Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies | Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Christopher Lee, Aidan Turner, Hugo Weaving| Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies | Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Christopher Lee, Aidan Turner, Hugo Weaving| Review

Although the second film of the franchise was called The Desolation of Smaug, it’s the opening of this film where you will actually experience the dragon’s wrath on the population of Lake-town.  Director Peter Jackson’s (Lord of the Rings Trilogy) third and final segment of The Hobbit trilogy is a quickie of sorts, with a relatively short running time of 144 minutes.

But oh, what he does with it.  From Bard the Bowman’s piercing shot thru the heart of Smaug’s fiery destruction to an elderly Bilbo receiving a visit from Gandalf, The Battle of the Five Armies ensures that there is nothing middling about Middle Earth.

With their homeland reclaimed, dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and the Company of Dwarves, along with the titular Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) have unintentionally released a destructive flying furnace of a dragon named Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch, voice) upon the hapless citizens of lake-town, turning it into a blazing series of smoking ruin on the water.

Thorin engages in some bad behavior of his own.  Reclaiming Lonely Mountain and its massive treasure has made the king suspicious, greedy and power-mad, refusing to share his wealth with any of his allies.  Bilbo, Bard (Luke Evans) and elk-riding elf Thranduil (Lee Pace) are bewildered and alarmed by Thorin’s demeanor, especially since the approaching Orc army sent by evil Dark Lord Sauron means to converge on the mountain.

Orcs are malevolent, one-note mutants, created to destroy.  Some are battering rams; others are catapults.  Some ride ferocious, wolf-like Wargs. All are hideous and gratifying to eliminate.

On another front, wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and Elf Queen Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), along with wizard Saruman the White (an immortal looking 92-year-old Christopher Lee) fight off Sauron into a temporary suppression, although the deformed Orcs march onward in one-note malevolence, led by Azog the Defiler.

Thorin’s internal and external battles intensify, especially after he finds out that Bilbo is in possession of the precious dwarf family heirloom, the internally lit Arkenstone.  Someone needs an epiphany, and quickly.  As men and elves unite against a literally ugly threat, Bilbo and Thorin must work to reach common ground before there is no ground left.  Will the dwarves fight for their hard-won homeland?  Only for about 100 minutes, a large chunk of the film’s running time.  Hey, there’s “battle” in the title, and battle you shall get.

As far as I can calculate, the five armies are:  Dwarves, Elves, Men, Orcs, and…Wargs?  Eagles?  Bats? Goblins?  Everyone’s swingin’ in this epic, but who’s counting?

CGI combat is everywhere, combined with techno-wizardry that makes for a sumptuously padded story that engages the viewer (perhaps those who have not read the book a bit more than those who have).  One Tolkien aficionado commented on Jackson’s Hobbit habit of  “pulling familiar players from LotR (Legolas, Orlando Bloom) and Galadriel) but introducing entirely new characters (Tauriel, Evangeline Lilly) and relationships (Tauriel and Kili, Aidan Turner) that weren't in the original novel.”

There are many more characters and storylines, underrepresented here as much as they are sumptuously padded by Jackson.  That should even things out.

Jackson seamlessly connects The Hobbit to LotR by film’s end for a satisfying full circle that makes a ring of sorts.