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An Inevitable Ending – “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”

Picture Credit: warnerbros.co.uk

Picture Credit: Warner Bros

The Lord of the Rings isn’t the first fantasy epic book to grace the big screen, but it is certainly one of the most expansive. Many of the characters have stories upon stories written about their exploits prior to the War of the Ring, the focus of the first trilogy. When that trilogy ended in 2003 with The Return of the King, fans everywhere hoped to see more of Middle Earth’s incredible story. But where would the next story come from?

The answer arrived in 2012 with the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Fans who loved the original trilogy flocked to theaters to learn the story of Bilbo Baggins, the elder Hobbit whose stories eventually influenced his nephew Frodo, one of the protagonists of the first trilogy. Over the last two years, fans came to the theaters excited to see the story play out. The final chapter of this trilogy arrived in theaters on December 17th, 2014 with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The film stars an ensemble cast led by Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Armitage, Ian McKellen, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Evangeline Lilly and Orlando Bloom. The film also features Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee and Hugo Weaving.

 Spoilers Ahead!

This film picks up where the previous film left off. Smaug lays siege to Lake Town because of Bilbo and the Dwarves driving him from Erebor. Smaug arrives and sets fire to the town with ease. Bard, captured and jailed in the last film, frees himself with aid of his jailer, the Master of Lake Town who is escaping with the town’s wealth. Bard’s children are in the care of the dwarves and Tauriel, who are also trying to escape before Smaug kills everyone.

Bard, with the help of his son Bain, kills Smaug with an arrow, but Lake Town is in ashes and winter is coming. The people choose to follow a reluctant Bard, who has to balance the safety of the people with the safety of his children. Bard clearly doesn’t want to lead but he’s the son of a king and doesn’t have much choice. His journey in these films is similar to that of Aragorn but I think Aragorn was the more developed character. Luke Evans still did well with his material.

Meanwhile, the dwarves and Bilbo celebrate Smaug’s death but Thorin Oakenshield is more concerned with finding the Arkenstone,  stolen from Smaug by Bilbo at the end of the last film. Thorin becomes paranoid and suspicious due to “dragon sickness” as time goes on and the stone isn’t found. Bilbo almost gives Thorin the stone to calm him, but when one of the other dwarves says that it would be better if the Arkenstone was never found, Bilbo keeps it to himself. Thorin’s madness becomes such that when Bard and the Elves, led by Thranduil, arrive to collect their shares of the reward Thorin promised for aid, Thorin rejects their claims and tells them to leave. Thranduil and Bard decide that war is the only way to get what they want and make plans to siege Erebor.

Gandalf the Grey and Radagast the Brown are trapped by the minions of The Necromancer (aka Sauron) but are saved by Galadriel, Elrond and Saruman the White. Galadriel defeats on The Necromancer and is weakened by the battle. Saurman volunteers to handle Sauron, foreshadowing his later corruption. Gandalf learns that the orcs are marching on Erebor, due to its strategic location as the gateway to Angmar, and races to inform Thorin and his people.

Legolas and Tauriel learn of a second orc army at Gundabad, where Legolas’s mother died. When they realize that this second army also plans to march on Erebor and destroy their allies, they head back to the fight to warn everyone.

Back at Erebor, Thorin refuses to budge and none of the other dwarves will stand up to him despite their disagreement with his actions. Bilbo takes matters into his own hands and gives Bard and Thranduil the Arkenstone. Even with his people outnumbered, Thorin refuses to budge when the dwarves get reinforcements in the form of Dain, Thorin’s cousin. Everyone is ready to fight but the battle starts when the orcs, led by Azog the Defiler, arrive ready to wipe everyone out. This forces the armies of Elves, Men and Dwarves to band together for survival.

There was a lot to like about this movie. The sets and special effects were amazing. Every location used in the movie made Middle Earth come alive. The movie also did well with juggling the various plot threads and foreshadowing the events that play out in The Lord of Rings. Gandalf’s journey was separate from that of Tauriel and Legolas, which was separate again from Bilbo and the dwarves, but they all came together smoothly by the end. The characterization was another highpoint. Bilbo’s journey from timid Hobbit to seasoned adventurer was fun to watch. Thorin almost completely erased all of the good he’d done in two films when he refused to keep his word, but he redeemed himself by the end and recognized what it truly means to be a king. Bard also had a good run, though I wish they’d shown him becoming a king.

My only complaint about the film is the same as my complaints about every other film in both trilogies. I know that Legolas is an Elf and that Elves are awesome. But giving Elrond a ten minute scene, giving Tauriel a few cool moments (where she’s ultimately unsuccessful) and giving Thranduil several good scenes that does not make it okay to shove Legolas’s gravity–defying nature down our throats in every single movie. The stunts are cute the first few times, but when everyone else in the film is getting beaten senseless, yet Legolas can kill people with a thrown sword, it becomes hard to root for him. At one point, I was rooting for ANY orc to land a good hit on him. No such luck.

I’m a little sad that the story is over now, as I’d gotten used to a new movie each December. I’m also glad that they ended the story rather than taking the new route of splitting the third chapter of a movie into two parts just to rake in the extra cash.

The Good: Great scenes and effects, awesome characterization and a tight story.

The Bad: Legolas generally ignoring physics and gravity, even though his moves were cool.

The Verdict: Go see this movie now. See it twice! Are you still reading this? GO!

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  1. Win a Digital HD Copy of “The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies” | The Hudsucker - March 24, 2015

    […] Read the rest of our writer, DeShawn Blankenship’s review here. […]

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