The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Review

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies movie posterSynopsis
After dealing with the dragon, Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch (voice)), who had been living in the dwarf home of Erebor, Thorin (Richard Armitage), and his soldiers must now protect it from those who wish to take the vast treasure for themselves.

Review
I think it is interesting how much The Hobbit films have mirrored the Lord of the Rings films.  Each movie did a great job of building the characters and tension from the last. The second entry of the two series leaves each Baggins and their respective groups in interesting places for the third one to pick up.  Then the third film offers the biggest and best action sequences of the trilogies.

The Battle of the Five Armies picks up exactly where The Desolation of Smaug leaves off, with Smaug heading off the destroy Laketown.  I’ve compared The Hobbit series to the Star Wars prequel trilogy before and I’m about to do it again.  Slight spoiler warning.  Smaug’s treatment in this film was like Count Dooku’s in The Revenge of the Sith.  They were both the big bad from the second film in their respective series, and then they don’t last past the first scene of the third film of their series. It’s slightly disappointing because he was the best part from the previous movie.  For Smaug to appear for such a short amount of time made him feel out of place. I almost wish they would have finished his portion of the story in his film.  I know that The Desolation of Smaug was already long enough but with the power of editing it could have worked.

Like many modern blockbusters with heavy action sequences, this movie piles on the CGI.  When dealing with something like five large armies, it is to be expected, but some things that could have been done practically (and would have looked better if done so) weren’t.  For example, the leader of the large dwarf army, Dain, is completely animated and it is very easy to tell.  There are several close up shots of him that would have looked several times better if Billy Connolly had been in a costume.

One scene I found particularly interesting was not even one of the many action scenes.  After Smaug is defeated and Thorin is consumed by the large treasure, he walks into a great hall where a vision-like sequence begins.  My friend was telling me that this scene seemed to divide fans but I thought it fascinating.  The symbolism of him being consumed by the gold and him falling victim to the same greed that befell his grandfather, something Thorin swore to never do, was apparent without saying a single word.

Just like The Return of the King, the action sequences are on a much larger scale than the previous two movies.  There is also little time for the characters, or the audience, to catch their breath.  After the short Smaug sequence, there is a little breather where we see Thorin and how he and his relationship with his friends have changed since they started on their journey.  But before two long, the titular battle starts and it consumes the rest of the film.  The sheer scale of the battle is impressive, and very action packed.

I thought The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was GOOD :-).  Like The Return of the King, it gave the trilogy some of its biggest and best action scenes.  Although I think Smaug should have been confined to one movie rather than feeling stuck into this one and the CGI was overused.  But all in all, it gave a very epic and exciting conclusion to the series.

Also check out my reviews for the rest of The Hobbit trilogy: An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Peter Jackson – Director / Screenplay
Fran Walsh – Screenplay
Philippa Boyens – Screenplay
Guillermo del Toro – Screenplay
Howard Shore – Composer

Martin Freeman – Bilbo
Ian McKellen – Gandalf
Richard Armitage – Thorin
Ken Stott – Balin
Graham McTavish – Dwalin
William Kircher – Bifur
James Nesbitt – Bofur
Stephen Hunter – Bombur
Dean O’Gorman – Fili
Aidan Turner – Kili
John Callen – Oin
Peter Hambleton – Gloin
Jed Brophy – Nori
Mark Madlow – Dori
Adam Brown – Ori
Orlando Bloom – Legolas
Evangeline Lilly – Tauriel
Lee Pace – Thranduil
Cate Blanchett – Galandriel
Hugo Weaving – Elrond
Christopher Lee – Saruman
Ian Holm – Old Bilbo
Mikael Persbrandt – Beorn
Sylvester McCoy – Radagast
Luke Evans – Bard
Stephen Fry – Master of Laketown
Ryan Gage – Alfrid
Manu Bennett – Azog
Lawrence Makoare – Bolg
Billy Connolly – Dain
Benedict Cumberbatch – Smaug (voice) / Necromancer (voice)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug movie posterSynopsis
Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellen),  Thorin (Richard Armitage), and the rest of the dwarfs, continue their journey to Erebor, the dwarf homeland. Bilbo and the dwarfs come face to face with its protector, the dreaded dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch (voice)).  Meanwhile, Gandalf looks for the source of a mysterious, rising evil.

Review
In The Lord of the Rings series, The Two Towers is where the series really began to take off so I was interested to see if The Desolation of Smaug had the same affect for the Hobbit films.  I’d say it did a pretty good job.  Again, with all the set up out of the way in the first film, this one is able to keep up the pace. Outside of the elves, not many new characters are introduced.  One of the hurdles The Two Towers faced was introducing so many new characters throughout the movie. Since The Desolation of Smaug had very few characters they had to bring into the mix, it was able to keep the focus on Bilbo, Thorin and the rest of the dwarfs, as well as keep it moving.

Since the dwarfs were introduced last movie, this movie was spent building their relationship.  Their camaraderie was really fun to watch. The way they joke together, fight together, it was easy to tell that they are a family.  Since there are a lot of them, they don’t all get a ton of development, but they get enough that you can feel out the rest.

One thing this franchise hasn’t lacked is action.  And Desolation of Smaug is no exception.  This movie offered some of the most unique of the series so far.  One of my favorite scenes was the river fight sequence.  The dwarfs escape their capture buy going down a river in barrels.  As they go down the river, they are chased by both orcs and elves.  The way that the three parties were fighting is unlike anything I can think of in another film.  I had a smile on my face the entire scene.

Smaug was hands down the best part of this film.  Everything from the animation of his sheer size to Benedict Cumberbatch voicing him was just spectacular.  I’m not overly familiar with Cumberbatch’s work, so I wasn’t sure what to expect out of him as Smaug.  He nailed it.  I want to see him voice villains more often.  The character himself was pretty interesting, too. He knew his strength so he wasn’t afraid to toy with Bilbo.  He took up a good portion of the film so it was a good thing he was done so well.

I thought The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was GOOD :-).  Like any good sequel, it ups the stakes and keeps moving.  The action is some of the most unique of the series and Smaug offers a significant threat to the characters.

Also check out my reviews for the rest of The Hobbit trilogy: An Unexpected Journey and The Battle of the Five Armies.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Peter Jackson – Director / Screenplay
Fran Walsh – Screenplay
Philippa Boyens – Screenplay
Guillermo del Toro – Screenplay
Howard Shore – Composer

Martin Freeman – Bilbo
Ian McKellen – Gandalf
Richard Armitage – Thorin
Ken Stott – Balin
Graham McTavish – Dwalin
William Kircher – Bifur
James Nesbitt – Bofur
Stephen Hunter – Bombur
Dean O’Gorman – Fili
Aidan Turner – Kili
John Callen – Oin
Peter Hambleton – Gloin
Jed Brophy – Nori
Mark Madlow – Dori
Adam Brown – Ori
Orlando Bloom – Legolas
Evangeline Lilly – Tauriel
Lee Pace Thranduil
Cate Blanchett – Galandriel
Benedict Cumberbatch – Smaug (voice) / Necromancer (voice)
Mikael Persbrandt – Beorn
Sylvester McCoy – Radagast
Luke Evans – Bard
Stephen Fry – Master of Laketown
Ryan Gage – Alfrid
Manu Bennett – Azog
Lawrence Makoare – Bolg

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Review

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey movie posterSynopsis
When the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) shows up unexpectedly at the door of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Bilbo’s life is changed forever. Bilbo sets out on a journey with Thorin (Richard Armitage) and the rest of his dwarf crew to retake the dwarf homeland.

Review
The Hobbit films are to The Lord of the Rings as the Star Wars prequel trilogy is to the original trilogy so naturally I immediately began The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey after finishing The Return of the King.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, whether it was going to be exactly like the last trilogy but with different characters or a similar story but different. Thankfully, it was the latter.

Right off the bat, I was happy that this is a very dwarf-centered story.  Other than Gimli in the previous films, there weren’t any other dwarfs.  With such a large group, there was a wide range of personalities among them. There was the quiet leader, the old councils, the experienced warriors, and the younger fighters.  Watching the early scene with them all at the table in Bilbo’s house really gives you a feel for who each of them are.

In The Fellowship of the Ring, there was a lot of set up before the group set out on their journey.  After the aforementioned scene at Bilbo’s house, which was relatively early in the film, the group’s purpose was given and they were off on their journey.  This made the movie move quicker and didn’t feel like the beginning was dragging like in Fellowship.

One thing The Lord of the Rings series have done consistently well is casting.  Martin Freeman did a great job as the young Bilbo Baggins.  I really liked him in the first season of Fargo and the little mannerisms he brought to his character.  He does the same thing here, bringing that extra nuances to Bilbo that not many actors can do.

Earlier, I compared the Hobbit series to the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Other than the similarity of taking place before the trilogy that came before, The Hobbit also uses much more CGI that The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Many of the characters, especially the orcs, are CGI this time.  I liked the makeup and costumes for the orc soldiers particularly in The Return of the King, so to see every single orc animated here was a little bit of a let down.

I thought The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was GOOD :-). Compared to The Fellowship of the Ring, it gets the heroes on their journey much faster and with less set up and exposition.  Other than seeing the orcs go from physical costumes to computer animation, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a good start to the trilogy.

Also check out my reviews for the rest of The Hobbit trilogy: The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Peter Jackson – Director / Screenplay
Fran Walsh – Screenplay
Philippa Boyens – Screenplay
Guillermo del Tory – Screenplay
Howard Shore – Composer

Martin Freeman – Bilbo
Ian McKellen – Gandalf
Richard Armitage – Thorin
Ken Stott – Balin
Graham McTavish – Dwalin
William Kircher – Bifur /  Tom Troll
James Nesbitt – Bofur
Stephen Hunter – Bombur
Dean O’Gorman – Fili
Aidan Turner – Kili
John Callen – Oin
Peter Hambleton – Gloin / William Troll
Jed Brophy – Nori
Mark Madlow – Dori / Bert Troll
Adam Brown – Ori
Hugo Weaving – Elrond
Cate Blanchett – Galandriel
Lee Pace – Thranduil
Christopher Lee – Saruman
Andy Serkis – Gollum
Sylvester McCoy – Radagast
Barry Humphries – Great Goblin
Manu Bennett – Azog
Benedict Cumberbatch – Necromancer