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The Battle of the Five Armies

© 2014 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved.

Review by Dalia Di Giacomo and Production Notes


Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield.  The international ensemble cast is led by Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Billy Connolly, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Aidan Turner, Dean O'Gorman, Graham McTavish, Stephen Fry, and Ryan Gage.   The film also stars Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom, Mikael Persbrandt, Sylvester McCoy, Peter Hambleton, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Adam Brown, John Bell, Manu Bennett and John Tui. The screenplay for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.


Will you fight with me one last time?” —Thorin Oakenshield  


After  2012’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and  2013’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies third and final film of the trilogy (from Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson) brings to a conclusion the adventure, which is prequel to The Lord of the Rings. The film  is spectacular, focussed on external scenes. It maintains the taste (or should we say it gives a preview?) of the epic battles of The Lord of The Rings. To see the film in 3D (shot 48 frames-per-second) is a must, because the effects are so well done and many scenes are really acrobatic (some scenes with Legolas battling against the Orcs are maybe too animated).  Oscar-winning studio Weta Digital is again handling the visual effects for the film.

The fact is that this film is cool yet it seems not  so splendid as we all expected. One has the impression something has been omitted even if there are really emotional moments. On the other hand,  it's for purpose that this film lets a kind of bitter aftertaste. An adventure ends and , at the same time, we have the dawn of another epic trilogy. This film acts as bridge between two epos. Under this point of view everything is impeccable. After having seen The Battle of the Five Armies, you HAVE to watch the first part of The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), because the junction between the two could not be better indeed, at least on the screen. The threat of the Evil which will be unleashed in The Lord of the Rings begins to take form.  Dwarves, Elves and Men are ready  to battle each another for wealth and power, but they very quick team together when the Dark Lord’s armies of Orcs are descending on the Lonely Mountain. An ancient enemy has returned to Middle-earth.  Sauron, the Dark Lord,sends legions of Orcs in a breathtaking attack.   The orcs are  mighty  protagonists of the movie, and believe me if i say that i was tempted to take side with them. Only the character of Thorin Oakenshield prevented me to do so. 

Obsessed with  the Arkenstone, the King Under the Mountain will redeem himself, but there will be no happy end for him.  Related to this, Bilbo Baggins is the one who has to face a deeper test concerning Thorin Oakenshield:

“You are changed, Thorin.  Is this treasure worth more than your honor?” —Bilbo  

Martin Freeman, The Hobbit Trilogy’s Bilbo Baggins, comments: Bilbo’s relationship with Thorin started out very rocky, but has thawed to become quite cordial, so, for him, to see what’s happening to Thorin is like losing a close friend.  Thorin has become consumed with this all-encompassing greed and fear—fear of losing anything, fear of giving anything away; he has to keep the treasure close at all costs. Thorin, poisoned by the Gold of Smaug, Thorin, "too blind to see", will battle for his soul, and in this fight he must be alone. To not resist gold is the Dragon-sickness. “Thorin had looked into his grandfather’s eyes and seen the madness of Dragon-sickness firsthand” Armitage says  “But he has suppressed the fear it provoked in him so deeply that he can’t see what is happening to him even as it slowly consumes him.”

Starring in this movie  is surely the scene of the battle of the White Council, with  Queen Galadriel,  against Sauron. Gandalf, fallen directly into the Dark Lord’s trap, would  face certain death within the catacombs of the ruined fortress of Dol Guldur without the intervention of the White Council. Gandalf's life is saved, but, on the contrary, The White Wizard Saruman will be "at the precipice" of his dark adventure


But already at the beginning we experience a lot of involvement when Smaug attacks Lake-town and when he miscalculate men. Luke Evans reprises his role as Bard the Bowman, whose lineage traces back to the last Man to fire a bow at the Dragon:  Girion, Lord of Dale.  Luke has brought an enigmatic quality, but in this film, you get to see him step up to the role of hero” says Jackson “Bard has hidden his lineage from even his own children, which goes back to the tragedy that occurred in Dale, the home of Bard’s ancestors.  He is also the only true bowman left in Lake-town.  So, in a way, Bard is destined to meet this Dragon eye-to-eye.

In The Lord of the Rings we will not see Tauriel again Tauriel’s story is resolved in sadness, as well as the story of Thorin. “There is a lot of resolution for Tauriel in this film” says Lilly  but, of course, she’s an Elf—she lives forever—so you don’t get an ‘ending’; you just have resolution for this particular part of her story.”

The epic battle at the center of this film is the climax of three movies’ worth of storylines, which all continue to play out even as armies are clashing on the battlefield” Jackson says “There is a lot of suspense and tension, triumph as well as tragedy, as the various agendas and personal conflicts between the characters come to a head.  Everything we’ve seen—who these characters are, what each of them is fighting for—leads to this moment.  I think it’s the most powerful and emotional of the three ‘Hobbit’ films, and honors each character with whom we’ve gone on this journey.

This film shows again care about costumes, weapons, details of every kind related to the stories  of the different folks. Trolls , giant Berserker - orcs, giant bats round the epic battle of the movie. A good portion of the battle is entirely digital—the armies, the creatures, the action and the fighting” notes visual effects supervisor Matt Aitken  “Then there are the effects – fire, smoke, destruction.  All of this had to be meticulously combined, detailed and refined to appear seamless and palpably real.

Well, my dear readers and Tolkien fans, enjoy or mourne this "last goodbye".  


Review by Dalia Di Giacomo

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