In Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

by Daniel Goodwin on 10/12/2014


Peter Jackson’s epic foray into Middle-earth finally ends with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies after six films, and thirteen years of exhilarating adventures. The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit adaptations have made an undeniable impact on mainstream cinema, revitalising the fantasy genre with their groundbreaking effects and finely crafted storytelling while introducing a new generation to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Following immediately from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), as the surly dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) obliterates Lake-town, Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) abandons his family and sets out to take on the beast. Meanwhile, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and the dwarves search for the all powerful Arkenstone in Smaug’s Lonely Mountain and armies of orcs, elves and goblins gather on the outskirts of Erebor to get their grubby hands on the riches Smaug napped on for so many years. The growing greed of Prince Thorin (Richard Armitage) incites war, his relationship with Bilbo coming under strain. Elsewhere, Gandalf (Ian McKellen) sets out to escape the clutches of Sauron (Cumberbatch again) with the fighting aid of Cate Blanchett’s Galadriel, Saruman (Christopher Lee) and Elrond (Hugo Weaving).

This series finale is surprisingly character driven, blending ethereal woe amongst the brawny action. Thorin’s internal haunting materializes through a brusque, digitised voice and is a simmering threat, more terrifying than the armies of beasts surrounding the fortress. His conflict with the dwarves provides opaque drama and enriches the story with an emotional depth, offsetting the high-octane battle sequences.

Bizarre horror infuses the action, with slighter bouts equally bracing: Legolas (Orlando Bloom) ascending crumbling concrete blocks to battle the gruesome orc Bolg is truly breathtaking. The cast are also all on top form: Cate Blanchett is both elegant and terrifying as Galadriel, evoking incredible prowess in battle scenes, Freeman is splendid as the humble hobbit Bilbo while McKellen delivers customary ruggedness as the loveable Gandalf.

This final entry is a hugely enjoyable and fitting send off for the franchise. While the Hobbit trilogy hasn’t quite matched the mighty eminence of the Lord of the Rings films, they are finely-crafted examples of fantasy cinema produced with an undeniable love, passion and vitality that is becoming more evident in modern mainstream film-making.

Daniel has awarded The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies four Torches of Truth

4 torches

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