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MOVIES - The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - Review

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Note: Beware, spoilers ahead.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of watching the third installment in The Hobbit series, the final chapter of the epic Lord of the Rings saga that began all the way back in 2001. As a note, I thoroughly enjoyed the first two entries of the Hobbit series, including Desolation of Smaug which I know ruffled a lot of people's feathers but I thought it was an enjoyable adventure. The Battle of the Five Armies takes a different approach from the first two films as the action stays pretty much rooted in the same area rather than the endless trailing through forests and mountains etc. This actually works in the film's favour as we have a film with a tighter structure and shorter running time.

The running time has been mentioned a lot by critics and they have approached it favourably. I was only grateful of a shorter running time because when I went to see Desolation of Smaug, I kept thinking the film was going to finish as I desperately needed to use the toilet (emphasis on desperately) but I didn't want to miss anything so I had to wait until the end credits and my God, was I grateful when those credits rolled. Fortunately that didn't happen with The Battle of the Five Armies, I mean for one I didn't drink as much (sounds obvious but a large drink at the cinema is a necessity) and two there was less drawn out.

Firstly though, the film begins right off the bat from the ending of the second film. Smaug has flown from The Lonely Mountain and has spotted the very vulnerable Lake Town. I have to admit, this was one of the most exciting opening sequences of a film in a long time. The music building, the townspeople running and screaming, several of our heroes and heroines are among them - we just know shit will hit the fan straight away. It's what we all anticipated as soon as our heroes failed at the end of the second film and Bilbo's words "what have we done?" still echoing in our ears. It was fair to say that anticipation for this moment was fairly high. The sequence was really well done with Smaug DEMOLISHING the town with his fire breath. From that first wave of fire, we just knew that the situation was very, very dire. We have some comedy balanced out with the Master of Lake Town and Alfrid trying to escape with as much gold as they could carry (but obviously karma is a bitch). Instead of our main heroes taking a stand against Smaug, it was Bard who challenged the mighty dragon. Atop a bell tower, Bard takes aim with useless arrows and realises at just the right time where Smaug's weak spot is. He aims, fires, and bye bye Smaug.

Even though the huge climax at the end of the second film was resolved in ten to fifteen minutes in the third film, it was actually a truly great way of opening the film. Before seeing the film, I kind of expected Smaug to last a lot longer, maybe even half the film, but he was taken down with some difficulty by Bard. Smaug's problem was that he talked too much when he could have just swooped up and obliterated Bard before revealing his weak spot. Villains always talk too much before they die, giving the hero too much opportunity to save the day. I am glad Bard took Smaug down though I was a little surprised our other heroes didn't do it. But Smaug's death was glorious as he flew upward with a scream before perishing.

I wish I had the film with me to rewatch as I'm going from memory here. Afterwards, the people from Lake Town wash up on the nearby shore with four of our dwarves and Tauriel and Legolas. There was a sweet romantic moment between Kíli and Tauriel. The four dwarves reunite with Bilbo, Thorin and the other dwarves in Lonely Mountain where they realise that Thorin has lost his mind because of the gold. I wasn't exactly taken by this storyline in the film as Thorin turned against the other dwarves and became pretty unreasonable but they probably did this to make his eventual "return to good" all the more satisfying.

On the side, we still have Gandalf's story to deal with. He's saved by Galadriel who is just so badass! I loved her in this film, and she carried Gandalf with some hidden strength, I mean wow I was impressed. Elrond and Saruman show up and help with some epic fighting moves against the Nazgul wraiths. It was a shame Gandalf couldn't unleash his power at this moment but it worked better that the scene really goes to Galadriel who steals the show. She turned scary when Sauron appeared and she became this pasty ghostly being and banished Sauron far, far away. Now that's what I call girl power!

More of the story progresses when Thranduil's army arrives at Dale and he and Bard sort of clash before coming to a mutual agreement to try and reason with Thorin. But as expected, Thorin doesn't appreciate the peace that would come from giving them what they want so an anticipated war looms. Even more so when armies of orcs are on their way. I love it when the audience knows of impending doom when the characters don't. Legolas and Tauriel have quite the burden to warn them all.

I loved that Bilbo snuck out being the little sneak that he is, even without the Ring, to give Bard and Thranduil the Arkenstone. Gandalf, who arrives at Dale at this point, is very impressed with his little Hobbit, as am I. He definitely did the right thing as the Arkenstone would have just made Thorin worse and at least now they have leverage for peace. I expected Bilbo to never tell Thorin and the secret would have been found out some other way but when Bilbo confessed straight away, it was a pretty poignant moment for him. It showed his progression since the first film and even the dwarves appreciated it. All except Thorin who got really mad and almost killed him.

Now this is when the review gets tricky as all hell breaks loose with all these different armies beginning to fight. Without the movie on hand, I can't remember specifically what army attacked who at what point and in what order, but let's just agree that it's chaos. I remember that the dwarf army led by Dain Ironfoot II came first to attack the elves but I think the orcs arrived before they could go to war, so the charge shifted to attack the orcs. I don't know about you guys but I love when all-out war happens in films. So much excitement but fear that our favourite characters are going to perish.

The fight scenes were superb. There was so much happening at once but it wasn't hard to keep up with the action at all. It was very easy to follow while watching. I can remember chunks though not in chronological order so I don't want to say specifics and get them wrong. I love the fights within Dale, especially when Bard rides that wagon to protect his children. I was also laughing out loud (along with the rest of the cinema) when Alfrid dressed as the beggar woman with gold tucked into his bosom. He was very convincing as an old lady. He was such a coward but he provided some light entertainment comic relief amongst all the death and destruction.

Fortunately Thorin comes to his senses and the dwarves inside the Lonely Mountain join the fight. When they realise that Azog is in Ravenhill he takes Kíli, Fili and Dwalin. It's a trap though and the first major death with Fili happens. It was such a touching moment to see as Azog kills him right in front of them and then drops him from a great height to Kíli's feet. As soon as this happened, I kind of knew Kíli would die. I've read the book and he does anyway, but since the film series had diverged so greatly, I thought maybe there was a chance for him and Tauriel to live happily ever after.

Tauriel finally comes into the battle with Legolas and sees Kíli in trouble. She goes to help, only to get herself into a fight with Bolg. This was it. I knew this was it. I had no idea what was going to happen to Tauriel as she doesn't appear in the Lord of the Rings films so whether she makes it or not, it was hard to say at this point. I actually panicked during this scene. She was really getting her ass handed to her. Then Kíli joined the fight (by jumping onto Bolg and putting his sword to his throat when he really could have ended the fight straight away by putting the sword right in Bolg's head when he descended on top of him). Kíli doesn't last very long and we have that heart-breaking moment when Kíli dies.

Legolas has a great fight sequence with Bolg and honestly, the logistics are just not possible but since this is a fantasy, I'll let it slide, but man it was a great fight. This meant that Tauriel would live to see another day, but I think I would have preferred her to have died with Kíli. I mean, now we don't know what happens to her next and at least if she had a death with Kíli, it would have been the end of a tragic love story amongst an epic battle. But never mind, I am glad she was still breathing and to see Kate get off the island.

Then we have Thorin's battle with Azog. Again, it was a great fight sequence and it wasn't the most memorable for me until it seemed like Thorin won by drowning Azog. Instead, we get this creepy moment when Azog floats under the ice underneath Thorin and then stabs him through the foot. I gasped haha. The fight continues leading to a pretty hopeless situation where Thorin would only be able to kill him by getting mortally wounded in return. I wasn't sure whether I was expecting Thorin to die in the film series or not but it was very touching when Bilbo found him. So sad to have that, especially regarding the tree that Bilbo wanted to plant outside his house.

Bilbo bids farewell to his dwarf friends and I was both laughing and crying. He tells them that they are welcome any time and they don't need to bother knocking. That was so touching. Damn, I hate when I feel things for fictional characters. It was so rude of the other Hobbits to auction off Bilbo's stuff, even if it had been 13 months since Bilbo was last there. I loved the ending, having that flashforward to Bilbo's 111th Birthday which, as we all know, was a very important birthday for Bilbo and Frodo.

I can't believe a year passed for the journey as I can't believe only 2 years ago the first film came out. Seriously, time has flown for the film's releases and I just can't believe that's another film series I love over. Now I am seriously needing to rewatch the original Lord of the Rings trilogy extended along with An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug extended when the third film's Blu-ray comes out. I just love this world and I want more.

As a review of the Hobbit film series, I must say that it was probably more accessible to watch than Lord of the Rings. I really can't say if I prefer one film series over the other until I've had a major rewatch but let me know in the comments if you guys have preferred one over the other. Also, let me know how you guys enjoyed this film, I would love to hear your thoughts about it.

About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
Award-winning author of 'Abyssal Sanctuary: Remnants of the Damned'. Gavin joined SpoilerTV on August 9, 2014 and will be reviewing 2 Broke Girls, Mistresses, Orange is the New Black, Pretty Little Liars and Salem in the 2014-15 season. Gavin's favourite shows include Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Scandal and much more. You can contact him at gavin@spoilertv.com.
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