We’ve reached the end of a long and wonderful journey that began in 2001 with Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and after the original trilogy ended with the Oscar winning Return of the King in 2003. Now we’ve come full circle with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Picking up from exactly where Desolation of Smaug had ended, this third and final chapter of The Hobbit series of films is a fitting end and a tribute to author J.R.R. Tolkien’s middle earth vision as seen through director Peter Jackson’s eyes. Warning spoilers ahead…
After a breathtaking and destructive opening scene of the dragon, Smaug taking his vengeance against Lake-town and his ultimate defeat by the hand of Bard, the film hits a bit of lull as it paced itself in setting up the final climactic battle. The next hour or so sees dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield succumb to greed and paranoia while hoarding the riches of the Lonely Mountain. Thorin trusts no one, which includes Bilbo and orders his followers to fortify their home against all who threaten to take what he feels belongs to him as King.
While Thorin loses his grip on reality, outside the walls of the Lonely Mountain, an army of elves, men and dwarves ready themselves against an approaching Orc threat. This is where the film takes off with non-stop action highlighted with the epic showdown between Thorin and orc Azog.
If you’ve read the book, its ending doesn’t come to much of a surprise. However, the well-choreographed hand-to-hand fight between the two mortal enemies harkens back to the very best of the original trilogy. It’s a defining moment for this series of films and beautifully bridges the gap for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
There are several other scenes that give a nod to what we’ve already seen and know to come such as Saruman telling Gandalf and Elrond that he’ll handle Sauron. We all know how that’ll turn out. Then there’s King Thranduil suggesting to Legolas to watch over a young Ranger who goes by the name of Strider. Of course we will know him by his rightful name of Aragon, the future king. Then there’s the final scene that brings it all full circle with an older Bilbo (as seen in the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring), welcoming a visiting Gandalf.
In the end, there was a bittersweet feeling in seeing this timeless classic finally come to end. While I don’t think The Hobbit trilogy measures up to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it still remains a worthy tribute to Tolkein and the literary world that has stood the test of time.
Battle of the Five Armies - ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace and Luke Evans. Directed by Peter Jackson.