A Completely Biased Review of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies



I know my schtick is 10 Point Reviews, but guess what? I’m so obsessed with Tolkien that my husband vacillates between surprising me with Lord of the Rings swag and considering an intervention. I sometimes break into Elvish in business meetings, and I recently met the COO of one of our partners wearing a Prancing Pony tee. Also, I’m pretty sure my article on the Eagles of Middle Earth is still #4 on Google.

So I gave this review five extra points, because, love.

My review of An Unexpected Journey.

My review of The Desolation of Smaug.

We went to a show on the 16th (night before official release) and saw it in IMAX 3D HFR.

  1. Ahh, Middle-Earth. Whether you loved this adaptation or not, there is no disputing the beauty of New Zealand, and the magic of this powerful setting. I posted the hashtag #onelastime in complete earnest. I’m genuinely heartbroken this is our last foray into the setting. (For those who keep pointing out there’s plenty of material left… i.e. The Silmilarillion… the Tolkien Estate has stated unequivocally they will never sell those rights. LotR and Hobbit were sold in Tolkien’s lifetime, and that is the only reason they’ve been adapted to screen).
  2. I’ve seen some people question Galadriel’s power (as in, they think Gandalf should be more powerful than she is). Um, no. She is one of the oldest Noldor, born in freaking VALINOR, daughter of Finarfin. She is a third-gen Eldar. It would have been weirder if she hadn’t gone full badass. In fact, I daresay they toned it down.
  3. Speaking of this, I loved watching the White Council demonstrate their powers. The nerd in me also got uber excited that ALL THREE elven rings of power were present, just inches from Sauron. Galadriel was in possession of Nenya, Gandalf had Narya, and Elrond had Vilya. Boom, Sauron.
  4. Although not necessarily true to the book, I very much enjoyed the partnership of Bard and Bain as they took down Smaug. I normally find “plugged in” children as filler, but the addition of his kids here humanized him, and they were each given unique personalities that made them feel integral. I also appreciated Bard’s character development here, as in the book he is simply an instrument of the story. I can now visualize how someone like Bard could have stepped forward as the leader of these people.
  5. Benedict Cumberbatch was probably the best decision they made regarding this trilogy. I never get tired of watching him emote as Smaug. I was oddly sad when he died.
  6. The Woodland Elven Guard was a little too CGI for my taste, but, unlike Helm’s Deep, it was GOOD CGI. On the other hand, I very much enjoyed their battle formations, as well as Thranduil’s later grief over the sustained losses. I’m glad they paid some attention to this, because all I could think of was: these guys were immortal! And they gave that up for this battle. That has to mean something.
  7. I expected to be more torn up about the losses of Thorin, Fili, and Kili. I’ve grown way more attached to them on screen than I ever did in the book, and that’s thanks to PJ’s attention to giving them more dimensional personalities. But I found myself sadder at the idea of it (of the complete destruction of the heirs of Durin), than it actually happening. That said, I might be the one reviewer who had some genuine feels when Tauriel was grieving over Kili’s body. Such a huge departure from canon, but it was tragic nonetheless.
  8. A+ for Richard Armitage here. Give this man all the awards. He gave Thorin a dynamic and dimensional personality that was absent in the book (book Thorin was a cranky asshole who deserved no one’s help, at any point). We get to see Thorin being curmudgeonly, but decent. Focused, but with humanity. And so when he spirals into his dragon sickness, it’s that much more powerful. Equally so, when his inner will breaks through and he shrugs it off. Very well done.
  9. Shame on Peter Jackson for only giving Beorn a 15 second cameo! I assume the rest of his scenes will be in the EE, but come on.
  10. This film was filled with enjoyable “moments.” The familial concern and light touch of Eldrond as Galadriel spent her power; the shared glances between unlikely allies Bard and Thranduil. And I really about lost it for good when Bilbo invited what remained of the dwarven company to 4 PM tea at Bag End.
  11. I have mentioned many times that I am not put off by either Legolas or Tauriel being in this movie. For Legolas, it would have been silly NOT to include him, as he logically would have been in the Woodland realm at the time of this visit, as the son of the king. And Tauriel’s addition didn’t bother me because it’s a reasonable assumption that there would actually be, I don’t know, guards in the Elven Guard. And I really liked the humanistic touches of how Tauriel helped the dwarves and children escape during Smaug’s fiery carnage. Heck, I didn’t even mind the love story between Kili and Tauriel, as it was one of many ways Jackson attempted to give more personality to dwarves that had none in the books. My only complaint is the amount of screen time given. Bolg should not have been taken out by Legolas. Bloom and Lilly should not be top-billed on the posters (same beef I had with Liv Tyler being front and center at the LotR trilogy).
  12. Related: I may just rename this movie to Legolas Riding Things.
  13. Martin Freeman: I take back what I said about Cumberbatch. Freeman was hands down the best thing about this trilogy. He gave Bilbo heart and humility, and a personality that shined far more than any character in any of the Jackson movies. Every moment on the screen was an important one. He has a fan for life.
  14. Thranduil. Unf.
  15. Perfect ending: the fade from a younger (but much-changed) Bilbo, into the Bilbo we remember at the start of The Fellowship of the Ring. Book readers will know Bilbo embarked on many adventures during those years. My one gripe with the ending was that it didn’t neatly resolve what happens with Erebor for non-readers. And what happens in the years between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings to certain members of the company is truly tragic.

Overall Score: A-

I read. I watch original cable shows. I take in a movie from time to time. And most of what I absorb can be described in ten bullet points. Thus, Sarah’s 10 Point Reviews was born. You’ll find no rhyme or reason to what and when I review something. My motivations tend to as random as my reviews. You’re welcome to add your own ten bullets in the comments, if the mood strikes. Enjoy!

12 thoughts on “A Completely Biased Review of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

  1. So biased, but I loved it. You pointed out all of the things I did like about the film. But I wanted MORE! I think the cringe-worthy CGI and stunts hurt the films for me. With LOTR, PJ forced audiences to take fantasy seriously by making it seem real, but in the Hobbit Trilogy he threatened to undo that. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed these films too, but they did not live up to LOTR.

    I’m not sure you pointed this out, but Thranduil was moving. Did not know Lee Pace could act well. And I thought Alfred was a surprising little gem.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Completely agree about Thranduil. I was pleasantly surprised by what Lee Pace brought to this role, and how he captivated every moment he was on the screen.

      I was not a fan of Alfred, but only because of how much screen time he garnered, in comparison with other areas that felt rushed. I suppose the story needed *some* comic relief as this final act was pretty much a depressing bloodbath, but I would have rather spent more time on Beorn or Dain, I think.

      Thanks for the comment!

      1. I agree. I was a little surprised he got so much screen time. Would have liked to have gotten more Bilbo/Thorin. Their friendship had the potential to be Sam/Frodo good, but PJ dropped the ball.

    2. I think PJ had a tough job on his hands: Make the lighter, more fairy tale-like Hobbit look and feel like the darker LOTR without losing the things that made Hobbit unique. Tolkien made a few changes to the Hobbit after LOTR was published, but never overhauled it style wise. I don’t think these films could be the same, or completely different, from the first trilogy. This last film definitely has a dark tone that sets up what comes next and doesn’t quite end with that finality that ROTK had.

      1. He definitely did. He took a very detail-light children’s book and had to turn it into something that was at least somewhat on par with the epic-ness of LotR. I always remind people that the Battle of the Five armies, in the book, was only a few pages long. That’s the difference between writing for children and writing for adults. I think he did a fairly good job expanding on it without completely flying in the face of the story’s intent. Some of the filler felt meh to me, but overall I liked the adaptation.

      2. Agreed, but I think he could have honed in more on the Bilbo/Thorin friendship that was so successful in LOTR with Frodo/Sam. The character relationships were what made LOTR so enduring. Was wishing Hobbit would have captured it at that level.

  2. Yes, I wasn’t so sure about putting Legolas into these films other than for a blatant connection to the others. However, there’s a nice payoff that made it all okay at the end of this film in a scene with the Elvenking.

    1. While I liked the connection this scene gave us to bridging Legolas’ story to The Fellowship, I thought it was a little heavy-handed in delivery. The whole “go find a ranger in the north” seemed very plug and play.

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