“The Battle of the Five Armies” is the third in a trilogy of Peter Jackson films based on “The Hobbit,” a children’s novel by J. R. R. Tolkien. In the edition I have on my shelf, “The Hobbit” is just 287 pages long. For fans of Tolkien, using three chapters to tell the tale has prolonged the pleasure. For other less fanatic moviegoers, this film will at least be found entertaining.
It takes 144 minutes to tell the last 50 pages of the novel with this film. The producers wanted this last installment of the series to bridge the gap between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, so more details and dialogue were added to make that possible.
As in the other films based on “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings,” there are lots of really evil “orcs” and goblins, trolls and giants that are easy to despise. These guys have no redeeming qualities.
Movie poster for ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.’ Courtesy/Real Deal Theater
The good guys are the loyal and true dwarves and Bilbo Baggins, the heroic hobbit. Add in the immortal and mystical elves, plus the men of Lake City whose town is destroyed by Smaug the dragon. Wizards are involved here and there, and eagles show up in time to help. But there are plenty of dark forces, against which the good guys seem totally outnumbered.
The majority of the film is taken up with battle scenes, as the title would indicate. Here is where computer generated imagery fills the screen, rendering hordes of orcs and elves and dwarves coming from every angle. To their credit, the producers chose not to use blood and gore for dramatic effect. When the swords, arrows, spears and really ugly weapons are used to kill, the dead just fall over.
What is worthy of our time in this film are the touching scenes of heroism, friendship, and good versus evil. Greed is shown as a sickness. Honor falls victim to the scourge of greed and covetousness. But loyalty and goodness win in the end. (And the costumes are pretty awesome, too!)
Martin Freeman plays the ever likeable hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, and Ian McKlellan returns as Gandalf the wizard. Richard Armitage is the troubled dwarf leader, Thorin Oakenshield. Lee Pace is Thranduil, leader of the wood-elves; Orlando Bloom returns as Legolas; Evangeline Lilly plays Tauriel, an elf in love with the heroic dwarf, Kili, played by Aidan Turner. Cate Blanchet is Galadriel, using her powers against the necromancer, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch (as is Smaug).
The film is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.