg both are really awesome I think. I love the battle changes they both get in this movie and how they look. Especially the switch out weapon Azog got and the description we got in the new Weta Chronicles book. Basically he ripped the other out and put this one in. I know these two have caught a lot of crap for being CGI, but I think they look fantastic. I find myself forgetting they’re CGI and think they’re about as real as they can get.
4. One of the moments I loved is the conference between Bilbo, Gandalf, Bard, and Thranduil when Bilbo gives them the Arkenstone. It is yet another moment that I think we’ve all been waiting to see and it comes out perfectly. You have all this power in the room trying to decide what exactly the best route is and in steps Bilbo. This little hobbit who so loves his friends is willing to offer something that might get him hurt as a peace offering. Thranduil just trashes the Dwarves and Bilbo steps and reminds them how great really they are. I just love this part as I think it reminds us all that all our friends have faults but they also have many positives.
5. Thorin’s fall is FANTASTIC! All along we’ve gotten a nicer version of him with bits here and there of what is to come. I’ve been eager to see this all come to life and Richard Armitage does such a great job with it. He finally becomes that dark mean character from the book. He questions the loyalty of those around him, wants to toss Bilbo off the edge of the blockade, and just the greed you see from him even while battle is on his doorstep. It’s as if the gold itself is like the Ring and corrupts him to nearly beyond coming back.
6. Thorin’s return is something I also really enjoyed. He and the dried gold that they used to trap Smaug are really well done. I love how as he looks at this he feels like he is being swallowed by the lust for gold and that his greed is almost too much. This to me is fitting with how we approach money and let it consume us. He comes out of it though and realizes he is becoming like Thror.
7. Bilbo and Thorin have a couple of nice moments during all of this. I love the scene with the acorn and the brief moment of Thorin coming out of the Dragon Sickness. It’s nice to see these two share that they’ve been in a journey and respect each other. I also love seeing Bilbo get the Mithril Shirt. The impact that shirt has after we go into The Fellowship of the Ring is huge.
8. The Battle itself is really cool. I love that there are fights going all over the place and that it isn’t bigger in scale than the fights we get in The Lord of the Rings. You’ve got some great moments where you have the Dwarves showing off their power as well as the Elves showing off just how awesome they are. Mix those together and it makes for some great fighting. Then of course you have the men lead by Bard who show that you can’t take fishermen as a weak army. Of course you have all the Orcs, Goblins, Trolls, and bats. They’re just so cool! One complaint I’ve seen of this is we only get small bits of the whole battle. This isn’t any different than The Lord of the Rings films. We’re always up close in those instead of just focusing on the entire battle.
9. The Trolls and various Orcs. I really like all the designs we got. They look darn cool, IMO. I think they all are things that could exist in Middle-earth and I cannot wait to see Weta make statues of them and add them to my collection. I especially like the Trolls with the catapults on their back.
10. Legolas has been an awesome addition to these films. I love him in this movie to be honest. We get to start to see Legolas become the Elf that goes to The Council of Elrond, as well as why he cares for Aragorn so much. The move he does with the Bat is totally awesome, IMO. For me it is no different than anything we’ve seen from him before so I just rolled into those moments. I also think it’s funny we finally see him run out of arrows and what he does when he doesn’t have them. The rematch of him v. Bolg is also pretty darn good. You’ve got another Legolas moment with him and the stone steps. Maybe take the slow mo part out but it’s a neat moment. Of course when he finally kills Bolg that’s a fist pump moment for me. Even if it is different than how Bolg dies in the book.
11. The deaths of Fili and Kili are sad as we knew they would be. They don’t die protecting Thorin but defending those around them. Maybe not the way we thought it would end but a fitting end nonetheless.
12. Thorin finally gets to take on Azog. They duke it out on the ice, which is a change from the book but I really like this. I enjoyed the process of the final moments as Azog gives Thorin the killing blow with Thorin realizing he must sacrifice himself for this to end. Thus allowing him to finally end Azog and save his line from annihilation
13. I do like that Bilbo gets to participate in the battle instead of just getting knocked out at the start. I also like that he tosses the stones, which is a nice touch with how we know Hobbits can toss a rock. He does get knocked out, which is nice to see that come into play as well.
14. Bilbo saying goodbye is short but sweet. It’s touching because we see just how much they all care. That Bilbo now will welcome a house full of Dwarves anytime, which is different than how he started.
15. Thranduil telling Legolas about Aragorn. I love this line to be honest. As I said earlier it helps explain why Legolas is protective of Aragorn at The Council of Elrond.
16. The chat between Bilbo and Gandalf was quite nice. It reminded me of the chat they have in the first film before Bilbo decides to not go on the journey. Some nice lines from the book happen here as well reminding Bilbo he’s just a small part in this world. I also like the bit talking about rings because we know Gandalf knew Bilbo found a magic ring, and it works with the shock of Gandalf realizing it’s The One Ring.
17. For me the auction was a funny quick moment that was nice to see. The part though that made it stand out for me is when Bilbo is asked about Thorin. That right there shows the quality of this Hobbit.
18. The Last Goodbye by Billy Boyd is perfect. It fits the end of this trilogy as well as the trip we’ve been on through six films. What an amazing ride and I’m so glad we went on it. I also love the end credits and how they match what we got before. A fantastic end.
Here are a few things I didn’t care for just so folks don’t think I thought this was perfect.
Things I didn’t care for:
1. I think the love stuff was a little thicker in this movie than I care for. I didn’t feel it was that way in film two but in this one it was between Kili/Tauriel. I also didn’t care for the kiss at the end.
2. The lack of Beorn. He’s not my favorite character but again we don’t get much. We’re getting more of him in the EE but we couldn’t get more in this?
3. I could have lived without Alfrid dressing as a girl. I didn’t mind him otherwise but that was just a bit silly to be honest.
4. I also wish the movie was longer because we didn’t get some closure to certain moments. Again, I expect we will see them in the EE but I want them now.
Join us in Los Angeles in February at The One Last Party
We’re hosting a Party of Special Magnificence next February — a toast to all SIX movies, both LOTR trilogy and The Hobbit.