Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Movie Review: The Battle of Five Armies

So I saw this over the holidays--the week it came out, actually. And I'm just now getting around to reviewing it. Being a HUGE fan of all things J.R.R. Tolkien, and greatly loving the first two films, I was of course excited for the third film, but it packed way more of a punch than I expected.

**While I'm careful not to blatantly give anything away, there may be some general spoilers for the story. If you aren't familiar with either film or novel, maybe just skim. :D**

Plot: My biggest complaints about film two (The Desolation of Smaug) was that 1) it ended on a TOTAL cliffhanger, and 2) we didn't actually get to see Smaug die in it (more on that later). The Battle of the Five Armies picked up right at the moment Desolation left off. Smaug attacks Dale and chaos ensues. From there, we go through the final battle for the mountain. We have elves, dwarves, orcs & goblins, the men of Dale, and eagles. Of course there are smaller factions everywhere, so exactly who the five armies are is sometimes unclear to the viewer. 

One really fun thing about The Hobbit films that was at least less present in the original LOTR films is that Jackson makes extensive use of the appendices. That's always fun to see for Tolkien fanatics.

Adaptation: Back to Smaug not dying in film two. Okay, his death was an awesome, adrenaline pumping way to open up the third film, but as a story teller, I still think I'd rather he'd have died at the end of the 2nd film. I'm not sure what spurred this decision. Yeah, it allowed them to end the 2nd film on a cliffhanger, and maybe that's what they were going for, but even so. I'd rather have had a major climax for film two, and then film three could have focused completely on the battle. Also, the title The Desolation of Smaug implied that they'd get him the end. And they...didn't.

Let's put it this way: back in The Two Towers film, they completely put off doing Shelob's lair, partly for linear timing reasons, but mostly because they wanted Helm's Deep to be the climax of the film. Then, this time around, they took the climax large from film 2 and put two MAJOR events in film 3. Don't get me wrong: I wasn't completely put off by this, but I think if they'd have done it differently, it would have made more sense and been better.

Characters: I felt like the film stayed true to the characters and what compelling characters they are. I don't think I had a huge, overt emotional reaction to either of the first two films, other than just the average, "Cool." Of course I didn't see either of the first two films in theaters, either. (Let's face it: the in-your-face, surround-sound experience is a bit different than watching it at home.) Not so this time. I seriously bawled through the entire film. And not just at the tragic parts, but because the entire thing was so compelling. (Yeah, my twelve-year-old brother totally made fun of me. :/ ) That wouldn't have happened without compelling characters. Kudos to Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage as Thorin, Luke Evans, pretty much every dwarf, and Orlando Bloom for bringing our favorite characters to life. Even Legolas got a story line near the end that was brief, but surprisingly compelling.

Effects: Awesome. Just amazing. Best CGI dragon EVER! And who didn't totally go wild for Beorn leaping from an eagle's back and shifting into bear-form mid-air. Awesome! No complaints here.

Extras: Evangeline Lily's Tauriel is a big part of the films, but is a departure from Tolkien (she wasn't in the books). I've never minded her at all. I loved Lily in Lost and could totally see how they used her as a vehicle to deepen the story. I didn't love her, but I didn't mind her either. Just sort of meh. (My brothers would hate me for that. They're all completely in love with her.) Yeah, after film three, I've changed my mind. I freaking love her. The story they did with her and Kili was one of the most compelling of the film, and she had me completely in tears by the end. 

Favorite scenes: I've already mentioned a few of my favorites above, but another I loved was the one where Galadriel went to save Gandalf and faced down the essence of Sauron. Greatest thing ever! Loved it! There was also a kind of sadness to see how powerful Saramon once was before he turned to the dark side. I loved that they showed him fighting alongside Gandalf, Galadriel, and Elrond. Cool, but also melancholy.

Ending: While I pretty much loved everything about the ending, I did wish they have given us a few more Easter eggs that pointed toward the later, LOTR series. For example, it would have been fun to actually see a teenage Aragorn. And I would have loved it if, when Bilbo returned to Bag End, a tiny little boy hobbit had run up to him yelling "Uncle Bilbo, Uncle Bilbo, you're back!" I don't even know if either of those things would have fit into the timeline, but they would have been fun. :D There was, however, mention of a young Aragorn, and an appearance by Ian Holm. I appreciated both. 

Overall: Loved it. If you liked any of the previous middle earth films even a little bit, you'll love it. If you, like me, love all things Tolkien, you'll be ecstatic. If you hated all previous films, well, this one probably won't be much different for you.

(Such a sweet video. The second I heard The Last Goodbye during the credits, I knew I had to have this song in my life. :D)

What did everyone else think of the final middle earth film?


  1. Completely unnecessary, as they could have put Smaug's death at the end of the second one, but I didn't care - I dug it!
    The storyline of Tauriel and Kili was very touching, and very sad in the end.
    Technically, if I remember the books correctly, sixty years pass between the end of the Hobbit and the beginning of LOTR. So neither Aragorn nor Frodo would've been around.
    Overall, I completely enjoyed it and am sad to see the journeys to Middle Earth come to an end.

    1. Ah, I wondered if the timeline was like that. I'm not well-enough versed in the appendices to know for sure. Still would have been cool, though. I'm sad to see them end, too. (Though there have been rumors of a Simarillion film. *fingers crossed*) :D Thanks Alex!