The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Wow, this journey of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien films started in 2001; now, 13 years later we have the final installment in what has become a masterpiece series of films, each as equally epic as the other. Tolkien is my favorite author with The Lord of the Rings being my favorite book and The Hobbit as a close second. The movies have turned out to be my favorite films of all time. To be at the end is a bittersweet experience, it’s hard to imagine there won’t be any more and I have to admit that I’m strongly hoping that there isn’t a reboot in my lifetime, it would be like someone redoing Stairway to Heaven because they didn’t think the Led Zeppelin version was good enough…

Onto my last Hobbit film review.

The story picks up right where the second film left off as Smaug is descending on Laketown and doesn’t really slow down much from there ’til the end. Everything is settled in this installment, no more cliff hangers. There’s plenty of action obviously with the powers of Middle Earth converging on Erebor to settle debts and take control of the wealth beneath the mountain. Building up to the epic battle at the end, we get to see a confrontation between Sauron, Elrond, Galadriel, Saruman, and The Nine. Amazing getting to see Galadriel and Saruman in action! The writing is excellent by the way including plenty of moments you’ve always wanted to see happen as well as in depth experiences with a number of the characters such as getting to explore the madness of Thorin once he seizes control of the dwarve’s treasure and brief glimpses of the love story between Kili and Tauriel. The writing is every bit as strong as it’s been in each film and feels like all one big cohesive story that gets resolved perfectly.

The actors all turn in engaging performances, everyone was truly living in the skin of those characters and brought strength, passion and realism consistently. Richard Armitage is especially intense as Thorin grows more and more insane. Martin Freeman as Bilbo couldn’t have been more perfect casting. He mirrors the ticks of Ian Holm’s original performance while still leaving his own stamp on the character playing different dynamics as Bilbo discovers the depths of his courage and loyalty. Speaking of perfect casting, I don’t know of anyone that could have played Gandalf anywhere close to how well Sir Ian McKellen played that role. I could go on about all the actors but I’d just be saying the same thing over and over, that they’re all amazing. The lineup includes Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Billy Connolly, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner and many, many more…

Visually, it’s every bit as beautifully done as the rest of the films once again demonstrating why Weta is the best in the business. I’ve seen the film twice now, once in the HFR (high frame rate) format. The detail is breath taking, especially getting to see Smaug in 3D right in my face. The sequences with the orc, elf and dwarf armies are vast and spectacular, seeming like their numbers go on forever. The design of the landscapes, the costumes, the creatures are all what you hoped you’d see in the world that Tolkien so expertly crafted.

As for the director, well, Peter Jackson is easily in my top 5 favorite directors of all time. He and his team have put a very special collection of films together that is hard to match in terms of quality. Few series can say they live in that same level of legend but I would include the Star Wars and Harry Potter films. Jackson’s love for the stories has been evident the whole way through the process. The painstaking attention that he took to the story and all the related components to creating the films are above and beyond; if you don’t believe me watch any of the DVD/Blu-ray extras and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Regardless he has delivered a body of films that will put him in the “timeless” category (at least until holograms become the next thing).

I can’t say enough about how much these films have moved me and what they mean to me, it’s beyond what I can express in words. Suffice it to say thank you to the people responsible for bringing the world of Tolkien to the big screen, it’s truly been an honor to behold and a magnificent experience.

reviewed by Sean McKnight