HUB Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Story posted March 19, 2015 in CommRadio by Sofia Westin

“Will you have peace, or war?”

Well, then. I think that is a rhetorical question.

The third movie of the Hobbit Trilogy picks up where the Desolation of Smaug left off: Smaug the dragon has left the Lonely Mountain and is heading towards Lake-town. Bard the Bowman is locked in his cell, while the woodland elf, Tauriel, is saving her loved dwarf, and Gandalf is held hostage by Sauron and Azog.

As time passes, the dwarves of Erebor under Thorin Oakenshield prepare to defend their mountain against foes who wish to claim it, while the leader himself becomes more like the mountain’s previous master: greedy and obsessed with gold. He faces angered elves and men as the final installment comes to a close. Gandalf, if freed from Sauron’s clutches, and hurries to help his friends. Bilbo, the little half-ling, tries to reason with Thorin and keep the peace. But evil forces drive the different armies of Middle Earth to decide: unite or be destroyed.

Though you know there are five armies, you will consciously or subconsciously be counting the number of armies on the battlefield (believe me, I did too).

The Hobbit movies seemed to be getting better as each movie came out, much like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the sequel to the Hobbit films. Yet, the trilogy hit a high note with the second movie in the trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, and fell in the eyes of audiences and critics with the final movie. IMDb users rated it the most favorably, with an average score of 7.6. MetaCritic had a mix of favorable and mixed reviews, but it settled at the middle ground (no pun intended) with 59. Over at RottenTomatoes, top critics designated it “rotten” with a score of 49, while all critics averaged together raised the score to a “fresh” with 60. 76 percent of its audiences liked it.

It did not just fall short in reviews, but also in award nominations and wins. It only received one Academy Award and British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award, for sound editing and visual effects, respectively. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won 11 Academy Awards in 2004 and 2 BAFTAs.  (Yes, I know it is bad to compare the two, since their stories are very different and their purposes are different as well. But, I think it is important to note the difference in reviews and awards, as Peter Jackson, the director, went on a second journey to bring another story of Middle Earth to theatres after the success of the original trilogy. It’s a bit like Star Wars: it was a valiant effort with the prequel, but it just fell short. Unfortunately.)

On the Penn State Scale...
1—when Penn State loses a game,
2—an 8 a.m class (which are awful),
3—a canceled 8 a.m class,
4—free books for a year,
and 5—free Creamery for a year,

BotFA, despite it falling short on many counts, is still a solid movie with a score of 4.

The biggest flaw that it has is the fighting. Yes, the fighting is very cool looking and important to the movie (it is called the Battle of the Five Armies), but the fighting takes up most of the movie. I felt starved for more meaningful content, which the book has. The battle in the book is barely four pages long, yet it is the main source of content. That is perhaps the view of those who have read the book (like myself). But for those who have just seen the movies, I can imagine they feel the same way.

The best part of the film was that it tied everything up, not just for the sake of the trilogy, but also as a prequel to the Lord of the Rings. It starts with Bilbo Baggins thinking about his past in the An Unexpected Journey, and it ends with Bilbo, back in Bag End as he prepares for his 111th birthday.

I have to give major props to Jackson and his team for all of the Computer Generated Images they had to create for this movie. To show all the different creatures, large armies (and Thranduil riding his royal moose), all the gold, and the mountainous terrain must have taken a long time (but then again, it’s these peoples jobs).

The actors continue with solid performances, and I find Richard Armitage’s portrayal of Thorin especially brilliant. The changes in the Dwarf countenance and behavior from being noble to gold-crazy is very clear. Lee Pace as Thranduil really stands out from the crowd with his character’s convictions.

The movie is made at such an incredible scale, and it’s a marvel to look at. Looking at it from that view, and not as an audience member, kind of takes your breath away. Jackson spent around 2 years on this trilogy, which doesn’t include post-production. The ending to the trilogy is satisfying despite it falling short on content.

So go on and decide for yourself. Appreciate that elves are more than just pretty and good fighters in this one. And continue to wonder why Gandalf is considered a wizard.

Sofia Westin is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and economics. To contact her, email