Thursday Night Movie Club
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
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Release Date: 17 December 2014

Director: Peter Jackson
Ian McKellen
Martin Freeman
Richard Armitage
Ken Stott
Graham McTavish
William Kircher
James Nesbitt
Stephen Hunter
Dean O'Gorman
Aidan Turner
John Callen
Peter Hambleton
Jed Brophy
Mark Hadlow
Adam Brown
Orlando Bloom
Evangeline Lilly
Lee Pace
Cate Blanchett
Hugo Weaving
Christopher Lee
Ian Holm
Sylvester McCoy
Luke Evans
Manu Bennett
John Tui
Benedict Cumberbatch
Bilbo Baggins
Old Bilbo
Smaug / Necromancer
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies movie poster The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies movie poster The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies movie poster
Smaug attacks Lake-Town in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesThe is something missing in director Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. After a great opening sequence involving dragon Smaug's attack on Lake-town and the resulting carnage, the remainder of the film becomes one extended battle sequence. There is very little human element in the final film about Middle Earth.

Lake-town is in ruins. The surviving men, women and children have no choice but to make the trecherous trek to the ruins of Dale in the shadow of the Lonely Mountain. Afterall, Thorin Oakenshield promised to help the townspeople in any way he can after their generosity towards them.

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesMeanwhile, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) is being consumed by "dragon-lust". He cannot become the rightful King Under the Mountain without possessing the Arkenstone. Thorin has all of the dwarves searching high and low for the jewel, oblivious to the events unfolding around him.

Bard (Luke Evans) rides to the Lonely Mountain to ask Thorin for help. As his madness grows, Thorin refuses, reneging on his promise. The dwarves are stunned but they are still bound by honor to follow their king.

The story becomes more complicated when Elvish King Thranduil (Lee Pace) learns of the death of Smaug. He is under his own lust for treasure. Thranduil brings his army to the Lonely Mountain with the goal of retreiving some precious white gems, and any other treasure he may lay his hands on.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesOrc King Azog (Manu Bennett) is bent on destroying Thorin once and for all and overtaking the Lonely Mountain for his own. He has allied himself with another Orc army from the North and both Orc armies will easily overthrow the hapless dwarves.

The next day, the armies of Men and Elves arrive at Erebor for one last attempt to sway Thorin or else there will be all-out war. Thorin's cousing Dain Ironfoot (Billy Connolly) arrives with his dwarf army to help Thorin rebuild his kingdom. He is none too thrilled about the Elves readying to attack.

Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Gray in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesOnly wizard Gandalf the Gray (Ian McKellan) knows what is truly going on. Besides the untold riches hidden beneath, the mountain is a strategic location for the growing darkness of Sauron. Control of the mountain is control over the northern lands of Middle Earth.

Stuck squarely in the middle is Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). Bilbo knows Thorin is an honorable man. Thorin goes mad seeking the Arkenstone. Bilbo has found the Arkenstone but he is unsure what to do with it. Bilbo talks to Balin (Ken Stott), who admits he is unsure that possessing the Arkenstone may drive Thorin even deeper into madness.

Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesBilbo is the only one thinking clearly. To end the fued without spilling blood, Bilbo takes the Arkenstone to Dale and gives it to Bard to use as a bargaining chip. Thorin is outraged at Bilbo's treachery. He orders the dwarves to throw Bilbo from the barricade. The dwarves refuse. They understand all to well why Bilbo did what he did.

Up to this point in the film, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a great film full of intrugue, plot and counter-plot. When the Orcs arrive, the former enemies ally themselves to fight a common enemy. All is forgiven. Everyone is happy. Battle ensues. The last half of the film is all battle, all the time.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesThe Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a visually stunning film. Once again, director Peter Jackson perfectly captures Middle Earth so descriptively detailed by author J.R.R. Tolkien. The scenery/backdrops are stunning. The editing keeps the pace going along frantically. Overall, the film is not a satisfactory ending to the trilogy.

The problem may be the lack of humor which humanizes the characters. The film has a serious tone throughout. The only bits of humor come from the former deputy of Lake-town Alfrid (Ryan Gage). Alfrid is no longer in a position of power, yet he is deperate to cling to the past. His feeble attempts to gain control of the Lake-town survivors fall on deaf ears. Bard has become the unofficial leader simply due to he has a plan. Unfortunately, after awhile, Alfrid's preening becomes tired. There is no friendly bi-play as the was between Legolas and Gimli in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Martin Freeman is again excellent as Bilbo Baggins. Unfortunately, his roll in this tale is basically over after he turns over the Arkenstone. For the most part, everyone's part in the film ends once the battle starts. Most of the actors portrayals are excellent. Lee Pace as Thranduil also becomes tiresome by the end. There is nothing wrong with Pace's acting. The script turns Thranduil into an indecisive wimp. One minute, he is ready to pull the elves out of the battle. Then he is gung-ho fighting all out. Then, Thranduil is ready to quit again before he rejoins the battle. Someone needs to neatly trim Thranduil's hair, with an axe to the neck.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesThe battle ends. There are a few thank yous and tearful goodbyes. Bilbo is back home in the Shire. All is right in Middle Earth. Except for Gandalf's warning to Bilbo about magic rings.

The novel, as written by Tolkien, was tailored more for children than adults. Therein lies the rub. Peter Jackson filmed the novel in the same fashion as The Rings Trilogy rather than as Tolkien himself wrote and envisioned the story.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is not a bad film. The movies just doesn't reach the same level of sheer greatness as "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Not everyone is great everytime! The film is still much better than most films released in a given year.