The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Review

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The original title of The Battle of the Five Armies, There and Back Again, feels more appropriate than Battle does. It’s almost 11 years since we last felt this bittersweet feeling of finality with Return of the King ending the beloved Lord of the Rings storyline. Now our journey there is back again as we say goodbye to Middle-earth for the last time. But much like the Star Wars prequels, The Hobbit has been a mixed bag. While Desolation of Smaug was enjoyable for the most part, An Unexpected Journey was a total letdown. So is Jackson’s final outing in Middle-earth a solid entry into the Lord of the Rings franchise or does Battle cap off what has been a subpar trilogy?

Thankfully, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is not only the most entertaining film in the trilogy; it’s also one of the best.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies continues precisely where The Desolation of Smaug left off with a vengeful and homeless Smaug about to attack the citizens of Lake-town. But there is an even greater danger as Sauron has sent his legion of Orcs to attack the Lonely Mountain. As the Orcs disrupt the escalating conflict at the Lonely Mountain, the Dwarves, Elves and Men must decide whether to put their differences aside and unite or be destroyed.

Peter Jackson gained a lot of criticism for splitting The Hobbit into three films instead of two. Although the split wasn’t necessary, it seemed to help Five Armies the most. Battle of the Five Armies has a far more driven narrative than the previous Hobbit films. There is little fat here and each and every subplot pieces together into one coherent film. Not to mention, the tight pacing and epic battle set pieces will keep you captivated throughout the film.

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Speaking of epic battle set pieces, no one does it better than Peter Jackson. The battle set pieces have a spectacular and playful style to them. Not to mention, the battle’s settings are absolutely breathtaking to look at.

Yet amongst all the battles and Orc killing, Jackson still tries to find room for a little human emotion. While it’s not as emotional as The Return of the King, Five Armies still has some endearing moments — a majority of it coming from the brilliant Martin Freeman. However, there are personal moments where it was meant to be endearing but just comes out flat. This is mostly due to the some of the poorly defined characters that we SHOULD care about, but ultimately don’t.

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This isn’t because of the actors though as each actor did a fantastic job in the film. Richard Armitage delivered an intense and commanding performance as Thorin Oakenshield, and is arguably the true star of the film. Armitage was also very skillful at portraying the subtle and the heightened aspects of Thorin’s internal struggles. But with Thorin being the star of the film, this also means that Bilbo Baggins plays more of a secondary role (in a film that’s named after him). This is unfortunate since Freeman’s sympathetic and caring Bilbo Baggins delivers much of the touching moments in the film.

Overall, Five Armies is a richly satisfying end to the Hobbit trilogy. It is filled with terrifically staged and constructed action sequences, even if its impact is more about Lord of the Rings nostalgia than emotional engagement. We have now, once again, made it there and back again. It’s time to say goodbye to Middle-earth and despite some serious bumps along the way, it is a journey that I’m still glad I took again.

Rating: 4/5 atoms
NR 4 Atoms - B

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1475 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.