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Film Review – The Hobbit Franchise (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies) – CONTAINS SPOILERS

With the final instalment of the Hobbit just coming out in cinemas now, I thought it was time I wrote a review about the movie for the first fantasy novel ever written. I’ve never written movie review before, so here goes! (NB: I will be doing the Lord of the Rings in a separate post, I don’t know when-it’s very down the list of blog posts to write.) This is quite a long post, and contains spoilers for the third and final film, so watch out!

This is mainly centred towards the third film rather than the first second: firstly, I wanted to shed more light on the third film since that is the newest and secondly I didn’t actually like the first two instalments of The Hobbit (sorry, don’t cry).

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I put these two together because, to be honest, I didn’t like them. After being a great fan of Lord of the Rings surreal and realistic battle scenes and pretty memorable speeches Unexpected Journey just didn’t have that spark of love in it. After spending forty minutes dozing around in Bag End listening to dwarf songs and cutlery falling on the floor, I’d be surprised if you were still slightly awake still (not to mention the fact that the Extended Edition just adds more dwarf songs and staring at clouds, especially in Rivendell. Sure it’s pretty but we don’t need to focus on it- we could see its splendour when we were reaching there. The dialogue is average at best, the plotline cheesy and the whole thing seems to be a ruse-even the eagles, which once again come to the Company’s rescue, with Gandalf then healing Thorin (too bad he wasn’t there for Boromir, or Faramir, or even Eowyn at that. A shame.) The second movie doesn’t improve on its Hollywood cheesiness-the Master of Lake-town being quite thoroughly bad and where the Company comes back just in time to save the moon-rune key from tumbling off the edge thanks to Bilbo’s slippery fingers. The scene with Smaug and Bilbo playing at riddles with each other was quite interesting though, showing the sly and cunning of Smaug (although wherever he got it from, being stuck in a mountain of gold all his life, only he knows), with fun dialogue. But I still didn’t have a very high view on the first two movies; the 48fps, making Legolas’ eyes go icy blue, obviously fake, and everything else as happy-dappy as Pyro Land not helping at all.

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Above from top to bottom: Brown-eyed Legolas from The Two Towers, and blue-eyed Legolas from Desolation of Smaug, not looking very friendly.

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

WARNING: There may be spoilers-I’m writing this in advance. Be warned! If you haven’t watched Battle of the Five Armies you should probably go see it first! If you haven’t watched anything from the LOTR franchise at all…it’s your call. Don’t say I didn’t tell you!

I watched The Battle of the Five Armies on December 12th, the first day it was screening in England. I was expecting something unfulfilling for the last ever(ever?) film for J.R.R Tolkiens spectacular Middle-Earth adventures, so I was taken aback when within the first fifteen minutes of the movie Smaug was dead (by Bard’s hand, obviously) and Esgaroth burning into the Long Lake (I warned you.). For someone who had been twiddling his thumbs with the first two Hobbit movies this was quick delivery of action. Or maybe he realised he was going to have to stuff a lot of content into 1 movie and started finally piecing it all together.

 

The rest of the movie is mainly centred on the Battle of the Five Armies, and I’ll go over all of them now, as well as other key members:

·        Woodland Elves-Led by Thranduil, the Woodland Elf King who rides on stags and does everything with a very regal flourish that even Saruman would be jealous of. Everyone knows that elven warriors are fast, deadly and honestly speaking would make very good Dark Brotherhood assassins. So when we get a whole force of them similar to the ones at Helms Deep, who even with the diminishing strength of the elves during the Third Age were very strong and were a vital aid in holding the keep from the thousands of hordes of angry Uruk’hai, we know we’re in luck. When they turn against the dwarves though and nearly attack them at the gates of Erebor, their ancient hostility rekindled towards each other you get all fired up at trying to stop them, although shouting at a screen doesn’t really help. Eventually they work together when the orcs come in from Gundabad and the Misty Mountains, with two of their best fighters as we all know, Legolas and Tauriel, going to defeat Azog at the centre post where he is commandeering his forces (although why such a powerful foe should just stand on a cliff and wave flags about instead of go down and fight and scare them all witless.)

·        Dwarves-Mainly from the Iron Hills led by Dain, a pig riding dwarf and Thorin’s cousin, but of course there is Thorin’s company themselves, who finally stir themselves into action after a mortifying and slightly odd scene with Thorin battling the dragon sickness that overthrows him in the first parts of the film, because you know, thirteen dwarves are a much more compelling force than five hundred (checked it up) Iron Hill dwarves all suited up and experienced fighters (I doubt Fili and Kili are that, which is probably why they -). Later they go to defeat Azog, going before the elves, riding on goats that randomly form out of the blue-they obviously didn’t come with them to the mountain, and Dain didn’t give them over to him, and I find it unbelievable that four goats had managed to survive in a gold-infested palace habituated by a very recently deceased large hungry dragon (well he can’t eat gold can he?). And when Fili is murdered in front of Kili, Thorin and Dwalin’s eyes and they end up fighting the orcs at the centre post along with Bilbo who can somehow run faster than mountain goats (did he climb up the mountain?), where does Dwalin go? We see him fighting at the start, but after Bilbo is knocked out by an orc he seems to simply vanish from the place, leaving Kili, Tauriel, Legolas and most importantly Thorin, who as a result gets himself killed, but not before a lovely dying speech in front of Bilbo. Kili also dies too, much to your surprise (and you were hoping against hopes that the man-made love triangle would continue), leaving Tauriel to grief in absolute agony, which Thranduil, who arrives for the aftermath, finally calls ‘real love’.

·        Men of Lake-town-Bard the Bowman takes his rightful place as kind-of ruler and commands any remaining people from Esgaroth who can still fight and battle it out in the ruins of Dale (what do you call a ruined ruin?). They are smaller in number though, and their battle is a lot direr, almost making Thranduil, who lovingly decides to help them out at first, retreat, saying ‘too much elven blood has been spilt already’. They kind of fade off towards the end of the film, though there are some nice touches with Bard’s family and the Master of Lake-town’s little craven, who dresses up in woman’s clothes and is lusty for money, providing a double act of funniness (I’ll go over this later).

·      The Orcs of Moria and Gundabad-Commanded by Azog the Defiler orcs in a host greater than any other, this is a Middle-Earth spectacle we won’t be forgetting too soon. Altogether just imagine the amount of orcs at Helm’s Deep times 3, and there you have it-the biggest and baddest crew of baddies you’ll ever see. You wonder why they don’t use the wryms, however, as an attacking force in Battle of the Five Armies, or, in that matter, in any of the three LOTR movies-and why aren’t they using the trolls for attacking methods? What use are they being crossbow stands like Bard’s boy when shooting down Smaug when they could be slaughtering the dwarves? There were some trolls attacking Dale but certainly not cave trolls since the one at Moria took several elven arrows in the head to kill and a lot of beatings with swords, axes and stones (good job there, Merry and Pippin). And don’t forget that [the majority of] the Fellowship, such as Gandalf, Aragorn and Legolas, were experienced fighters so they would have been extremely hard to kill, especially with such poor weapons, small numbers and low morale (the people of Esgaroth); they definitely wouldn’t be getting stronger, but weaker, just like the elves during the Third Age which is why they eventually retreated Into the West-the Fourth Age was dominated by Men-oh yes, and dwarves. Although, as this very funny clip points out by reiterating the orcs speech into a more coherent one, why didn’t Azog just wait? He’s bad but not stupid-this isn’t Dumb and Dumber. Obviously tensions were getting higher and it was going to be a bloodbath, with Thorin loftily watching from his gate as his cousin’s army get massacred, elves dying left and right and the men from Esgaroth all but eliminated, so why didn’t he just wait a day? Attack them while they’re straggled and weak? Nope-just force them to work together instead of butchering themselves for you.

·      The Eagles-Our pals the eagles are once again there to help, led by Radagast the Brown (possibly commissioned to this task by Gandalf, or maybe he just decided to do it himself) and Beorn, the bear-man. In the book he had a lot more importance, rescuing Thorin from the battlefield when he was struck down and being a mighty influence by terrifying the orcs with his immense size and loud roar, so I feel like they didn’t give him enough credit on his behalf (although I do feel like they gave too much for him in the Desolation of Smaug-it’s so cheesy [his scene] it made my stomach turn with disappointment), showing a lousy uninformative shot of him jumping off his eagle and starting to attack any orcs nearby. We might as well just throw Bilbo and Gandalf into this category as well, since they don’t really fit anywhere else. Gandalf, after a frightening appearance from Galadriel’s true self (so now that bit in the Fellowship of the Ring all makes sense with Frodo at Lorien) when she tries to rescue him from the wrath of Gundabad (thank God Lord Elrond and Saruman were there to help, even if we don’t really know where Saruman’s ambitions lie at this point, knowing what side he will join at the start of the Lord of the Rings, although the end line from him is very ominous-“I will deal with him”-cue imposing look) tries to do a bit of peace-talk at the gates of the Lonely Mountain. When the battle starts he doesn’t do all too much-neither does Bilbo for that matter, who gets knocked out stone cold at the centre post after rushing to warn the four dwarves of the second advancing army from Gundabad.

Here’s some FAQ’s relating to what happens in The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies…

What happens to Legolas and Tauriel if Kili dies?

Ending the love triangle makes sense now as to why Legolas left Thranduil to go to the North to find “a Ranger amongst the Dunedain…in the North they call him Strider, but his true name you will have to find out for yourself.”, leaving all positions of power behind him. This is also why he is a nicer chap than he was in The Hobbit, particularly in The Desolation of Smaug with his icy blue eyes…all I know about Tauriel is that Thranduil realises that Kili really was her true love, not just ‘puppy love’ as they call it.

The Master of Lake-town and his servant? Did they escape?

The Master’s servant lived on, and sneaked away from the battle in a woman’s dress and with a heap of money…as for the Master himself-well, when the dragon was coming down after being shot, it kinda went…splat.

Was Bilbo alright?

Bilbo is fine and waves a not-very-fond farewell to Erebor and goes back to the Shire with Gandalf on ponies. At the edge of the Shire (in the Old Forest most likely) Gandalf warns Bilbo once again about the One Ring, which we then see starting to take its first holds on Bilbo’s mind as he waves everyone away from his house, after he is declared dead (well I would declare him dead too honestly speaking) and his hobbit-hole put up for auction, with hobbits (Sackville-Bagginses in particular, we know all about them) buying off his spoons and chairs and carpets and quite literally everything-as if his house hadn’t been ravaged enough by the dwarves the day before he left! The end shot is quite a lovely one though, showing Bilbo holding the napkin he left behind at the very beginning (well when I say very beginning I mean ‘the proper beginning after forty minutes of dawdling’ beginning).

Did the Smaug/Thorin death go well?

It was very compelling watching Bard pull the black arrow back on his own son and all on top of a burning watchtower with Smaug blathering on once again as all bad guys do to save everyone some time, but not very believable. Neither was the drawing-on-your-son part (his bow broke, for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about). Still-Smaugs eyes’ going dead and dark was a little freaky, and Lake-town was obviously very much screwed. (The Master even more so-ouch.)

With Thorin, the death scene was a little weird. Firstly, once again, no Dwalin to help. Legolas seems to just disappear after killing Bolg-yes, he wants to find Tauriel his love but there was a substantial difference in time between him killing Bolg and him finding Tauriel weeping over Kili’s body. Peter Jackson makes even the most serious scenes a joke, with Thorin supposedly killing Azog at first by pushing his hefty chunk of stone similar to the Witch King of Angmar’s large black spiked mace in The Return of the King back into Azog’s face as they battle it out on a chunk of floating ice, pushing all the weight onto Azog’s side and throwing him under. But then somehow he manages to hold his breath, playing dead and fooling Thorin long enough to jump out of the water and hold sword against sword, pushing closer down to Thorin’s heart. Thorin, realising he has to die, let’s the sword go in but stabs Azog in his weakness too. Then he kind of just stands around for a bit, eagles flying above and not noticing the dying dwarf just falling limp onto the floor, no, not even when the battle is won. That is a point-they never actually show us the second half of the battle-we just seem to ‘win’ it without any substantial effort. Sure, Azog died, but his armies didn’t seem to care too much, they just walked on and died anyways. Another left out part amongst many.

Any last words?

It was a very good ending to an amazing franchise-we can only hope and pray that someone will pick up The Silmarillion, or maybe even The Children of Hurin or the Unfinished Tales. One last negative I have though for the last film is the fact that in every aspect of seriousness there is a hint of joke in it. The cousins meeting up on the battlefield and having a laugh as they knock orcs with their iron hard heads, or just the fact that it’s Billy Connolly riding on a boar and styling a beard. And being a dwarf. Nevertheless, it seems that just as you’re getting hooked in, waiting in tense anticipation for what happens next and praying against the worst out of the blue comes a random joke which throws you completely out of your concentration zone. Yes, it’s good to have a laugh-JUST NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BATTLE!

Ahem.

News and Announcements

Sorry if that was too long for your taste-I just felt like there were many points on The Hobbit I had to talk about. Also I wanted to release this today as I’m leaving tomorrow (if you see the post on the last two days on Independence of the Seas from this morning) and wanted to just get it out of the way first. You know, because it’s new…and all…

 

NB Shouldn’t really be putting this out there, but…you’ve heard of Goodgame Empire, right? Yes, that pay-to-win game on the computer. Well, I play it. I don’t know if I’m addicted or just scared to be kicked out of my faction or be attacked by some annoying kid and lose everything (that would be the fourth time then, no biggy), but I’m just doing a shoutout for my faction, NobleKnights-we’re on the UK 1 server, just search us up and join! Who I am should be pretty easy to see-Lady Snowhawk, the deputy. I should probably end now, but just check it out, will you?

Wish me fun in Athens! (Have not packed my bags yet at all O_o)

~Written by MoonlightWalnut, aka Elayne Snowhawk, wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy 2015 J

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