Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies (2014)
      Exciting, breathtaking, heartbreaking...just about every emotion you can muster could probably be summed up in the the finale chapter of The Hobbit saga. It was just a really good and enjoyable film to say it simply! This movie could have tricky to do, because anyone who has read the book will know that J.R.R. Tolkien never actually wrote about the battle. He just knocked Bilbo out and then he woke up and the battle was over. So Peter Jackson had quite a bit of creative license to really flesh out the battle of the five armies and really get Bilbo's perspective of the battle as well.

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Bilbo Baggins
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins

     One can practically assume that by this point in the story, Bilbo Baggins has completed his agreed mission as master burglar for Thorin Oakenshield and Company and is now free to go home, but practicality never ran high in Middle Earth. Bilbo instead stays with Thorin and his company to discover the great gold of Erabor, but Bilbo and the others quickly begin to see the Thorin is quickly being overtaken to the same 'dragon sickness' that eventually became his grandfather's downfall.

     During Bilbo's diatribe with Smaug he came across the precious jewel, the Arkenstone or 'The Jewel of The Mountain.' This one stone is the birthright of every king of Erabor and for Thorin to gain complete control of his fallen kingdom, he must have the stone in his possession. Except, he can't find it...only because the stone is in Bilbo's possession. Like with the One Ring, Bilbo also was taken by greed and purposely hid the stone, believing that it would be his payment as burglar.

     Throughout the rest of the story, Bilbo's secret ownership of the Arkenstone becomes the catalyst for Thorin's rage and arrogance and refusal to give aid to others. Eventually war breaks out between the elves, the dwarves, and two armies of orcs. Thinking that he can help, Bilbo barters the stone for a hopeful surrender on Thorin's part. When Thorin refuses and incites war, all Bilbo can do is stand by Gandalf's side and wonder if he had done the right thing. 


      In the book, Bilbo was in coma and so he (and the reader) completely missed the battle. The moviverse, however, puts Bilbo right in the middle of the battle between the races of Middle Earth where he witnesses, horror, death, bravery and courage. By the time Bilbo reaches the Shire, he is most definitely not the same Baggins of Bag End. His eyes, his heart and his mind have been opened to the realities of war and evil, but also the realities of friendship and loyalty. His most profound quality though, was unexpected courage to do the wrong thing for the right reason. Alright, yes, Bilbo did betray Thorin by hiding the Arkenstone, but Thorin proved, stone or not, that his arrogance and obstinacy would be his eventual downfall.

     Martin Freeman was most definitely at the top of his acting game in this movie! As the series has progressed, he has broken away from the bookverse Bilbo and created a more realistic and understandable character who is, at the center, a flawed and imperfect person, but a person nonetheless who also possess the strengths and gifts that create an unlikely legend.

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Thorin Oakenshield
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield
     Thorin has a lot of annoying habits, but his most irritating is the ability to make you love and admire him one moment and then despise him the next. That is pretty much his tagline throughout the whole story. Thorin has finally achieved his great crusade of taking back Erabor and can now sit at his ancestor's throne, but soon the throne, the kingdom, and his lineage becomes mere dust on the wall when he finally finds the legendary gold covered cavern of his grandfather. Stricken with what is called 'dragon sickness,' Thorin puts everything and everyone (even his nephews) behind his cancerous mental disease.

     When his best friend, Dwalin, warns him of his impending danger, Thorin goes through a psychological battle within himself to fight for his humane nature and not succumb to the fallen legacy of his grandfather (beautiful scene!). In the midst of this personal warfare, Thorin refuses to fight for the other people's of Middle Earth. When he refuses to give aid or shelter to the refugees of Lake Town and not repay them for their assistance, he begins an all out battle between the races of Middle Earth.

     Thorin goes from dragon sickness to Dwarvish DNA and hides behind the walls of Erabor, believing that it his right as king to stay there. Yet, finally he realizes that his selfishness will not win him the respect and honor he craves as a king and goes out with his company and fights for Erabor and for his people...even if it means it will be his last fight.

     Wow! All I can say is WOW! Richard Armitage's acting was just incredible! He already owned the role of Thorin in the first two films, but he just became the character and pulled if off in such a way that you could feel Thorin's pain, anguish, and sorrow. Even though movieverse Thorin is very different from bookverse, Richard's portrayal was above and beyond anything I could have ever imagined for this character. 

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Bard, The Bowman
Luke Evans as Bard
      If anyone in this story had the right to say, "I told you so!" Then it would be Bard, hands-down. Instead, when Smaug attacks Lake Town, Bard is the only man brave enough (or foolish enough) to take on the dragon that ruined his ancestor's home of Dale and brought shame to his own family. Bard and his son Bain take on the dragon with last black arrow and finally bring down Smaug the Magnifcent in a breathtaking climax...and that's the first ten minutes of the movie!

     After Lake Town's destruction and death of the Master of Lake Town, Bard takes on the heavy responsibility of leading the survivors to the mountains in hopes of finding shelter and safety. Overtime, Bard becomes a benevolent and wise leader of the people of Lake Town, but when Thorin Oakenshield goes back on his promise to pay back Bard and his people, Bard is left with no choice, but to side with Thranduil and his elves, and lead a battle against Thorin for his people's right to the mountain and their livelihoods.

      What Peter Jackson has done with Bard is actually make him the Aragorn of the story. Bard came from a family of nobility and were leaders in Dale before it was attacked. Now, he has the chance to become a leader or even a king, but would rather serve the common man and remain a loving father than ever think of putting himself higher than anyone else. And Luke Evans is just wonderful in this role as well! He was perfect for the fleshing out of this solitary character from the book and turning him into real person...that you just can't help but fall in love with...

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Thranduil
Lee Pace as Thranduil
     Elves who think they have a right to everything. One could say that Thranduil isn't like most elves. Where his kind are more in tune with nature and don't rely on worldly goods, Thranduil on the other hand has just as much desire for the gold and jewels in Erabor as Thorin does. At the same time, he is having to deal with a difficult foster daughter and reign in his wayward son of who both receive exile from Mirkwood for disobedience to their king.

     When Thranduil hears about Smaug's death, he rides up to the mountains in the search of reclaiming several elven jewels that had been stolen. While there, he shows a kindly side and brings food and provisions for the people of Lake Town and allies himself with Bard to deal with Thorin. When war is raged and Thorin's cousin, Dain Ironfoot, is attacked by a legion of orcs, Thranduil does the unexpected and sends his army of elves to defend them. 

     Yet, he still must deal with Tauriel and Legolas, both of whom have excepted their exile and are willing to fight and defend the dwarfish people. He offers surprising comfort to Tauriel when she loses someone she never expected she would love and instead of disowning Legolas, he sends him on a mission to track down another crownless king. 

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Tauriel
Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel
      After defying Thranduil and leaving Mirkwood to find Kili and the company, Tauriel finds herself in Lake Town, taking on the unlikely role of  'mother' to Bard's children as she leads them and the few left over dwarves (including Kili, whom she healed) to safety. When they find themselves safe from the destruction, Tauriel must say goodbye to Kili, as he heads to Erabor to find his uncle. Confused by her feelings for the handsome, young dwarf, Tauriel is shocked when she receives news on her exile from Mirkwood, and even more shocked when Legolas refuses to go back and chooses to stay with her. Throughout the battle, Tauriel does her best to track down Kili in some hopes of seeing him one last time, but only finds unexpected heartbreak and despair when he is slain and left to die alone. Although, Thranduil offers her words of comfort and support, Tauriel has resigned to live in Middle Earth with a broken heart, but also with a deeper wisdom and respect of all peoples around her.

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Legolas
Orlando Bloom as Legolas
       Thranduil's youngest son who refuses to give an inch when he comes to the crossroads of right and wrong. Legolas would rather choose exile with Tauriel then go back to Mirkwood and hide away from the rest of Middle Earth. While helping the people of Lake Town, he forges a friendship with the new master, Bard and stands by his side during the battle. When his father wants to leave the battle after the high cost of the elves and threatens Tauriel, Legolas defends her and keeps his father there. When Thorin is battling Azog, Legolas runs to the tops of the cliffs and shoots arrows at the oncoming orcs who are aiding their master. Over and over again, the woodland prince proves his loyalty, honor and courage, and these traits do not go unnoticed by his father. In the end, Thranduil sends his son on a strange mission to find a ranger in the north, known as Strider and unbeknownst to Legolas, their destinies will save Middle Earth in the years to come. 

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Gandalf
Ian McKellan as Gandalf
      The wise grey wizard who first got Bilbo Baggins out of his door is now trying to send the stubborn hobbit back. As a matter of fact, nothing really goes as he plans in the last part of the story. When he is captured by the Necromancer, Galadriel, Sarumon, and Elrond both come to his aid and fight the nine shadows of Dol Guldur. He returns to Erabor to find that Thorin is once again ruled by his obstinate nature and would rather start a war than give in to common sense. all through the story, Gandalf remains a constant source of hope and wisdom as well as an ever present spirit comfort to the suffering people of Middle Earth. And he does not believe that Bilbo's trip to Erabor will essentially be his last.

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Galadriel
Cait Blanchett as Galadriel
     Although, she appears in one scene, Galadriel makes it a memorable one. When Gandalf in imprisoned in Dol Guldur for finding the identity of the evil living there, Galadriel attempts to save him, but is attacked by the nine shadows of the ringwraiths. Elrond and Sarumon come to her aid, but even the greatest wizard and the most powerful elven warrior can't stand against him. Only Galadriel has enough power wielded by the Light of Earendil to fight of the evil of Sauron and his immortal enemies. Temporarily weakened, Galadriel sees the impending danger coming to Middle Earth and what it will take in the upcoming years to stop it.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies
      For such a simple children's book, Peter Jackson did a great job at creating three complex films that really did capture the nuance of the story and why it has been so love for over 75 years.  From taking one sentence characters such as Bard and bringing him to a more central part of the story or creating a character such as Tauriel that provides a great amount of emotional depth when it comes to love, loss and learning to love again. 

Kili, Thorin and Fili
     There was only one problem I had with the story and it had to do with Fili's death. It really had no emotional afterthought at all. We never saw his body or anyone grieving or mourning him; I think Fili as the crown prince, should have had a more forefront role in the story and not just be the 'other brother.' He is just as important as Kili and Thorin, and Peter Jackson, who created Tauriel and fleshed out Bard, could have given him more importance in the story.

     Other than that little piece of importance, I loved it, the whole trilogy. It was great seeing the book and characters come to life. The Hobbit definitely has a happier ending than The Lord of The Rings did and that's because we all know that the story doesn't actually end there.

1 comment:

  1. Finally! Someone else who agrees that this was an amazing film! Your character breakdown is fantastic. I really enjoy how much thought you put into each character.

    Obviously, Bilbo and Thorin were the standouts for me. I did not realize how much I was attached to the character until this film. And of course Bilbo is the same awesome Bilbo that we know and love. Excellent post!

    -James

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