Movie Review — The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

BreakingModernPeter Jackson and his creative crew have done a stellar job of bringing the complicated and intricate fantasy world of Middle-Earth to the movie screen. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies is the last of a three-part series telling the story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventurous journey to the Lonely Mountain with a rogue band of Dwarves lead by Thorin Oakenshield. And while the Five Armies does not rise to Academy Award status, it does do a fine job of closing one chapter in the story of Middle-Earth in the Third Age.


I am Fire — I am Death

Arguably one of the evilest and, at the same time, most-loved characters ever created in fantasy fiction is Smaug the Terrible, a dragon with an obsession for destruction and gold. Smaug starts The Battle of the Five Armies off with a murderous rampage on Lake-Town. Breathing fire down one row of wooden homes and then another, Smaug is determined to wipe Lake-Town and as many of its residents as he can from existence.

This is a thrilling sequence where the viewers can easily see which characters will be the heroes willing to confront evil head on and which will be the sniveling backstabbing connivers. This dichotomy is an important theme throughout the rest of the story, as it’s sometimes difficult to figure out what is motivating each character.

That is probably one of the more-subtle differences between The Hobbit story and the story told in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In The Lord of the Rings, the evil characters were obvious. In The Hobbit, the evil is more cautious, more hidden and more cunning. This difference complicates the story and muddies the viewer’s rooting interest until the true nature of each character is revealed.

Bilbo and the Arkenstone of Thrain

However, the one character that keeps his focus on doing the right thing throughout The Hobbit story is, of course, Bilbo Baggins. His part of the quest is to find the secret entrance into The Lonely Mountain and retrieve the Arkenstone of Thrain, literally from under Smaug’s nose. But once Bilbo finds it, he’s confronted with a moral dilemma that forms the thematic conflict of his story.

Should Bilbo give his friend what he wants, knowing it could possibly destroy him, or should Bilbo betray his friend’s trust and possibly save him from his own folly.

The Hobbit


Five Armies

As one can imagine, word that someone has been able to breach The Lonely Mountain and, rightly or wrongly, forced Smaug to leave his vast treasure unguarded, has traveled fast throughout Middle-Earth. This news brings five different armies to the base of the mountain. Each army has a different agenda, but the bottom line is that they want what is under the mountain. As you can imagine, things are going to get violent.

The climactic battle scenes are marvelous computer-generated bits of mayhem and melee. Dwarves, Elves, Man, Orc, Goblin, Warg, Eagles and Bats fill the screen in the glorious chaos of battle. It is truly a cinematic sight to see. From a technological standpoint, these movies could not have been made to the visually stunning degree they are without the help of CGI.

The Hobbit

Ending and Beginning

I truly enjoyed the six movies Peter Jackson and his crew created from the stories created by J.J.R. Tolkien. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies is no exception. This last installment is full of action and heroic sacrifice in the grand tradition of the fantasy epic. You should not miss it.

If I have one negative criticism it would be the lack of the intimate character interaction found in the other movies in the series. This is the “plodding” part so many critics like to whine about. For me, the interaction of characters is what makes the story interesting. Without the “plodding” parts, the action parts don’t have the same punch. So, I would have welcomed some more narrative and character development.

But that does not diminish the overall accomplishment of this movie. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a fine way to end the epic and inspiring story of a brave little hobbit named Bilbo.

For BMod, I’m

All screenshots: Mark Kaelin courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture - © 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

Mark Kaelin

Author: Mark Kaelin

Based in Louisville, KY., Mark W. Kaelin is a tech and gadget writer who also covers fine living for us here at BreakingModern.

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