Review: Battle of Five Armies

Spoiler Alert….

With Smaug’s fiery destruction ended relatively swiftly, the majority of Battle of Five Armies is dedicated to character development, the titular battle and paving the way for the plot of Lord of the Rings.

The latest, and final, instalment of the Hobbit franchise requires quite an extensive suspension of belief even for the fantasy genre. Tolkien’s world is one of magical rings, gravity-defying elves and, in the Hobbit’s case, excessively CGI-d orcs, but Lord of the Rings always had a touch of realism to it. This may be in part due to the sweeping sets, from the halls of Gondor to the interior of Mount Doom, the sets added to an almost overwhelming sense of realism. But the idea of the, in comparison, limited armies of Thandriul even combined with the dwarf, human and eagle forces, defeating the expansive army of orcs, reached beyond the boundaries of fantasy believability. Watching the dwarves retreating and on the point of extinction made it difficult for me to believe a measly eight more would make a difference. Granted, they’re proven skilled fighters, and Thorin proves a rallying point, but the crane shot that showed the differences in numbers made me believe the demise of at least a significant portion of the dwarf army inevitable. On a quick, pedantic note: two dwarves fighting a hundred goblins with apparent ease, not sustaining even a shred in their clothing? This made it difficult for me to believe any situation would be perilous to this apparently immortal race. (Yes, I was quickly proven wrong.)

Another issue I had with this film is one I had in regards to Lord of the Rings: the eagles are essentially a deus ex machina, a plot device. What perplexed me was; why didn’t the eagles return Gandalf and Bilbo to the Shire? It took a considerable amount of time to reach the Mountain, and the trip was shown to be one of perilous danger in the first two instalments. Regardless of this, hearing the Eagles are coming, previously used in Return of the King as a symbol of hope and salvation, turned into a sign of helplessness and despair, was particularly harrowing, and I applaud the script-writers for this subversion. 

The ending left me somewhat unsatisfied also, with more than a few lingering questions. What happens to the contents of the Mountain? Does Bard become Master of the town? Was Tauriel unbanished? Peter Jackson seems to have gone down the polar opposite route of Return of the King with it’s multiple endings that, despite dragging the already long running time, leave you with the satisfaction of knowing the outcome for most of the characters. I did however, enjoy the final scene, which effectively linked the Hobbit series with Lord of the Rings.

The above criticisms are not to say I didn’t enjoy the movie; Battle of Five Armies tie­s in with An Unexpected Journey for my favourite of the Hobbit franchise. The battle scenes were up to their usual Peter Jackson standards, and, for someone who’s never read the novel, filled with tension about what the outcome would be. The acting also was spectacular. Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman were stellar as expected, the latter’s performance of denial and grief was particularly stellar. The stand out actor for me was Richard Armitage however. Armitage pulls off Thorin’s broody, vengeful persona effectively, but his performance during Battle of Five Armies, particularly the effects of dragon sickness was unsettling, his demise and reconciliation with Bilbo evocative.

Despite it’s flaws, Five Armies definitely exceeded my expectations after the disappointment of the bloated Desolation of Smaug, and contains stunning performances from it’s standout cast. I’d describe the movie as more of a popcorn flick, an enjoyable way to kill a few hours with some remarkable action scenes interlaced with, questionably timed, comedic moments.

Grade: B-

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Seasons ;

Another- slightly more sombre- sonnet!

Verbal words can be stammered, typed messages cannot convey,

The twist of nerves and the surge of glee

whenever I glanced his way,

like a cage of butterflies set free.

Hair a darker shade than night,

Eyes paler than untouched snow,

that shone impossibly bright,

like a beacon, calling me to his glow.

The innocence of spring vibrates strong,

the warmth of summer held in his gaze

that made me belong,

with the promise of autumn’s haze.

He is the seasons, which means we cannot be,

For he loves another, and does not think of me.

Monologue;

The revised monologue I wrote for college;

“That’s right, I’m a conformist; conforming to the age of despising human interaction in every form. Maybe if murder becomes socially acceptable I should start offing people whenever I don’t get coffee in the morning or if I just miss the bus.”

Exasperation etched itself plainly on the less aged features of the pair, the teenage girl who was at the age where rebellion against everything society threw her way was paramount.

“Don’t start.”

Alas, unfortunately for the girl and those unlucky enough to be in the near vicinity, the train of thought had already accelerated, the cogs working rapidly in the mind of her Father in what would undoubtedly be another one of his spiels.

“Has no-one seen Terminator? What if one day the machines get tired of scanning vegetables and decide to rise up and overthrow their human oppressors? Or Wall.E, where humanity became so dependant on technology we all became morbidly obese? Back in my day we only had three channels. Now we have self-checkout machines, HD and a million other unnecessary technological advancements. Do we really need a machine to scream at us and take jobs from people who need money?”

A sarcastic remark began it’s inception from the girl’s bank of verbal insults- the ones usually directed towards her fathers ones involving his age- but before it fell from parted lips, the chime of her mobile indicated a message. Retrieving it and glancing at the text, she heard the sound of her Father’s derisive scoff, one that practically begged to be the subject of a heated glare.

“What?”

“Is the world going to end because you didn’t check your phone? Look around; half of the people here are on their phones, and they’re with people. Social networking? Don’t make me laugh. There’s nothing sociable about hunching over a tiny screen, ignoring whoever you’re with.”

“We’re talking to other people, Dad.”

“That’s like saying you’re playing golf with one of those simulator things. It’s not the same thing, is it? You can’t judge body language through a text, you can’t hear someone laughing at a joke you made. How do you know if they put a lol at the end that they actually laughed? I’m telling you; mobile phones are a curse. If there comes a day where they don’t exist anymore, your generation will have to learn how to actually talk to each other.”

The Father’s outpouring had seemed to extend the wait in the queue, what with his booming condescension and her hissed retorts, it seemed to take an eternity before they had finally reached the pinnacle of the queue, and were now approaching the manifestation of all the wrongdoings with this technological age; the self-checkout machine.

And it only took approximately four seconds before the first of many frustrated yells of, “It’s in the goddamn bagging area!”