Movie Review

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The Defining Chapter
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Movie Poster

US Release Date: 12-17-2014

Directed by: Peter Jackson


  • Ian McKellen
  • Gandalf
  • Martin Freeman
  • Bilbo Baggins
  • Richard Armitage
  • Thorin
  • Ken Stott
  • Balin
  • Graham McTavish
  • Dwalin
  • William Kircher
  • Bifur
  • James Nesbitt
  • Bofur
  • Stephen Hunter
  • Bombur
  • Dean O'Gorman
  • Fili
  • Aidan Turner
  • Kili
  • John Callen
  • Oin
  • Peter Hambleton
  • Gloin
  • Jed Brophy
  • Nori
  • Mark Hadlow
  • Dori
  • Adam Brown
  • Ori
  • Orlando Bloom
  • Legolas
  • Evangeline Lilly
  • Tauriel
  • Lee Pace
  • Thranduil
  • Cate Blanchett
  • Galadriel
  • Hugo Weaving
  • Elrond
  • Christopher Lee
  • Saruman
  • Ian Holm
  • Old Bilbo
  • Mikael Persbrandt
  • Beorn
  • Sylvester McCoy
  • Radagast
  • Luke Evans
  • Bard
  • Stephen Fry
  • Master of Laketown
  • Ryan Gage
  • Alfrid
  • John Bell
  • Bain
  • Peggy Nesbitt
  • Sigrid
  • Mary Nesbitt
  • Tilda
  • Manu Bennett
  • Azog
  • John Tui
  • Bolg
  • Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Smaug/Necromancer (voice)
  • Billy Connolly
  • Dain
  • Kelly Kilgour
  • Soury
  • Mark Mitchinson
  • Braga
  • Sarah Peirse
  • Hilda Bianca
  • Nick Blake
  • Percy
  • Simon London
  • Feren
  • Conan Stevens
  • Keeper of the Dungeons
  • Allan Smith
  • Ragash
  • Miranda Harcourt
  • Olga
  • Thomasin McKenzie
  • Astrid
  • Erin Banks
  • Lobelia Sackville Baggins
  • Brian Hotter
  • Otho Sackville Baggins
  • Timothy Bartlett
  • Master Worrywort
Average Stars:
Reviewed on: December 21st, 2014
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

By now, the strengths and the weaknesses of this series are well established. The acting, the action, and the special effects are very well done, but the story has been stretched and bloated in an attempt to turn it into an epic on par with The Lord of the Rings. This final installment is no exception. Despite coming in at a brisk 2 hours and 24 minutes (the shortest of any of Peter Jackson's Middle Earth films), it still features plenty of filler. Most of it in the form of the titular battle that seems to go on and on and on.

In case you've forgotten, and I know I had, the second film ended with Thorin, Bilbo and assorted dwarves, wandering the treasure trove under the mountain while Smaug the dragon was flying down to attack Laketown, and while Gandalf was being held as a prisoner of the Necromancer. These leftover cliffhangers are quickly resolved in a couple of the film's most exciting scenes. Gandalf's escape, with the help of some familiar faces, presages the events in the Lord of the Rings, and is particularly well done despite being completely superfluous to the main story. Smaug's fate is so rapidly sealed that it almost feels silly that they didn't wrap up his part of the story in the second film. In any case, once these preliminary events are out of the way, the film focuses on the gathering forces of men, elves, dwarves and orcs around the mountain all eager to collect their share of Smaug's treasure, thus leading to the aforementioned battle.

The battle scenes are well done, but given they take up over an hour of the film there's more than enough of them to go around. And although they're technically well done, only a couple of moments in the battle carry any emotional weight. For the most part you're just watching computer animation of orc armies battling equally animated elves and dwarves. It's only when the battles breakout into individual fights that they become truly interesting, but even those fights go on too long. There's a terrific buildup to the big showdown between Thorin and the leader of the orcs and then the fight itself goes on and on and on. And the same is true of Legolos's battle with another orc. Even the emotion generated by these fights though is less than the swelling music would have you believe was intended.

The cast acquits itself well. Ian McKellan has made the part of Gandalf his own and is now inseparable from the character. Richard Armitage does excellent work as the gold crazed Thorin. Martin Freeman makes a fine Bilbo, but as with the first two films, he is no longer the star of this story, merely one of a cast of dozens. Although there have been fan grumblings about the addition of Evangeline Lilly as the elf Tauriel and her love affair with Kili the dwarf, their moments together are some of the few that generate real emotions. I certainly enjoyed their scenes together more than I did the supposed comic relief provided by Ryan Gage as Alfrid.

Part of the problem with this prequel series compared to the original Lord of the Rings films is that the series lacks a clear goal. In the first three films, the plot was simple. Destroy the ring. All of the films were leading up to that one moment. Here though, the story meanders and flounders. First it's about getting to the mountain, then defeating the dragon, then fighting over the gold. On top of those things, Jackson has thrown in all sorts of extraneous elements related to the coming war with Sauron, which complicates things even further. Maybe he should have turned it into a big budget TV series for HBO, then he would have had years to include as much background as he wanted.

All three of the Hobbit films are enjoyable despite their flaws. However, the decision to expand the story and give it an epic scope has forever tainted them. Somewhere within these three movies there might be a masterpiece retelling of the novel, but you'd need to edit out close to 4 hours worth of material to get to it.

Reviewed on: December 27th, 2014
Dean O'Gorman and Aidan Turner as Fili and Kili

Dean O'Gorman and Aidan Turner as Fili and Kili

Just as Topher Grace re-edited the three Star Wars prequels down to an hour and a half single film, so could someone take these three obese films and trim them down to a single enjoyable movie. Grace’s version was only shown for invited guests in his home as George Lucas would have sued his ass completely off had he made it a public showing. Thus, the only way we will ever see an edited version of The Hobbit would be if Peter Jackson decided to do so.

Scott mentioned that Jackson threw in all sorts of extraneous plot elements. Some are actually good while others are not. When Gandalf is rescued, in the beginning of the film, it features Galadriel, Saruman, Elrond, Sauron and nine wraiths. This all serves to remind us of just how awesome The Lord of the Rings trilogy is but it does nothing to improve this story line. In fact, it kind of contradicts The Fellowship of the Ring. In that film Gandalf discovers Bilbo has a ring and then races to some location to study some ancient texts to find out about it. In this film the ring of power and Bilbo’s magic ring are openly discussed by him without the all-knowing wizard realizing they are one and the same.

The inclusion of Legolas was also a mistake. Not only does Orlando Bloom’s face look fake in some scenes, many of his action moments are so over the top as to greatly reduce any tension they were intended to have. Clearly Bloom had aged, even though Legolas is practically immortal. He either had makeup on or his face was CGI altered. Either way, they should have given as many of his action scenes as they could to Kili and Fili, who each get a short stick in the action department, especially Fili whose one action scene takes place off screen.

Speaking of the dwarf brothers, they were my favorite of the group. I like Dean O’Gorman, who plays Fili, because he was on my favorite New Zealand fantasy television show, The Almighty Johnsons. Aidan Turner, who plays Kili, was on one of my favorite British fantasy shows, Being Human. Anyway, as brothers they instantly have more personality than any of the other dwarves, outside of Thorin. Although it was made up for the movies, I enjoyed Kili’s relationship with the elf, Tauriel. As Scott noted, their interspecies chaste love affair generates more emotional reaction than almost anything else on screen.

I keep thinking I am forgetting something. What was it? Hmmmm. Oh yes, Bilbo. He has a few decent moments with Thorin but otherwise he truly has very little to do here. He uses the invisibility ring a couple of times to remind us he still has it. I guess Peter Jackson forgot about Bilbo as well. In fact, this entire film could have taken place pretty much without him, which it almost does.

I am sure I am just one in a long line of critics who have written that Jackson needs to realize that less is sometimes more. CGI is just decoration. We need to care about the characters on screen and have an emotional reaction to them. Sure, I like Gandalf, Bilbo and Kili but they each have very little screen time. The dwarves, elves, humans and orcs are all just a bunch of greedy bastards out to get their hands on a treasure trove of gold so big that if it all found its way into circulation it would bring down its own value to almost nothing. Now there is some symbolism Jackson should take note of.

Reviewed on: March 25th, 2015
The only two actors to appear in all six Peter Jackson Middle-earth movies, Cate Blanchett and Ian McKellen in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

The only two actors to appear in all six Peter Jackson Middle-earth movies, Cate Blanchett and Ian McKellen in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

At this point there is little to add about this disappointing trilogy, but let me start by saying how relieved I am that this is the final film in the Hobbit series. Count me among those fans of the book that never got over the decision to turn this delightful children's story into three bloated, CGI riddled, movies. It was doomed from the start.

What should have been a straightforward, much more lighthearted, single movie about one hobbit's adventures in the dangerous world of Middle-earth outside of the Shire, is instead presented as a sprawling epic saga on par with the LOTR trilogy. As Scott wrote, Jackson acts like he's directing an HBO series instead of telling a whimsical adventure story of purity and simplicity. He's like a spastic geek trying to include every possible detail – and adding plenty of his own that were never included on the written page.

Peter Jackson doesn't know when to quit. He even steals an idea from the Dune books. I don't remember any giant worms in The Hobbit but sure enough they show up here in time for the climactic never-ending battle. Talk about filler. What took only a few pages to describe in the book takes up more than 45 minutes of screen time here.

A great opportunity was squandered in the name of profit. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that I never plan on watching any of these three movies again (seriously, it took me four attempts to get through The Battle of the Five Armies (and it's the shortest of all six Peter Jackson Middle-earth movies)). In fact I would much rather watch the old 1970's cartoon version of The Hobbit as a prequel to the LOTR. It is more faithful to Tolkien's book in terms of plot and tone and it runs only 77 minutes, which is about how long this trilogy would be if all the superfluous crap were cut out.

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