The concluding part of The Hobbit culminates in action, drama, and a tying-up of events in order to link them to The Lord of the Rings, in what also appears to be Peter Jackson’s final film set in Middle-Earth.
Continuing from The Desolation of Smaug, this film begins with Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and the dwarves lead by increasingly mentally unstable Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) having taken control of the Lonely Mountain and all the treasure that is in it. However, they also woke up the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) in the process who is now destroying nearby Laketown. Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) however successfully escapes from imprisonment and using a metal arrow manages to slay Smaug. This results in him becoming leader of the town.
Gandalf (Ian McKellen) meanwhile is rescued from the clutches of the Necromancer by old allies including Saruman (Christopher Lee), Elrond (Hugo Weaving), Galadriel (Kate Blanchett) and Radagast (Sylvester McCoy). Gandalf tries to make his way back to Bilbo and the others, but war is about to occur.
Thorin becomes increasingly obsessed with regaining the treasured Arkenstone, unaware that Bilbo has already found it and does not want to hand it over less it make him even more insane. Bilbo therefore slips out, meets Gandalf and gives him the Arkenstone as a bargaining tool. Elves from Mirkwood lead by Thranduil (Lee Pace) and the men of Laketown demand that Thorin should give them part of the treasure that they own him and for additional aid. Even with the Arkenstone Thorin refuses. Things finally fall into place when a dwarf army lead by Thorin’s cousin Dain (Billy Connolly) arrive, only for another two armies of orcs also to attack. Thus the Battle of the Five Armies commences…
Much of what can be said about this movie has already been said about the other five Middle-Earth films made by Jackson. The acting is brilliant, what is depicted is thrilling, and the effects are top-notch. One personal highlight is a duel between Thorin and the head of the orc army Azog (Manu Bennett).
There are some questions about the faithfulness of the adaptation, like some characters appearing in events that they do not appear, and some characters that were invented just for the film (see Tauriel played by Evangeline Lilly), but no adaptation is going to please everyone.
The main factor of this film however is that at last both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings now finally been completed. The entire story has been told on screen. In terms of screen adaptations of literature, this is one of the key landmarks. As a Tolkien fan, my reaction is mixed. While it is great to see this remarkable epic tale being told, there is also that acknowledgement that this is the end. It is unlikely that Jackson or anyone else will come and adapt any other titles make by Tolkien such as The Silmarillion, which tells the story Middle-Earth’s creation and early history.
The Battle of the Five Armies is a good film, but overall the feeling you get is sadness at knowing that this is the end.