The movie that should have never been three movies is finally over.
There is only one reason you would find yourself in a dark theater, bracing yourself for Battle of the Five Armies. You have seen fifteen hours of elves, hobbits, humans and Orcs romping around Middle Earth. And yet, you want more.
If you can withstand The Desolation of Smaug as an appetizer, watch it first. It’s the best of the trilogy and you’ll understand Five Armies better. Plus, you can’t beat the heartstopping final sequence of the best CGI dragon in history shaking off a coating of gold flakes and rasping, “I am fire…. I am death”.
Although I love the chilling effect (and ass- kicking sound mixing) of Smaug’s final scene, I wish Peter Jackson had finished the arc. At the beginning of Five Armies, we’re thrown in the middle of a battle between Smaug and the Lake Townians, and no one can really remember why we care, or what the deal was with the Black Arrow, or any of the character’s motives, or ANYTHING. Then Bard the Bowman kills the dragon and somehow you know the movie will not get any cooler.
Battle of the Five Armies spends less than five seconds catching the audience up, so here’s a cheat sheet:
- The Dwarves made it to their precious mountain but don’t have the coveted Arkenstone.
- Lake-Town lacks a clear leader. Their shaky financial situation worsens when the dragon completely obliterates their town.
- Gandalf has discovered a great evil. Sauron the Lord of Evil has returned.
- Legolas and hot girl elf Tauriel (love interest of hot boy dwarf Killi) ran some orcs out of Lake- Town and are now tracking them through Orc Country. (They call it Gundabad. It’s fun to say. Try it.)
- Elves just want to gtfo, as they do when shit goes south.
By movie’s end, only two of those points actually matter.
After Smaug dies, Thorin gets possessive and paranoid over Smaug’s horde. Thorin promised Lake Town a share of treasure in exchange for help. Now Lake Town has neither lake nor town, and Thorin will not yield. Unfortunately, with Smaug dead, others set their sights on the mountain. The Battle of Five Armies ensues.
Here’s a cheat sheet to the five armies:
- The Dwarves, who apparently have never had a problem accepting Thorin as their king and come to his rescue.
- The Elves, who want some crazy moon jewels or other.
- The humans. Remember Helm’s Deep? With all the little boys running around in the mud with spears? It’s like that. They want to rebuild their town.
- Orcs and other ugly things that have other names but we call them Orcs anyway. They want to spread evil so we don’t like them.
- The forces of nature, aka eagles and Beorn, who arrive at the last minute.
The real chair- gripping moments come from the one- on- one battles. We have two hideous and vile Orc villains, Bolg and Azog.
The matches are as follows:
- Bolg vs. Tauriel, Killi, and Legolas
- Azog vs. Thorin
The fights are intense and creative and fun, defying logic and jerking heartstings at every turn. Throin battles Azog on a giant ice field. Bolg battles the elves on a crumbling mountain. Legolas walks on falling rocks like they are garden cobblestones.
In a move no one saw coming, TAURIEL LIVES. Killi dies defending her and I’m pretty sure Legolas ends up killing Bolg. Actually, the elves’ story winds up being the trilogy’s most compelling. This trilogy develops Legolas’ character. We learn his dad, elf king Thranduil, lost his beloved elf wife and has never loved again. Thranduil understands Tauriel’s love for Killi and the power of love becomes the movie’s most moving point. We understand Legolas’ affinity towards dwarves, and his outstanding moral fiber. Tauriel persuades Legolas to always fight for good, a trait not inherent in elves. Killi becomes a Model Dwarf and symbolizes all that is good in the dwarf race. Pretty good considering Peter Jackson totally made up Tauriel, the Tauriel/ Killi love story, and a bunch of other crap.
As for the dwarves, all their leaders perish and they all but go back into holes in the ground. So much for a race- saving quest. The ending sets up The Lord of the Rings. Bilbo returns to the Shire, Frodo finds the ring, and we’ll have to sit on our bums for another nine hours to satisfy our craving for Middle- Earth.