The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies review – The end of an era

Posted on 13 December 2014
By George Heron
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So here we are then. The end of an era. The last Peter Jackson-made Middle-earth film. We have had, including extended editions, 1049 minutes in Middle-earth thus far, around 17 and a half hours. Is the remaining 144 minutes of Battle of the Five Armies a satisfying epilogue?

It felt weird to have a Middle-earth film under three hours. Surely the extended edition will exceed that duration. The second film ended with Smaug being driven from Erebor and we are now left with the aftermath. Of Dwarves, Elves and Men, who has the right to all the gold within?

The title is not the slightest bit misleading. Don’t be deterred by word that the film only consists of a 45-minute battle. The film is one big battle. It is a battle against the temptress of gold and wealth, how it can corrupt the most noble souls. It is a battle for those in Laketown, now refugees, who have lost their homes and seek compensation. A conflict of loyalties, those who were once allies have fallen into disarray.

The battle in the book is only a couple of pages long, so Jackson and his team of writers had to create a lot themselves to have the scale required for a Middle-earth movie. They’ve included a lot of fan service so it all ties in smoothly with the Rings trilogy. Little things like Galadriel showing her evil side again and the mention of certain characters from Rings shows the attention to detail.

In terms of the action itself, I’m sorry to say that it is not as epic as either of the individual big battles the Rings trilogy, Helm’s Deep and Minas Tirith. There’s plenty of it but it doesn’t sweep you in a wave of awesomeness like what has gone before. Even the first two Hobbit films have moments like that. The barrels scene blew me away. Nothing provided that thrill. Even Legolas developing Matrix-style bullet time and stepping on rocks as they are falling failed to impress. Bayonetta did it much better. It’s amazing how the son of Bard is so adept at killing Orcs. For a child.

We could have done with a bit more humour. A CG’d Billy Connolly is all well and good but the Laketown administrator, Alfrid, is hit and miss as the main attempt at comic relief. The film could have done with more banter between dwarves during the battles. Maybe he didn’t want to undermine the tragic events that occur. Nothing’s held back in that respect.

It was never going to suck being allowed a chance to see Middle-earth one last time and I’d hate to put anyone off from doing so. I’ll be watching it again as per my birthday ritual.