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

Adventure, Fantasy
Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott
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.
Though somewhat overwhelmed by its own spectacle, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ends Peter Jackson's second Middle-earth trilogy on a reasonably satisfying note.
  • Warner Bros. Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 17 Dec 2014 Released:
  • 24 Mar 2015 DVD Release:
  • $253.9M Box office:

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Trailer:

I have no idea what happened1/10
I should begin by saying that I am a big fan of Tolkiens work, and have read LOTR and The Hobbit (and his other books) many times. I did enjoy the first trilogy, and thought that the changes Jackson did to the story were sometimes understandable, sometimes acceptable. However, I have no idea what happened with this movie and the whole second trilogy.

I am terribly disappointed, and I have no idea whether the changes were necessary simply to milk as much money as possible out of the whole project (spreading out the story to get 3 long movies, even if that meant adding many new things), or whether Jackson actually thinks he knows better than Tolkien... knows better how to explain things, how to connect the Hobbit to LOTR, or how to make a compelling story.

And yes, an adaption doesn't HAVE to be close to the book. However, if you mess with the story, if you include things that contradict the whole story, and if you essentially kill off the charm and warmth and concept of the book the movie is based on, things get dangerous.

The Hobbit was a book written for children, and while there are scenes in the trilogy that will definitely be fun for children (the dwarfs offering a lot of those kinda scenes), the violence and amount of killing and cut off heads make me wonder how suitable the movie really is.

However, watching this movie, and having seen the previous ones, these questions came up in my mind:

- Is it really FORBIDDEN to make a movie that Doesn't have a love-story involved? Isn't the Hobbit legendary enough, hasn't the book proved often enough it is a great story without a love-story included? Why did Jackson have to create Tauriel, the female ninja-elf and her love-story with a DWARF? Why did this have to be added? Would the film would have so much more terrible (hard to imagine) without a cliche and badly-written love-story that was added by Jackson and Walsh? - I sincerely think that, if the elvish race is capable of doing the things Tauriel and Legolas do in battle, not only could the small group of elven warriors Jackson added to the battle of Helms Deep in Two Towers have totally defeated the orcish army in less than 2 minutes... the history of Middle-Earth would be very difficult if they all could fight even remotely as well. Also, the fighting skills of Legolas in this movie are totally inconsistent to what he was able to do later on in LOTR. Considering that elves live incredibly long, the amount of time that passed between the Hobbit and Lotr is no explanation of why Legolas is a walking "ninja-god" in the Hobbit and much less superman-like in LOTR. - The incredible length of the scenes... it sincerely feels like the movie team was paid by the minutes of film they produced - The worms... I reckon they are based on a small comment by Bilbo, mentioning "were-worms" (a comment that has often riddled Tolkien-fans). Is this an attempt to somehow win over the fans of Tolkien-lore that feel insulted by Tauriel, the changes to the story, the goats, rabbits and deer-mounts, the fact that the WONDERFUL scene of Beorn appearing at the battle in the book and turning the tide, bringing relief and a change to the battle was kinda removed because the ninja-elves prove that Middle-Earth is located in the Matrix? - I really would feel bad for JRR Tolkien if he was able to watch these movies. He felt so much love for the world and characters he created, and put so much time, effort and feelings into his work. All this now was steamrolled over by the production team of this movie. After the rather respectful handling of LOTR, Jackson changed so much about the Hobbit that it feels totally disrespectful to the lifetime of work Tolkien put into his stories.

What went wrong? Did Jackson think that, in order to attract and convince all those that haven't read the books, he would need to turn a wonderful book, written for children with a lot of warmth and charm, into a medieval Transformers (regarding amount of CGI, length of fights, lack of realism, character depth and taste)?

Did he really think this was in any way a respectful adaption of the work of a man who invested DECADES into writing, refining and perfecting his stories? Who, instead of focusing on just hours of battle, managed to create a world full of lore, charm, and wonderful characters?

I have no idea what went wrong behind the scenes. Have no idea whether the movie studio said "Jackson, forget about what people love about the Hobbit. Turn it into three overlong movies for more profit, get us as many battles and skirmishes as you possibly can milk out of this, and just to make sure, add a love-story (we don't care how you do it), add a popular character from the previous trilogy so people will dig that. Oh yeah, the book was written for children, so make sure there is a song or two, bird poo on the nutty wizard who escaped from Hogwarts (Radagast), a dwarf with a pickax stuck in his skull, and funny bits that children love. But don't forget we want adults to watch it too, so please, add tons of action and cut-off heads, too... gotta hit all those demographics".

I know a lot of Tolkien-fans apparently love this movie and the trilogy. One review even said "...from a true fan". Please don't think this is the case in general. I have grown up reading Tolkiens work, and I am simply stunned by how bad, how tasteless and disrespectful this trilogy is.
Entertaining Popcorn-Cinema - No Less, But Also No More5/10
When I left the movie-theater after seeing it at the midnight-screening of my local theater, I was greatly conflicted about what to think about it. On the one hand, it was great popcorn cinema in that it was very much entertaining and, of course, visually striking. On the other hand, it simply topped my highest expectations about how many scenes made me go: "Aw, you gotta be kidding me...". Those scenes definitely did make me grin and feel some kind of joy, but also they made me shudder - and it just wouldn't stop.

The Lord of the Rings had it's "silly" moments, scenes that made you laugh or grin amidst the seriousness and darkness. I felt that those were refreshing changes of mood, and they are burnt into my mind - Legolas sliding down the stairs on a shield while shooting orcs, Legolas bringing down the Oliphants, Gimly being thrown over to the bridge at Helm's Deep. With The Hobbit, not only, but especially The Battle of the Five Armies, moments like this follow each other like canned laughter on Two and a Half Men. Here, the more serious scenes are a refreshing change to all the cheesiness, the ridiculousness and the exaggertion.

I did like some of the character development especially the inner confliction of Thorin, Thranduil and Bilbo. Yet, the resolutions to these conflicts didn't quite satisfy me, they simply came too quick and too "easy". I feel like this was an aspect where the story could've been made quite a bit more thrilling.

To conclude my major points: The Hobbit - the Battle of the Five Armies once again brings you back to Middle Earth, and that alone made it worth watching for me. However, it can be quite a disappointment if you expect a grand finale in every aspect for the "Middle Earth" saga, because only the extent of the battle-scenes and the visuals life up to that, while other aspects - story, setting, mood, character development and -relations lag miles behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you've seen the first two parts, you shouldn't be too surprised about that. Prepare to be surprised nevertheless.
The frustration of the 144 minutes6/10
What a difference an Extended Edition makes. For the first part we got some jolly embellishment. For The Desolation of Smaug we got bags more depth and character. For The Battle of the Five Armies, it may - I hope - be transformative. Because right now this feels like An Unfinished Journey.

It's as if, after all the complaints about splitting a pamphlet of a novel into three parts, Peter Jackson is playing a joke on us: This is what you get when you ask for Middle-earth-lite. Characters we've come to love or loathe arc into nothing; others (e.g. Beorn and Radagast) are given literally seconds of screen time; and for the first time in this prequel trilogy, a whole chapter (The Return Journey) is pretty much elided entirely.

I'd like to be clear on my admiration for what Peter Jackson has done with The Hobbit so far. For all The Lord of the Rings' mythic grandeur and complex world-building, there's a warm geniality and brisk impetus to these lovingly crafted films. And those qualities are married to a thematic depth missing from its bedtime story source. Home and borders are themes that have run through this trilogy, from Bilbo's (Martin Freeman) heartfelt declaration of solidarity at the end of An Unexpected Journey, to Kili's (Aidan Turner) fevered speech to Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) as she heals his wounds in Desolation, when they realise reconciliation is possible. Heck, I even like the addition of Tauriel - though her unsatisfying conclusion is perhaps typical of a final chapter that too often fails to tie up its loose ends.

The movie kicks off from precisely where the second ended, with the dread dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) descending upon Laketown. The citizens flee but nothing can stop the cataclysm - until a certain someone finds an ingenious way to pierce the beast. Then there's nemesis #2: Sauron (also Cumberbatch). We get to see some familiar faces face-off with this faceless monstrosity.

The story then enters its most intriguing phase: a kind of psychodrama involving Thorin (Richard Armitage) and his sickening relationship with gold and power. It's the one time we really glimpse that signature Jackson oddness, in a wonderful hallucinatory sequence where Thorin imagines he's sinking in a lake of gold.

The narrative follows the book fairly closely. This was, after all, the stage of the story where Professor Tolkien finally foregrounded politics and ethics and the machinations of characters ahead of adventure. The film is at its most successful in the quieter moments, as Thranduil (a subtle Lee Pace) ponders the duty of the elves; as Bard (a brooding Luke Evans) comes to the gate of the mountain to plead for peace; and as Thorin struggles with his "dragon-sickness" (i.e. greed), while Bilbo wrestles with the dilemma of what to do with a certain stolen gemstone.

Thorin was presented at first as this trilogy's Aragorn. But over time we've learned of the dangerous pride that ruined his grandfather. Thorin's hubris and arrogance is in stark contrast to Bilbo's very relatable and achievable traits of decency and humility. The gulf between them is intriguing and wisely plundered for drama. Armitage and Bilbo provide the best performances of the film - mostly internal; mostly in the eyes - and their farewell is one of the more moving moments in a trilogy that has largely prioritised humour over pathos.

The battle itself is undoubtedly impressive - great roaring hordes punctuated with spectacular giants - but in a sense it compounds the problem of the relatively truncated runtime. What was already the shortest Middle-earth film is rendered artificially even shorter by the fact that there's 45 minutes of virtually wordless fighting. By now we should all be braced for Super Legolas and his physics-defying fighting style. That reaches new heights here; as he sprints up a crumbling bridge like he's on the wrong escalator, it's like some sort of visual satire on the weightlessness of CGI.

With its last bastion and swarming armies, the titular battle resembles The Return of the King's Pelennor finale - yet that movie took breath between its showdowns. Galadriel vs. Sauron; Legolas vs. Bolg; Thorin vs. Azog... it's like we're watching someone finish off a video game but we're powerless to stop them skipping the tension- or character-building cutscenes. Moreover, the dubious editing decisions create some strange and jolting juxtapositions and tonal lurches, and negate the sense of time passing or of great distances being crossed.

The result is a film that really earns its status of "theatrical cut", insofar as it resembles many a boisterous blockbuster. This is fairly damning criticism for a Middle-earth movie, usually so luxurious and layered in its sense of a unique world. There's plenty of meat here - but where are the bones that hold it all together? 11 months away, perhaps.
The Hobbit: Battle of the Dwarfs, Elves, Orcs, Humans, Trolls, Giant Worms, Pigs, Goats, Eagles, and Anything Else That Peter Jackson Thought Would Make Money1/10
I was as irritated as most people when I heard that Peter Jackson would split The Hobbit into three movies because it was obviously a decision based on nothing more than getting as much money as possible, but even I never imagined that he would stoop to making a movie like Battle of the Five Armies (a.k.a. Battle of the 25 Armies plus a couple of random giant mountain goats and a pig thrown in for good measure).

The CGI was as bad as something you would see in a B movie—even worse than the previous two Hobbit films. But even more noticeably, the script took a dive to rock bottom. Within the first half hour, such utterly laughable cliches as "You make me feel alive," were spoken in a cheesy love scene that seemed like something straight out of Saturday Night Live, except that the audience was apparently supposed to take it seriously.

Shortly before the battle started, there were a few much-needed moments of comic relief, and I thought the film might possibly turn around. But all my illusions were soon shattered during the ten-minute scene where Thorin walks on top of the ice that Azog is floating under with his eyes open, following the orc and apparently waiting for him to break through it, when—surprise!—he does, and (spoiler for those who have not yet watched the ten-minute scene that made this obvious) kills Thorin. Alas. It might have been sad if I hadn't been waiting around for ten minutes knowing that he would get killed.

Things were looking grim for the dwarfs when who should appear? Our heroes the eagles, of course, who have managed to bail out the protagonists in every single movie of the trilogy.

Although I couldn't stop laughing during the scene where three dwarfs find completely random giant mountain goats with no riders in the middle of the battle and proceed to ride them up a mountain, the worst part of the movie was easily the ending. As if the movie isn't long enough, the audience is not only forced to watch Bilbo go all the way BACK to the Shire, they have to re-watch footage from Fellowship of the Ring! I knew it was a bad sign that Peter Jackson actually made a movie shorter than three hours (although it felt like six)—apparently, he had so little material for this movie that he had to re-use material from his original trilogy.

When Tauriel discusses love with the abominably cliched line "Why does it hurt so much?" I think she described the feelings of most of the audience enduring the latest Hobbit movie.
A big disappointment.4/10
A couple of years ago, when I heard Peter Jackson would direct two more Middle-earth movies, I started crying out of excitement. Those two movies soon got changed into three and I was angry because I was convinced the story was too short for three three-hours-long movies. Despite the book being approximately 300 pages long, Peter Jackson & co. proved me wrong and managed to not include big parts of the books in these movies, even though there's more than 8,5 hours of total screen time. "Disappointed" is an understatement.

I don't think this movie was supposed to make me laugh at the serious scenes and sigh at the 'comic relief' scenes -basically everything Alfrid was in- but sadly it did. At least the 'funny' scenes in the Lord of the Rings trilogy were subtle and less in number; BOTFA was supposed to be "serious and dark" and those silly, ridiculous scenes pretty much ruined that.

I have nothing negative to say about the acting though. The amazing cast of this trilogy did the best they could with the awful script they were given, and I'm thankful for that. It's not their fault that their character development was rushed because the movie was full of pointless Legolas Vs. Gravity scenes, dull Tauriel scenes who fell in love with Kili after having a conversation with him once or twice - same goes for Kili who fell in love with her and even gave her the token his mother, Dis, gave him.

The worst part of this movie isn't even that it's full of badly done CGI or the big lack of proper character development. It's the fact that Tauriel, a badly written, impossible character made up by Peter Jackson & co., had more screen time than characters who were in the actual book written by J.R.R. Tolkien. Beorn basically got fifteen seconds, if not less, screen time in the last installment of this trilogy. Most of the dwarfs from the Company barely got a line, and a LOT of things are left unexplained.

SPOILERS AFTER THIS LINE

For instance, what happened with Thranduil and the white gems? Did he ever get them back?

What happened to the gold? As a fan of the books I already know the answer, but the movie didn't really care to explain this important part of the story. Come on, the entire battle was about the gold. At least take a minute to explain how it got divided.

Where did those goats suddenly come from?

Why were the dwarfs wearing helmets when they were still inside the mountain, but had no helmets on when they actually went to war?

What happened to the people of Lake-Town? Why didn't the movie explain that Bard became King of Dale? If I had not read the book, I'd get really annoyed after watching this movie and not knowing what had happened to them.

What was the point of those ridiculously large worms and why did no one else /ever/ mention them before? And why were they gone after ten seconds? Did they ever get killed?

Why mention Legolas' mother and never explain anything about her at all?

Besides all these unanswered questions, there are certain things which bothered me more than all of those questions combined. 1. The Durins (Thorin, Kili, Fili) didn't get a funeral. In my opinion it's ridiculous to cut something like that out because they were basically the main characters. Which brings me to my second point. 2. I think Peter Jackson forgot that this story is called The Hobbit because Bilbo is supposed to be the main character, not Thorin. 3. Kili basically sacrificed himself for Tauriel which is unforgivable. In the actual story, Fili and Kili died defending Thorin in battle. Now the poor boy is dead because he had a crush on a badly written elf which also completely degrades the importance of Legolas and Gimli's friendship.

Let's not forget about the scene wherein Legolas grabs a flying bat, or when Bard uses his son Bain to shoot an arrow, which should make him fall but somehow it doesn't, or when Dain and Thorin decide to hug in the middle of a battle, or when Azog somehow manages to float and dramatically opens his eyes.

I absolutely loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy. They are my favorite movies of all time and the reason I became a fan of Tolkien's works in the first place. It's sad that Peter Jackson desperately tried to link the Hobbit movies to the LOTR trilogy, because it's partly the reason why the Hobbit movies are so awful. If the unnecessary Dol Guldur scenes and the Tauriel storyline were skipped, every good part from the book which is now cut out would have easily fit in. I'm still giving this movie a 4 out of 10 though, because I absolutely love the cast and I think they did a brilliant job, especially Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman. Also, the very last scene was exactly like I imagined it would be, with Ian Holm's Bilbo and Gandalf knocking on the door. Loved that part. And "The Last Goodbye" by Billy Boyd was a beautiful way to end this movie and trilogy and made me tear up.

You might enjoy this movie if you really liked the first two -I didn't-, if you're into bad CGI or movies that look like video games or if you don't really care about Tolkien's Middle-earth and are content with a movie that doesn't do Tolkien and his characters justice at all. Otherwise you're probably someone like me and you'll leave the theater disappointed and grieving over the characters you love so much.