The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
I have two words for The Battle of the Five Armies:
Yes, it was so epic that it took me almost a month to put down my thoughts and feelings (of which there are A LOT) about it.
I don’t even know if the movie is still showing anywhere, but I’m going to be conscientious here and say that there will be major spoilers. I learned my lesson when I was talking to someone about the first film, and I assumed that he had read the book, and apparently I spoiled the ending for him. So yes, there will be SPOILERS.
First of all, Bard. Bard, Bard, Bard. That shot at the dragon was so dramatic, with his son Bain acting as the bow. That was not how it happened in the book, but it did not take anything away from the story. In fact, if I recall correctly, the killing of Smaug was dealt with in almost a throwaway manner, or at least with just a couple of paragraphs saying Bard shot Smaug with the arrow. But that’s the genius of Peter Jackson, especially with the Hobbit trilogy. He really gets the essence of the story so the movie unfolds exactly as it does in your imagination when you read the book. It’s just not as awesome, of course.Then when you reread the book, you realize he expanded a paragraph into a whole hour.
On a totally fangirl note, my heart broke a little bit when my niece told me that Luke Evans is gay. Whyyyy.
Thranduil. Let me just state for the record that Lee Pace is the most perfect incarnation of an elf ever. Yes, even better than Orlando Bloom as Legolas and juuust a smidge better than Cate Blanchett as Galadriel. Lee Pace’s Thranduil is everything you imagine an elf should be when you read the LOTR books, and The Hobbit, and the Silmarillion, and the Unfinished Tales. He embodies that androgynous, ageless persona so well, in a way that Hugo Weaving did not. All I remember thinking when I saw Fellowship was, that’s not how I pictured Elrond at all. Weaving did have his moment in Battle of Five Armies and he was a rightful badass, but still, he is not a beautiful elf.
Lee Pace’s interpretation of the ambiguity of Thranduil, along with his almost snakelike movements, was just perfect. He also had a spectacular fight scene in the battle, where he wielded two swords while fighting the orcs. So majestic. I knew that he didn’t die in the book, so I was pretty relaxed in that scene. I maybe held my breath for just a few seconds. But the death of his
moose elk horse elk-horse? really got to me.
Which brings us to the tear-inducing moments of the movie. Of which there were a lot. I have a level of crying I can only call Whovian. It’s the kind of crying reserved for Doctor Who Christmas specials and regenerations, the kind where I am audibly sobbing, my nose is running, and my shoulders are shaking. That is how, embarrassingly enough, I cried at The Battle of Five Armies. My niece and I watched at a very small theater, and I think our sobs and sniffs were heard by everyone. I had a box of tissues, and as the tears started to flow, I saw my niece out of the corner of my eye starting to cry too. So I noiselessly handed her the tissues, and I just held it between our two seats so we could both try to preserve our dignity. (We failed).
The book has a much lighter tone than the movie, and definitely more than even the Lord of the Rings books. But even with its more whimsical quality, Thorin’s death brought me to tears every time. Whenever I read the book, a part of me would dread that section, and I would wish that it wouldn’t happen. Every time. So I was mentally prepared when it came to the movie. But it was no use. I still cried like a baby at that death scene. Especially when he said that beautiful line, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
Richard Armitage really did a great job as Thorin. Even when he was being a jerk to Bilbo, and an unreasonable miser towards the end, he was still likeable because we understood why he was that way. In the book Thorin was described more than once as “arrogant”, and he had every right to be. He was a king, after all. But you never hated him. And that scene where he finally comes out and meets Dain!
The story of Thorin is one of the saddest in Middle-earth. He never got to be a king with a kingdom. All his reign was spent as an exile from his own land, taking pretty menial jobs. And then to have that moment of redemption and to make up with Bilbo at the end, you had to feel for him.
The goodbye scene with Bilbo and the dwarves was so beautifully played by everyone involved. Martin Freeman has this wonderful way with little facial expressions or almost throwaway gestures that convey so much.
Orlando Bloom as Legolas was pretty awesome too. I loved the scene where he saved Thorin’s life from the orc by throwing his sword at it. The look on his face as if to say, “Seriously? I’m going to give up my weapon just to save this dwarf, again?” But he did it anyway. Orlando Bloom has really mastered that little look that expresses a whole page of emotions.
Other highlights: the battle of the White Council. Cate Blanchett is a total boss bitch. Elrond was pretty badass too. Also the elves’ stealth move of hiding behind the dwarves’ shields and jumping from their backs to attack the orcs. Yes, it was CGI, but it was beautiful CGI for all that.
Also a highlight? The closing credits. Billy Boyd’s song did not help with the tears at. all. As for the artwork depicting the characters as their names were shown, I have no words except perfect. They made it seem like you were looking at sketches of people who lived way before you, but who were real. Like actors who take their final bow before the curtain closes. I haven’t been able to confirm it, but the drawings have to be by Alan Lee and John Howe, right?
There was also this beautiful moment towards the end, with Legolas and Thranduil. We all know how Peter Jackson tied The Hobbit together with The Lord of the Rings by surprising us with that Elijah Wood cameo in the first movie. While watching this last one, I just kept hoping that they would make a mention of Aragorn to complete the circle. I knew it would be too much to hope for a Viggo Mortensen appearance because it just wouldn’t make sense. But guess what? They did mention him! Thranduil tells his son to look for a Ranger named Strider, and that he must find out Strider’s real name for himself. Awesome.
This movie was pretty perfect for me, as you can see from this epically long review. The one thing that kept me from giving it a perfect 10 was Kili’s death scene. My heart was already shredded to pieces after seeing Fili’s death and how everybody had to witness it. But to have Kili’s death be somehow because of Tauriel and not in defense of Thorin (as in the book), or even to avenge his brother (as it would have made sense in the movie), just watered it down. Must there always be a romantic love angle to everything? This story did not need that, because the love of kin was stronger than anything, especially with what the dwarves endured here and in their history. It would have been more poignant if they showed that Kili died for his brother and for Thorin.
But still, it’s a small gripe and something I can live with. And now that I am singing the praises of this last Hobbit movie, I can be honest and say that the first two movies were not all that perfect. There were some pretty dull and dragging parts. But this third movie more than made up for those. It closed the trilogy in a most satisfying way. I just can’t believe that this is the end of Middle-earth. NO. There’s still The Silmarillion, waiting for Peter Jackson’s magic touch to turn it into an epic mini-series that will blow Game of Thrones out of the water. Get to work, Jackson.