The day that Middle-Earth fans have been waiting for (at least UK and European fans; US fans have to wait another five days) has finally arrived, as we enter the culminating chapter of The Hobbit trilogy, and what very well may be the final chapter in the Middle-Earth saga. Having been a year since Smaug brought his fury to the small fishing area of Laketown, fans have naturally been eager to witness this finale. But has the wait been worth it, and will fans of both the book, and prior films be satisfied by the final product?
As the dragon Smaug rains fire down upon them, the people of Laketown find themselves in a state of panic, with many choosing to flee their burning homes. There is however one person that attempts to save his hometown, with Bard the Bowman being the only man brave enough to face off against the deadly dragon. Meanwhile, Bilbo and the company of Dwarves find themselves at their final destination, taking up residence in the Misty Mountain. But with four armies vying for the treasure within, it isn’t long before these Dwarves have to prepare for war.
Having directed every entry in the Middle-Earth saga, there are certain things that fans have came to expect from Peter Jackson. Amongst these are wonderful scenery, extraordinary CGI, exciting action, and a gripping narrative. This is as ever president throughout The Battle of the Five Armies, as though the narrative could have given more from a storytelling point of view, the film more than excelled in the remaining departments. The most noticeable amongst these features has to be the battle itself, with the action fittingly lasting the majority of the 144 minutes run time. Featuring Orcs, Dwarves, Elves, Men and Eagles, The Battle of the Five Armies makes even the grandiose battle in The Return of the King look ordinary, with the explosive action mesmerizing at every turn.
Much like The Desolation of Smaug, the majority of the cast members return, with comedian Billy Connolly also joining the cast as Thorin’s cousin Dáin. Leading the stellar cast is Martin Freeman, who following two magnificent films gives his best performance as Bilbo Baggins. Capturing the innocents of the character, Freeman gives a depth that really helps bridge the different characters together, showing a common goal. Richard Armitage also continues to give a strong performance as Thorin, with the character development being shown in a very emotionally way by the actor. The remaining cast members all do a fabulous job, with Ian McKellen (Gandalf) as ever bringing some experience to the renowned cast members. The voicework of Benedict Cumberbatch also continues to shine, with his sinister tone giving tremendous depth to the magnificent dragon Smaug, whilst also giving a regal like tone. Additionally Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, and Evangeline Lilly also do a sensational job as Legolas, Bard the Bowman and Tauriel respectively.
Though the action packed events of this film is enough to keep views occupied, I couldn’t help but feel that the story as a whole lacked depth. The Desolation of Smaug also fell firmly into the same trap, taking the events of the book, and spinning them out further than necessary. Having always felt that three films was overreaching, I’m not overly surprised to have these feelings. Though despite this, it doesn’t take away from the awe inspiring action throughout. Over it’s three film run, The Hobbit has taken the music from The Lord of the Rings, and tweaked it to fit the change in tone. This remains true throughout The Battle of the Five Armies, with Howard Shore‘s score giving tremendous atmosphere to the epic events within this film.
Ultimately The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies does an amazing job of bridging the gap between The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. Though it also goes to emphasise my prior comment regarding the reasoning behind adapting the book into three films. Nevertheless, this is a film that any movie goer will enjoy, and especially if you’re a fan of the Middle-Earth saga. Highly recomended.