“I am sorry that I made you a part of my perils,” says Thorin Oakenshield. Bilbo Baggins responds, “No. I am glad to have shared in your perils. That is more than any Baggins deserves.”
Having enjoyed Peter Jackson’s first two entries in his The Hobbit trilogy (2012’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and 2013’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) very much, I was looking forward to the final installment with a great amount of anticipation (particularly the epic battle for the Lonely Mountain). Although some have argued that Jackson has really stretched the series more than he should have, I am in the camp that disagrees with that notion and have enjoyed the adventures of Bilbo and the band of dwarves (if anything, all of the additions Jackson made has enhanced the novel’s straight-forward, children-friendly dwarf adventure). I got to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies recently in regular 3D, and it was quite an exciting finale to the trilogy. If J.R.R. Tolkien had been alive today, I think he would have been pleased with both cinematic adaptations of The Lord of the Rings AND The Hobbit.
2014’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies follows Bilbo Baggins along his journey with Thorin Oakenshield and the band of dwarves as they reclaim Erebor and its riches inside. Thorin is stricken with dragon’s sickness and becomes obsessed with finding the Arkenstone; his deepening greed brings him into conflict with both the people of Lake-Town (who seek shelter after Smaug destroyed their town as well as a share of the gold that they were promised if they helped Thorin and the dwarves reach Erebor) and the woodland elves led by King Thranduil (who seeks to reclaim a necklace of elf gems that are very valuable to him). There are also two armies of orcs and goblins led by Azog the Defiler that are making their way to Erebor to take the mountain from the dwarves, and Bilbo struggles to help Thorin regain his sanity. The terrific screenplay by Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens resolves storylines set up in the first two films as well as bridges those that continue into The Lord of the Rings trilogy and delivers the goods on the big battle. The resolution to the developing romance between the dwarf Kili and the elf Tauriel was very touching and surprising.
Jackson’s returning cast shines once again: Martin Freeman (as Bilbo), Ian McKellan (as Gandalf), Richard Armitage (as Thorin), Graham McTavish (as Dwalin), Ben Stott (as Balin), Aidan Turner (as Kili), Dean O’Gorman (as Fili), Mark Hadlow (as Dori), Jed Brophy (as Nori), Adam Brown (as Ori), John Callen (as Oin), Peter Hambleton (as Gloin), William Kircher (as Bifur), James Nesbitt (as Bofur), Stephen Hunter (as Bombur), Sylvester McCoy (as Radagast the Brown), Manu Bennett (as Azog the Defiler), Lee Pace (as Thranduil), Cate Blanchett (as Galadriel), Christopher Lee (as Saruman), Hugo Weaving (as Elrond), Benedict Cumberbatch (as the Necromancer and Smaug), Orlando Bloom (as Legolas), Evangeline Lilly (as Tauriel), Luke Evans (as Bard), Stephen Fry (as the Master of Lake-Town), Mikael Persbrandt (as Beorn), and Ian Holm (as the older Bilbo). New additions to the cast include Billy Connolly (as Dain, Thorin’s cousin) and John Tui (who takes over as Bolg).
Jackson’s direction is top-notch once again, as is Andrew Lesnie’s beautiful cinematography and Dan Hennah’s production design (the locations for the big battle were impressive). The makeup design by Peter King and Rick Findlater was superb, as were the costume designs by Bob Buck and Ann Maskrey. Weta’s special effects delivered once again (the big battle was well-executed and delivered the action goods, especially the individual set pieces by the frozen lake). Jabez Olssen’s editing moves the film at a good pace, deftly juggling all of the various story arcs. Howard Shore delivers another great score, briefly revisiting his hobbit motif while adding new motifs and thunderous action music in his farewell to Middle Earth. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a fitting end to The Hobbit trilogy and another fine addition to The Lord of the Rings franchise. Although it’s difficult to live up to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Jackson’s return trip to Middle Earth has been a worthwhile one and nearly just as good.