The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ian McKellen
The third installment of The Hobbit franchise picks up right where The Desolation of Smaug ends, which is Smaug flying towards Lake-town to burn everything to the ground. The dwarves and Bilbo can only watch from the mountain as Smaug ignites the island city. You can see the looks on their guilty faces, except for Thorin (Richard Armitage), who falls prey to “dragon sickness.”
During the attack, Bard the Bowman escapes from his prison cell and slays the dragon. He’s a hero and now the leader of the remaining from Lake-town. As a character, Bard is certainly one we root for without knowing much about. We see his family and young children run for their lives. We see Bard save hundreds and make allies with the Elves, but at the other end is Thorin and the mountain of treasure. He’s unwilling to pay back his dept for Bard’s help and he’s definitely not giving the Elvish one coin. This means war.
While The Battle of Five Armies offers a lot of action (seriously, there is a crap-load of action in the finale), it feels awfully hollow at the end. Aside from Bilbo (thanks to Martin Freeman), there wasn’t another character that we really could stand behind during the thrilling moments in the battlefield. Like I said earlier, Bard was a hero but was a one-dimensional character. And because this is a prequel, we already knew that Gandolf, Saruman, and Legalos weren’t in any danger. This isn’t the fault of the film, but just the struggle of creating prequels.
Probably my favorite scene of the film involved Gandalf, Saruman, and Galdriel as they fend off the evil forces of Sauron, the Dark Lord. It’s one that reminds us how well Peter Jackson can bring you into a scene full of incredible imagery and magic. As the good guys battle the ghosts/shadows, this scene by far trumps over the thousands that are fighting for the mountain. And even though we already know the outcome because of its direct connection to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s still a great sequence of violence with dire circumstances.
With all the battles and the violence and the CGI littering the majority of the film, the center of it all is Bilbo, who through this journey has befriended Thorin and takes it among himself to bring him back from his dragon sickness. And once again, we learn that even though hobbits are little people, they have great big hearts. But Freeman’s Bilbo couldn’t entirely save this film, mainly because of the uninteresting other characters that we were clearly supposed to care deeply about.
The Hobbit trilogy cannot be discussed on the same level as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but that was an almost impossible challenge to begin with. For what it was, The Hobbit trilogy offered us to drive into the fantasy world again where good meets evil and where greed and arrogance are challenged by the purest of creatures that no one expected to make a difference.