‘THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES’
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The Adventure Ends
This is where it all comes to an end in ‘The Hobbit’ movie trilogy!
‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ is the third and final instalment in this exciting movie trilogy set in Middle-Earth. After seeing ‘An Unexpected Journey’ and ‘The Desolation of Smaug’ at the cinemas, I was looking forward to seeing how ‘The Hobbit’ would end and what would happen to Bilbo Baggins.
I saw this film twice at the cinema, as I did with the first two ‘Hobbit’ movies. The first time was with my best mate Stephen from school before Christmas 2014. The second was with my parents on New Year’s Eve 2014. It was a thrill to see this film at the cinema as I’ve enjoyed ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy a lot.
This is the story so far. Bilbo Baggins joined the Company of Thorin with Gandalf to reclaim the dwarf kingdom of Erebor from Smaug the Dragon. Facing many dangers, they soon arrived at Erebor to confront the dragon. The mission turned sour when Smaug flew out of Erebor to attack Lake-Town…
The title of this movie refers to the battle fought at the gates of Erebor, the Dwarf kingdom and near the Lonely Mountain. The five armies featured in the movie consist of the dwarves; the elves and the men of Lake-Town fighting two orc armies that’d attacked from the Misty Mountains and Gundabad.
‘The Battle of Five Armies’ was originally released on DVD and Blu-ray on 1 disc. I wanted to have the five-disc Extended Edition containing new extra footage and 9 hours of special features. I had the Extended Edition DVD of the movie given to me by my best school mate Stephen for Christmas 2015.
Like before with the first two Extended Editions of ‘The Hobbit’ movies, there is sadly no information booklet. There is however an introduction given to this DVD which you can find inside the box set. The Blu-ray versions of the Extended Editions have the same content but presented very differently.
‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ is divided into two parts with Part 1 on Disc 1 and Part 2 on Disc 2. Discs 3; 4 and 5 contain ‘The Appendices’ which are ‘making-of’ documentaries and extra material on the making of the film. There seems a lot of behind-the-scenes material to take in with ‘The Hobbit’.
DISC 1 + DISC 2 – EXTENDED EDITION
The film begins with a follow-up to the cliff-hanger of ‘The Desolation of Smaug’. I couldn’t believe I had to wait a year for the next film at the cinema to see what happened next in ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy.
There’s no prologue scene as the film goes straight into Smaug attacking Lake-Town. It was terrifying to see Smaug attack Lake-Town with fire, showing no mercy as the people are fleeing for their lives.
But hope is not lost, as Luke Evans as Bard comes to save the day with his son Bain. They both use the Black Arrow to slay Smaug (performed by Benedict Cumberbatch). It works, as Smaug gets killed.
The survivors of Lake-Town led by Bard make for the Lonely Mountain to seek and find refuge in the ruins of Dale. Meanwhile the dwarves Fili, Kili, Oin and Bofur make for Erebor to re-join their friends.
They soon arrive at Erebor, where the ancient dwarf kingdom now belongs to Thorin and the dwarves. The kingdom of Erebor is so majestic and impressive as it should be even in its ruined state.
But something has gone badly wrong. Richard Armitage as Thorin has been quickly overcome by the corrupting power of gold. Thorin becomes sick with wealth since he is in love the treasure in Erebor.
Because of Smaug’s dragon-influence, the gold is beyond measure, beyond sorrow and beyond grief. It changes Thorin’s personality, as he becomes selfish, cruel and dishonourable even among his kind.
This worries his friends like Ken Stott as Balin and Martin Freeman as Bilbo who see the change in Thorin. The dwarves are cruelly made to find the Arkenstone, the king’s jewel amongst the treasure.
Bilbo however has the Arkenstone in his possession which he keeps hidden from Thorin. He’s uncertain whether to give it back to Thorin, as it could make his sickness for gold and power go bad.
Meanwhile with Ian McKellen as Gandalf, he is a prisoner in Dol Guldur. He is soon rescued by Cate Blanchett as Galadriel before the evil nine called the Nazgûl come to attack with their rings of power.
The mysterious Necromancer in ‘The Hobbit’ has been revealed as Sauron, the Dark Lord of Mordor. Sauron forged the One Ring to control the rings of power, including for the elves; dwarves and men.
Galadriel and Gandalf are rescued by Huge Weaving as Elrond, Christopher Lee as Saruman and Sylvester McCoy as Radagast. Gandalf soon heads for Erebor to warn everyone about the orc armies.
Back at Erebor, Thorin and his Company block up the gates to the dwarf kingdom. Bard comes to ask Thorin to honour his word and help the people of Lake-Town by sharing the treasure. Thorin refuses.
When this happens, Bard and the Lake-Town’s men form an alliance with the Mirkwood elves led by Lee Pace as King Thranduil. They demand Thorin make peace with them or else war will be declared.
But Thorin has already prepared, as he calls for the aid of the dwarf armies led by his cousin, Billy Connolly as Dain Ironfoot. Dain leads the dwarves as they fight the elves outside the gates of Erebor.
The battle scenes with the dwarves and elves are brand-new in the Extended Edition of the film. This is before the orc armies led by Azog the Defiler come to attack and fight the dwarves; elves and men.
Help is needed for the forces of good against the forces of evil. But Thorin refuses to help even his own kin, as he stays inside Erebor and falls out with Graham McTavish as Dwalin, which ends Disc 1.
Disc 2 begins with Thorin slowly realising the sickness he has over his obsession with gold. He comes out of it as Thorin and his company of dwarves go out and join fighting in the battle against the orcs.
The battle scenes have our heroes do some heroic things. This is especially true of Thorin and the dwarves who charge out of Erebor and fight the orcs as well as Bard leading the men of Dale to fight.
Bilbo Baggins also gets to be a hero and take courage during the battle. As well as using his sword Sting, Bilbo uses the gold ring he’d found to help him pass the orcs and warn Thorin of some danger.
The elves join in the fight led by Thranduil. There’s also Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel and Orlando Bloom as Legolas. They discover the secret orc army attacking from Gundabad and turn up to warn Gandalf.
Thranduil gets to demonstrate his fearsome fighting during the battle, but he’s clearly selfish and refuses to help the dwarves. There is this tense moment when Tauriel refuses to let Thranduil leave.
There are also some very intense fight scenes when Tauriel tries to rescue Aidan Turner as Kili with his brother Dean O’Groman as Fili. The dwarves fall into a trap when trying to stop orcs at Ravenhill.
Legolas gets to have his moments of actions in this movie, especially when he’s fighting Bolg the orc commander at Ravenhill. The fight between Legolas and Bolg is very long-winded but intense to see.
Thorin chooses to go to Ravenhill to stop the orcs led by Azog the Defiler. Thorin is the King under the Mountain by this point and is willing to sacrifice his own life to save his people and his kingdom.
The battle scenes in Dale are intense as well as the battle on the Lonely Mountain. Most of the men of Dale are shirkers, ingrates and rabble rousers, but they bravely follow Bard and fight for freedom.
Soon the eagles come to help in the battle. Radagast the Brown comes as well with Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn who fights the orcs in battle, as he transforms into the ferocious bear he can be.
As well as orcs fighting in the battle, there are also trolls; wargs and bats and their deadly war machines. The orcs are led by Azog the Defiler and his ‘son’ Bolg. Both are very merciless and brutal.
The story ends on a sad note, as Thorin fights Azog to the bitter end on Ravenhill. Both Thorin and Azog kill each other in combat and there’s an emotional farewell between Thorin and Bilbo Baggins.
Fili and Kili also get killed when they fell into the trap by the orcs at Ravenhill. Kili saves Tauriel’s life but gets killed by Bolg. This upsets Tauriel terribly, as she clearly loved Kili in the time she knew him.
But the battle is won, as the dwarves achieve their quest. Erebor belongs to them and the orcs are defeated. This is where Bilbo says goodbye to the rest of the Company of Thorin as he returns home.
Legolas bids farewell to his father Thranduil, as he can no longer return to Mirkwood. Thranduil advises Legolas to go and befriend a Dunedain ranger of the north named ‘Strider’. Who is he then?!
Leaving Erebor and Dale behind with their dreams of hope, Bilbo bids farewell to Gandalf before he returns to the Shire. Gandalf seems to know about the gold ring Bilbo’s found, which surprises Bilbo.
Bilbo is soon safely home back in Bag-End in Hobbiton in the Shire. And with his new gold ring. I do like how this movie ends with Ian Holm as Bilbo and it provides a lead into ‘The Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy.
The DVD special features of ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ are as follows. On Discs 1 and 2, there’s ‘the fillmmakers’ commentary’. On Disc 1, there’s the ‘New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth – Part 3’ featurette as well as three trailers. The featurette is a great insight into the locations of ‘The Hobbit’.
DISCS 3 + 4 – THE APPENDICES PART 11 – THE GATHERING STORM: The Chronicles of the Hobbit – Part 3
The third; fourth and fifth discs of this five-disc DVD set are ‘The Appendices’ which covers the making of ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ from book to screen including plenty of documentaries.
The first disc and the first-half of the second disc (Discs 3 & 4) of these ‘Appendices’ cover the filming of the movie.
On Disc 3, there isn’t an introduction by Peter Jackson as that was given on ‘An Unexpected Journey’. There is a ‘PLAY ALL’ option that allows you to watch all of the documentaries on this disc.
‘The Chronicles of the Hobbit – Part 2’ include an Opening; ‘In the Dungeons of the Necromancer – Dol Guldur’; ‘Fire and Water – Attack on Lake-Town’; ‘Under The Shadow of the Mountain – Rock & Pillar Range’; ‘In the Wake of the Dragon – Lake Pukaki’; ‘The Gathering of the Clouds – Erebor’ and ‘Many Partings – End of Principal Photography’.
There are also a bonus features section that includes the ‘Butt-Numb-A-Thon’ 2012 Greeting; the ‘Rivers of Gold’ music video and ‘The Real Adam Brown’.
On Disc 4, there is a ‘PLAY ALL’ option that allows you to watch all the documentaries on this disc.
‘The Chronicles of the Hobbit – Part 2’ continue with ‘The Clouds Burst – Dale’; ‘A Last Desperate Stand – Ravenhill’; ‘Out From The Gate – Erebor Pick-Ups’; ‘The Last Stage – 23 July 2013’ and Credits.
DISCS 4 + 5 – THE APPENDICES PART 12 –HERE AT JOURNEY’S END
The second-half of the second disc and the third disc (Discs 4 & 5) of these Appendices focus on the characters in ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’.
On Disc 4, there is one section called ‘Beneath the Thunder: Forging a Battle of Five Armies’. This has three documentaries including ‘A Master Plan, Long in the Making’; ‘On the Front Lines of a Virtual Battlefield’ and ‘Turning the Tide’.
On Disc 5, there is a ‘PLAY ALL’ option that allows you to watch all the documentaries on this disc.
There are three sections which are ‘The People and Denizens of Middle-Earth’; ‘Realms of the Third Age: From the City of Dale to the Halls of Erebor’ and ‘Farewell Friends’.
‘The People and Denizens of Middle-Earth’ section has three documentaries. They are ‘Tauriel: Daughter of the Forest’; ‘Thranduil: The King of Wood and Stone’ and ‘Dain Ironfoot: Lord of the Iron Hills’.
The ‘Realms of the Third Age: From the City of Dale to the Halls of Erebor’ section also has three documentaries. They are ‘Dale: The City of Men’; ‘Dol Guldur: The Hill of Sorcery’ and ‘Erebor: The Lonely Mountain’.
‘Farewell Friends’ is actually a documentary that closes off ‘The Appendices’ of ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy.
There’s also a five-minute tribute called ‘Andrew Lesnie Remembered’. Andrew Lesnie was the cinematographer of ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films and has now sadly passed away. The fifth disc ends with Credits.
The original 1-disc DVD of ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ doesn’t have any special features which is annoying for those who want the original theatrical version of the movie. The Blu-ray version of the original theatrical version has special features which is annoying for those who don’t have Blu-ray.
The Blu-ray of the original version of ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ has promotional special features including featurettes and trailers. These include the ‘New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth – Part 3’ featurette that is also be found on Disc 1 of this Extended Edition of ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’.
There’s also ‘Recruting the Five Armies’; ‘A Six-Part Saga’; ‘A Seventeen Year Journey’; a behind-the-scenes featurette on ‘The Last Goodbye’; a music video of ‘The Last Goodbye’; trailers and a trailer for the Extended Edition of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’, which is pretty unusual indeed.
‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ has been a thrilling and enjoyable conclusion to ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy. ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy isn’t as good as ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films, but I’ve greatly enjoyed returning to Middle-Earth by seeing these movies at the cinema and Martin Freeman is fantastic as Bilbo Baggins.
Of course this is only the end of the beginning, as Bilbo Baggins now has this powerful gold ring in his possession. What could this mean for the future of Middle-Earth? Could this be for good or for bad? Will Bilbo Baggins’ ring cause trouble for the whole of Middle-Earth? Will anybody stop its influence?
‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ rating – 8/10
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