“So began a battle that none had expected; and it was called the Battle of the Five Armies, and it was very terrible.” —J.R.R. Tolkien
How do I review a movie that I’ve been anticipating for what feels like eons? And how do I begin a review for the final movie from Tolkien’s Middle-earth tales?
My inner Canadian is urging me to do some thank-yous first:
Peter Jackson, thank you. J.R.R. Tolkien, thank you. Cast, crew, and special effects team, thank you. And Billy Boyd, thank you for being the voice that led us fans out of this world with your beautiful, gripping ‘The Last Good-bye.’
Now, without further ado, the actual review (which has major spoilers).
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies opens exactly where The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ended. Smaug the dragon has been unleashed upon the folks of Laketown. As fire and destruction rain down over the unsuspecting townsfolk, Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) steps into action. After the dragon is slayed, we get to watch Thorin’s (Richard Armitage) descent into “dragon sickness,” which eventually causes the elves to assemble an army and threaten the dwarves. But soon—and Peter Jackson didn’t waste any time in the final film; things jump right into action, which I loved—the battle between the five armies (dwarves, elves, humans, orcs and wargs, and then the eagles) erupts on and near the Lonely Mountain.
The final Hobbit movie is quick-paced, the battle scenes zipping from character to character. As someone who isn’t a fan of slow-paced films, I loved this. It was great to see the scenes switch from one army to another and not linger on just one for too long.
My favorite army was the elves (I’ve always been a huge fan of the elves) and, despite his cockiness and arrogance, I think I fell a little bit in love with Thranduil (Lee Pace). I can’t help it—his smirk and air of confidence is just so alluring. I also loved Legolas (Orlando Bloom) more than ever before; his character seemed darker, more serious, in Battle of the Five Armies. And we finally get to see him run out of arrows.
For those looking for a little romance, you’ll get just that with the sweet love dance between Kili (Aidan Turner), Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), and Legolas. I think this little side story was a great addition to the films, but for those who can’t bear the thought of a movie straying from the source material, you might find yourself angrily shifting in your seat and furrowing your brow during those scenes. Just don’t furrow too hard; it causes wrinkles.
We can’t forget about our little hobbit himself, Bilbo Baggins. One of the scenes in the Battle of the Five Armies movie that I was especially looking forward to was where he gives the Arkenstone to Thranduil so the elves would have something to persuade Thorin with. Bilbo was as brave as ever, and most importantly, an amazing friend—even though his attempt at keeping the peace pissed Thorin off. Bilbo’s intentions are always good though. In the end, when it was time to say good-bye to Thorin Oakenshield, we get to see just how much Bilbo loved and admired the greedy dwarf. The final scene between Bilbo and Thorin is heartbreaking, so brace yourselves. You’ve been warned.
Another heartbreaking scene is when Tauriel learns that love, when it’s real, hurts like hell as she says good-bye to Kili. Peter Jackson might be a pro at orchestrating armies of orcs, wargs, elves, etc., but he’s also great at getting his audience right in the feels. That scene murdered my heart.
But don’t worry, because if you’re looking for a laugh, this movie has that, too, thanks to Laketown’s Alfrid Lickspittle (Ryan Gage). If you’ve ever wanted to see good ol’ Alfrid dressed up as a lady, then you’re in for a treat. I actually quite like his character and the comic relief he brings. He might be an untrustworthy, greedy little rat, but he’s a humorous untrustworthy, greedy little rat, and Ryan Gage does such a great job with that role.
Near the end of the film we get to see Bilbo and Gandalf have a nice little chat. It’s bittersweet and brings the Hobbit to fruition. Bilbo’s adventure started with Gandalf, and it ended with Gandalf. Bilbo is forever changed, in a good way, from his journey to and from The Lonely Mountain, and Galdalf recognizes this. There is also a brief discussion about The One Ring, which Galdalf merely suspects is a magic ring.
Lastly, Billy Boyd’s ‘The Last Goodbye’ was touching and, I won’t lie, almost brought a tear to my eye. As I stood up out of my seat, it was hard to accept that this is the end. We’ve followed Bilbo on his journey from the Shire, to the Lonely Mountain, and back again.
And what a great journey it was.