The culmination of Peter Jackson’s opus to J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy came to its full force culmination with the release of The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies at the end of 2014. With a budget reportedly in the region of £250 million behind it, Jackson in the director’s chair, Tolkien’s amazing story to base itself on and a return for what has been an impressive cast it was always going to be the Christmas blockbuster that fans were hoping for. However, sadly it didn’t quite live up to expectations with direction, structure and special effects coming under fire from critics. Read our full DVD review for more details.
The UK release date took place on the 12th December 2014, and the movie subsequently went out in the United States on the 17th December 2014. As with The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, the third and final movie in the series was available in both 2D and 3D, but with the overly fantastical visual style of the 3D screening of both the final two movies in the trilogy it was a better experience in 2D. The film was also released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download, hitting the shelves in the UK on the 20th April 2015, following up on the US release on the 24th March.
The story picks up directly after the furious exit of Smaug from the depths of the Lonely Mountain, following Bilbo, Thorin and the company of dwarfs’ attempts to steel the Arkenstone. With their efforts to stop the dragon by rekindling the old dwarf forges of Erebor and smouldering him in smelted gold only resulting in renewed anger and retribution, they must watch from afar as his onslaught rains down on Lake Town.
There’s also the continuation of Gandalf’s scrapes in Dol Guldur with the Necromancer, who showed himself to actually be Sauron at the end of The Desolation Of Smaug, to look forward to. All of this will inevitably build to the culmination of the titular Battle Of The Five Armies, which sees the goblins and the wargs of Moria, Gundabad and the Misty Mountains fighting against the men of the Long Lake, the elves of Mirkwood, the dwarves and the great eagles of the Misty Mountains.
There aren’t that many new faces to the cast, with the exception maybe of Billy Connolly, who puts in a fleeting performance as Dáin II Ironfoot, but there’s a whole lot of the cast of the previous films making their way in the battle. Obviously, Ian McKellen (X-Men Days Of Future Past) has once again grown his beard down to his knees to take on the familiar role of Gandalf and Martin Freeman (Sherlock) has been thinking small and nimble-fingered to return to his performance as Bilbo Baggins.
Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness) plays Smaug, as well as Sauron following the Necromancer reveal, Richard Armitage is back as Thorin Oakenshield, Orlando Bloom plays Legolas, Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man) is Tauriel and Luke Evans is Bard. Lee Pace, who recently wowed audiences as baddy Ronan in Guardians Of The Galaxy, returns as Thranduil, James Nesbitt as Bofur, Mikael Persbrandt (The Salvation (2014)) as Beorn, Stephen Fry as the Master of Lake Town and Sylvester McCoy, of Doctor Who fame, is Radagast The Brown once again. Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and Christopher Lee continue their long standing roles as Galadriel, Elrond and Saruman too.
The release of The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, is as much of a sad landmark movie moment as it is exciting as it sees the last outing in Peter Jackson’s cinematic love affair with the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. With both The Hobbit and The Lords Of The Rings complete, there’s not many obvious avenues left for the producer and director, so the question is where will he turn his attention next. While there’s still The Adventures Of Tom Bombadil and Tolkien’s posthumous publications, like The Silmarillion and The History Of Middle Earth, which could act as inspiration for further movies, there’s a distinct possibility that Jackson could look for a new angle for his next ventures.