The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
December 16, 2014 7:23 PM - Subscribe

Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the terrifying Smaug from acquiring a kingdom of treasure and obliterating all of Middle-Earth.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (32 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do the giant land sled pulling war rabbits come back for at least a cameo?
posted by sammyo at 7:35 PM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yes, it did! Beorn too, though too short. But spectacular!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:37 PM on December 16, 2014

Crime #1: it's The Battle of Five Armies. No "the."
posted by Chrysostom at 7:41 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Crime #1: it's The Battle of Five Armies. No "the."

Talk to to the Matt about the Fanfare coding. It insisted that I choose a title from IMDB and that's what it gave me.

Overall, the movie was good fun, though according to the purists grumbling behind me, it wasn't faithful adaptation, but we already knew that.

Richard Armitage puts in a good performance as Thorin descends into madness. Martin Freeman continues to shine as Bilbo, anchoring the film with an emotional heart and gravity amidst all the battles. And how are the battles? Goddamn awesome of course, but that's no surprise.

There's a few odd beats with comedic elements during several of the battles which feel distracting. The end doesn't give any idea of what happened to Tauriel, which is another strange beat. Perhaps more films are planned? Who knows, but overall, the film is great fun and fitting into to Jackson's Hobbit trilogy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:52 PM on December 16, 2014

(title on IMDB has a The in it)
posted by mathowie at 7:54 PM on December 16, 2014

I'm sorry, my snark wasn't clear: the title of the movie has a The in it. The text in the book does not.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:00 PM on December 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was happy with the movie because GANDALF+GALADRIEL SWOON but so much of the actual combat felt routine and boring and floaty. The number of times that someone swung at an orc, their weapon bounced off, but the actor fell over anyway just kept ramping up. There were just too many computer-generated orcs constantly rolling onstage for any plausible tension to build up - and a bunch of scenes of lakemen jostling around with orcs in the background looking like they were all trying to get a drink from the same bar.

Oddly Legolas's physics-defiance worked for me here perfectly, though.

The final sequence back in the Shire was great - but where did Bilbo's chest'o'gold and shield come from? Were they supposed to be already on Gandalf's horse or something? Was a pretty jarring cut.
posted by xiw at 2:07 AM on December 17, 2014

What happened to Tauriel?! It's they just said "fuck it, we're done" and dropped the character.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:14 AM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Q. Where does Smaug keep his armies?
A. In his sleevies.
posted by mochapickle at 8:04 AM on December 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

That will be all, Baldric.
posted by Naberius at 9:21 AM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I feel like there is a fairly good consensus that The Lord of the Rings was just about right and that The Hobbit isn't, and I'm fine with that. I would like to see another filmmaker tackle this story, and do it as a children's tale, or as a high fantasy tale for adults and children, or however best describes it.

These are very much prequels to The Lord of the Rings, and Jackson did something that Tolkein attempted but then decided shouldn't be done: He turned The Hobbit into a Lord of the Rings-style story, instead of letting it have its own distinctive personality. I want to see the Hobbit that feels like Tolkein's Hobbit. Whatever director manages it can probably also manage the Father Chistmas Letters, which I would kill to see onscreen.

That being said, there is a lot I like about these films. I liked Radgast and his bunny sled. I liked the dwarf racist party dad. I like Billy Connelly riding a boar -- actually, I guess I mostly like characters riding cute animals. There's even some mountain goats with saddles in this film.

Martin Freeman is badly underused in this film, which is a shame, both because he is quite funny at times and because this is the part of the story when Bilbo goes from timid country gentleman to group leader, and, for me, that's the real story of the Hobbit. I think we spend more time with Alfrid the slithering toady and his Titanic-style cross-dressing than Bilbo, and the film is called The Hobbit, not the toady.
posted by maxsparber at 10:36 AM on December 17, 2014 [8 favorites]

Beorn too, though too short. But spectacular!

Well, yes. I saw it with a much more casual fan, who was vaguely mystified as to why a guy fell of a bird and turned into a grizzly bear. I say "vaguely" because that was not in the top five baffling moments for her. While I appreciate Jackson giving his audiences some credit, showing us a 1.5-second glimpse of a guy who was in one scene of a movie released a year ago and expecting audiences to connect the dots might be a little too generous.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:01 PM on December 17, 2014

What about Tauriel, String? WHAT ABOUT TAURIEL?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:39 PM on December 17, 2014 [7 favorites]

I saw it last night, and I didn't think it was that good. The fight scenes were fairly impressive, but often felt long and a bit repetitive, and there wasn't much focus on the interesting characters with a chance of developing (Bilbo, Bard, maybe Gandalf).

I think the main problems with it were always going to happen with a three part version of the Hobbit that comes after LotR. One of the problems is pacing, it felt like things were dragged out a bit, and the fight at the end of it wasn't meant to be as epic as Helms Deep or Minas Tirith, but the film was forced into trying to make it comparable, with mixed results. Another issue I had with it was the lack of a central thread tying it together. The book's a bildungsroman focussing on Bilbo, and you can follow the story from his perspective. This had so many different elements (and I've not seen the other films for a while) so I found it hard to keep track of it all. At the end I was a bit confused by how I was meant to feel: the dwarves were back in the mountain, but Thorin was dead, Laketown was destroyed, but they'd killed the dragon and got rid of their rulers, Bilbo got to go back to the shire, but he'd enjoyed the journey, not to mention the Legolas/Tauriel/Kili/Elf king thing going on. So yeah, it had a some fun fights in it, and I enjoyed Billy Connelly turning up, but on the whole it was pretty mediocre.
posted by Ned G at 4:57 AM on December 18, 2014

There was a lot more Beorn in the extended edition of Desolation of Smaug, so Jackson might not have felt as much need to explain him.
posted by transient at 4:48 PM on December 18, 2014


Tauriel is gonna travel to Mandos/Aule and petition for her boyfriend to be released from the land of the dead and she's going to succeed. Why? Because PJ has obviously been aching to make a Beren and Luthien movie since all that non-canon Aragorn/Arwen material in the original trilogy but for whatever reason the Tolkien estate won't let him do it and so he made this beautiful and perfect Sindar lady/scruffy mortal banished prince dude doomed romance and added it to his Hobbit movies. They're going to meet each other again. Shut up. I don't care. No Andreth/Aegnor bullshit for my bbs Kili and Tauriel. It's going to happen.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 2:03 AM on December 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

for whatever reason the Tolkien estate won't let him do it

Because Christopher Tolkien hates the movies, hates the idea of *any* movies, and the movie would not have happened if JRRT had not sold the movie rights to The Hobbit and LOTR long ago. He didn't sell rights to The Silmarillion - not having finished it at his death, of course - so nobody's going to get them, at least in this generation of heirs.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:43 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm absurdly grateful that Tauriel didn't get fridged. It looked so much like the most probable outcome for an OC character that a main character had a crush on.

On the other hand, resolving a big battle by a few one-on-one fights between the army leaders in the middle of nowhere might be easier on the CGI server farm but it was more than absurd.
posted by sukeban at 2:31 AM on December 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

I agree—Tauriel is the way for New Line/MGM to make more Middle Earth Universe movies that aren't in the Tolkien canon but will be far more well-known and profitable.

Seriously, every studio wants a franchise universe for movie/TV, and right now Disney has two (they'd have three if Pirates worked without Depp and if shooting on ships worked for TV). Every studio is looking at their options and properties and strip-mining them for extended universe stuff. Hell, even the no-budget filmmaker I had breakfast with today has a series of YouTube shorts in the works to build interest in his expanded universe for Kickstarter.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:44 PM on December 21, 2014

I'm having problems adding up the armies here. Dwarves, Men, Elves, Orcs, and.... More Orcs? The Orcs were all commanded from a single point, so it feels like they were a single army. Do the 200 or so refugees of Laketown armed with dusty armor and a surprising number of farming implements for a fishing/trading water-bound village count as an army? If so, why not the Goblin Mercenaries? Was it the Eagles? Were they the 5th?

What is the state of scouting in this world where Elves totally miss a slow moving Dwarven force stomping up in heavy armor? Did Games Workshop hold Peter Jackson's dog hostage or something?

It felt like there were too many stand-ins in this movie. There was Orc With Metal Ribs who stood in for Orc With Metal Arm who stood in for Any Badguy. There was Arkenstone standing in for the One Ring but also those Elvish Gems standing in for them both as Stuff Who Make People Crazy For Reasons.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:23 AM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dwarves, Men, Elves, Orcs, and.... More Orcs?

Never mind that, why did we not get more War Rams and War Pigs?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:25 AM on December 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Five Armies are: Men, Elves, Dwarves versus Wargs, Goblins.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:32 AM on December 22, 2014

I wanted to see people riding were-worms.

Nix that. I wanted to see Paul Muad'Dib riding a were-worm. Make this a proper mash-up.
posted by maxsparber at 8:37 AM on December 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Eagles are the Deus Ex Machina of the middle earth movie realm.
posted by dry white toast at 9:03 PM on December 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was kind of traumatized by the poor trolls(?) who seemed to have been horribly tortured by the orcs. Did you guys see the one whose arms and legs had been cut off, and whose eyes were sewed shut and then Legolas rode it by pulling his eye-reins so that he crashed into a wall and killed himself?!?

WTF was that about?

Other than that I really loved this movie but damn
posted by Tarumba at 10:50 AM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Alfrid Lickspittle is easily the most pointless and annoying character since Jar Jar.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 12:18 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I liked the gag near the end where Gandalf spends five minutes trying to get his pipe lit while Bilbo just gives him a Martin Freeman Blank Stare.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 12:14 PM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Just saw it and thought it was the best of the three and I did enjoy it for what it was but I'm just glad it's over. I really would have liked to see what a different director could have done with the material; Jackson has a limited bag of tricks and just keeps going back to the same stuff. I didn't really see a single scene in here that really surprised me in the way that so many scenes in the LoTR movies did. I think he's just run out of inspiration and is deep into self plagiarism by now.

I thought that quite a few of the special effects looked terrible too. Lake Town looked worse than you're average 60's Japanese monster movie Tokyo and a lot of the digital stunt people looked really rubbery.
posted by octothorpe at 8:30 PM on January 4, 2015

Adam Roberts review.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:55 AM on January 7, 2015

Eagles are the Deus Ex Machina of the middle earth movie realm.

And the 5th army.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:58 PM on January 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Finally went to see this last night.

Pedantic nitpickerry:

-Shouldn't Sting have been glowing during the Battle, considering all those orcs around?
-While the book revolves around the fact that Bilbo claims the Arkenstone as his share of the hoard, in the first movie the contract specifically forbid him from claiming it; yet that point seems brushed aside in this film.

General nitpickerry:

-I was actually thinking that this film was doing ok; it seemed to be clicking right along...and then the Battle. Valar preserve us, that was just dragged out way, way too long!
-I'm rather mystified as to why anyone beyond the dwarves would've cared that Thorin died; the folks of Laketown lost everything because of him and wound up in this Battle because of his stubborn refusal to let them in: yes, he has his change of heart, but his actions in the Battle happen a long ways away from pretty much everyone else, and yet he is mourned by everyone when his body is brought down.
-Not enough Hobbit! Needed more Martin Freeman who I thought was pretty much amazing in every scene. The man can convey a lot with his body language alone.
-I get why they felt a need to have Tauriel in the film - as I said to my wife, without her, it's a complete sausage fest (which is a problem in the source material). But having her around, and Lickspittle, and then the whole thing with Legolas and his daddy issues, means I left the theatre feeling like characters who had been in all three movies were less developed than the ones that had been inserted.

I liked the gag near the end where Gandalf spends five minutes trying to get his pipe lit while Bilbo just gives him a Martin Freeman Blank Stare.

My immediate reaction to that shot was to want to get the dialogue from this scene (especially the last 30 seconds or so) and dub it over. I don't know why my brain wants to do that, but I almost started giggling uncontrollably.
posted by nubs at 9:37 AM on January 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

So coming back in after the 4k extended edition release of both the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit and good lord the Lord of the Rings still holds up and is an absolutely beautiful movie 20 years later, the effects were at just the right spot between having good enough CGI to make up some stuff that would've been impossible to do practically, but enough practical effects to make it feel grounded and real.

Then a decade passed. WETA got high on the smell of their own farts and nearly every single shot in the Hobbit is that godawful uncanny CGI valley that doesn't hold up so great. Any two, three given shots, the height of the dwarves in relation to the elves would change depending on the camera angles. Bleh. Fights are too close to the primary actors so we can see who it is and how they're emoting, but can't actually see the fighting any more - which is good because it all feels like it's animated in after the fact anyway. Double bleh. Too much happens that feels completely weightless, because it's easy to make an orc fly like that, you just click here and draw an arc! Triple bleh.

I'm still sort of trying to understand why Gandalf just went "welp, I guess Sarumon is going to give Sauron a stern talking to so we don't have to worry about _that_, where did the ditch weed go?" at the end of the Hobbit. Oh, you lost the magic ring, you say? Oh how terrible, Bilbo. Blaze up, y'all!
posted by Kyol at 7:14 PM on February 8, 2021

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