Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

We are now approaching the end of the road.  And like all roads, it will either lead us to a dead end or a wonderfully vibrant end full of life.  An end that is known better to the rest of us as a “happy ending”.

With Smaug ravaging an entire town, jealously defending his mountain containing his golden treasure, Bilbo Baggins watched the desolation from atop the Lonely Mountain.  Watching Smaug burn the poor and defenseless town to a crisp.  Who among the citizens could best such a terrible beast? One brave man stepped forward while the other dwarves were being led out on boat by a she-elf.  At this point, Bilbo has gone very far in his journey.  There was no way that he could turn back, until he finished his errand.  There was a battle to fight. And after this battle, his journey would end.  Clad with his treasure and memories that would last a lifetime, he would then make his journey home.  To the end.  To his cozy Hobbit hole where this story began.

Getting back to the battle, a brave man slayed Smaug.  He is Bard, the one that brought the sly Smaug to his glorious end.  With Smaug dead, there was no one to defend the treasure back at the mountain.  At Erebor.  The ancient Dwarven Land of old.  With the news traveling fast, everyone wanted a piece of that gold.  The citizens of Laketown wanted it to rebuild their settlement.  Thorin (Richard Armitage), going back on his promise, is determined to defend the gold that is rightfully his.  The elves assemble to recover a lost relic located in the Lonely Mountain of Erebor.  The orcs hear about Smaug’s demise and like all the other parties want the gold to rebuild their kingdom.

With everyone after this gold, the armies begin to assemble, and a great battle is fought for it. This is the premise of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the long awaited third part in the trilogy released by Warner Bros. Pictures and MGM Studios.

As we already know, Tolkien is the master behind this masterpiece, but Peter Jackson is the director that is bringing his vision to life.   But how does he deal with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies?  Is the movie a victorious masterpiece or a slaughtered corpse doomed to rot and decay without proper burial?  Let’s find out.

The movie begins with Laketown being under siege, with Smaug burning every building in sight. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and the dwarves get a front row seat to seeing all this happen.  There is widespread panic, while Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and the other dwarves escape in a boat.

After that, Bard (Luke Evans) breaks out of his prison cell and kills Smaug with a black arrow retrieved from his son Bain (John Bell).  With that, the Laketown survivors appoint Bard as their new leader.  As Bard’s first action, he leads the people of Laketown to the ruins of Dale for refuge.

After this, the dwarves all reunite at the Lonely Mountain.  The ones that escaped Laketown join with the ones that were with Bilbo.  During the reunion, Tauriel decides to investigate Mount Gundabad with Legolas (Orlando Bloom).

With Smaug fallen, the Battle of the Mountain begins.  The victor gets all the gold that is in the mountain.  And with Thorin back at Erebor, he is not about to give up the gold so easily.  Inflicted by Smaug’s “dragon sickness”, Thorin goes mad and begins a mad pursuit for the Arkenstone.  Little does he know that Bilbo has it.  Will Bilbo risk his life and confess to Thorin the truth?  Will the “dragon sickness” overtake Thorin, son of Thrain?  Which army will win the mountain and the gold inside it?  Will it be the Orcs?  And what about Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) and Radagast (Sylvester McCoy)?  Do they ever escape Dol Goldur?  Watch the movie and find out.

The length of the movie was a little shorter than the last one, and I thought that the plot progressed pretty smoothly.  With almost two and a half hours to work with, that was plenty of time to have the Battle of the Mountain and Bilbo’s return to the Shire.  The music was pretty good, although there wasn’t really anything noteworthy like the first movie (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).  The ending was good, and it ties really well to The Lord of the Rings.

Getting to the characters, they were all portrayed faithfully as they were in the book.  There’s Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves from the last movie.  Thorin was the star of this one and is what made the movie for me.  Tauriel makes a return, which I will discuss a little bit later.  Legolas was once again oddly present.  Dain (Billy Connolly)  makes an odd new appearance in the movie. Odd inclusions aside, I thought that all the other characters were portrayed well.

The movie had a great number of nitpicks.  So many that I could write a book on them.  The first one is the one that I hated the most.  It was the inclusion of Tauriel in the movie.  Nowhere in The Hobbit OR Lord of the Rings universe is there a She-Elf named Tauriel!  Alongside Tauriel was Legolas, who had no place in the movie at all.  Furthermore, he made the plot useless.  He was not even in The Hobbit so he shouldn’t be in the movie.  To expand the plot from the last movie, Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) helps Gandalf escape and gets possessed by Sauron.  Being tempted by him, she resists and casts him away to Mordor.  This does not happen in the book at all!  Kili never confesses his love to Tauriel with a special stone because there is no Tauriel!  Azog existing is a contradiction in itself.  He was in the Battle of Azannulbizar, which was 150 years before the events of The Hobbit! He was killed by Dain in that battle.  And for some reason, they decided to include him in the movie too!  Azog is already dead so he has no place in The Hobbit at all!   Then they has the audacity to make this big final battle scene with Azog!  Thorin kills Azog but is mortally wounded.  He does die in the book but not from Azog!  I could go on and on about this, but to be honest, this is all that I can stand.  These changes were made to make the movie more appealing to casual audiences, and I thought that it was unnecessary.  Why did they have that final battle with Azog?  This was an addition that I hated the most.  Even more than Gandalf going to Dol Goldur from the last movie.  Even more than Boromir taking Frodo and Sam to Osgiliath in the Two Towers.  This subplot was totally made up and only served to fill in the two and a half hours of time that Jackson had to work with.  If any of these nitpicks were not there and the adaptation was closer to the book,  the movie would’ve been way better.

How did The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies do? Looking at the box office results,  it’s doing okay.  The expectation was for it to gross $70 million during the opening weekend and it did just that.  In one weekend, it grossed $56.2 million during its opening weekend.  Its five-day opening was $90.6 million, placing it behind The Desolation of Smaug’s $100.2 million five-day opening.  Even with a modest opening, it is still the sixth highest grossing movie of the Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit series.  Fellowship of the Ring grossed $47.2 million on its opening weekend.  The Two Towers grossed $62 million and Return of the King grossed $72.6 million.  Last year, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug grossed $73.6 million during its opening weekend. Two years ago,  The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey grossed  $84.6 million during its opening weekend.  The current domestic gross of this year’s movie is $90.6 million.  In adding the foreign gross of $265 million,  the worldwide gross stands at $355.6 million.  That’s $100 million more than the $258.3 million that The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug grossed last year at this time.  With a production budget of $250 million, it easily made it back.  With all the nitpicks aside (and there were many this time), I really enjoyed the movie. I loved the visuals and I loved the battle scenes near Erebor and Bilbo’s trip home.  Jackson has done it again.  Although it is a masterpiece, he needs to stay true to the book more.  The unnecessary additions of out-of-place characters made the plot a little confusing for me.  With the differences aside,  the success continues.  The formula was implemented again.  The finale could have been better had he stayed true to the book.  As with every story that arrives at the end of the road, this story accomplished this, and has tied the story to The Lord of the Rings smoothly.  For this prologue to be better, I advise that Jackson abstains from making tweaks that are too out of place (like he did last time), as this alienates the fans of Tolkien’s masterpiece prologue.  Nobody should ruin a masterpiece.  Jackson really should’ve avoided doing this to part three of this story.  I give The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies a 4 out of 5.