Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins
Ian McKellen as Gandalf the Gray
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield
Manu Bennett as Azog the Defiler
Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug and Sauron The Necromancer
Ken Stott as Balin
Aiden Turner as Kili
Dean O’Gorman as Fili
James Nesbit as Bofur
Graham McTavish as Dwalin
Jed Brophy as Nori
Adam Brown as Ori
John Callen as Gloin
Stephen Hunter as Bombur
Peter Hambleton as Gloin
Mark Hadlow as Dori
William Kircher as Bifur
Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel
Orlando Bloom as Legolas
Lee Pace as Thranduil
Luke Evans as Bard
John Bell as Bain
Stephen Fry as The Master of Lake-Town
Ryan Gage as Alfrid
Cate Blanchett as Galadriel
Hugo Weaving as Elrond
Christopher Lee as Saruman the White
Sylvester McCoy as Radagast the Brown
Mikael Persbrandt as Beorn
This is my first time reviewing a movie at a time when it is still in theaters. Since I’m blogging a Lord of the Rings marathon in honor of the Hobbit trilogy coming to a close, I figured I might as well.
My take on Desolation of Smaug was decidedly negative. So naturally, I was worried about how the final chapter would turn out. While I am a little disappointed, it is enjoyable. It’s a masterpiece of melee combat with some drama thrown in. But it really can’t be considered great like the first four movies in this franchise. Good but not great.
We begin with Smaug terrorizing Lake-Town and Gandalf being held prisoner by The Necromancer, who turns out be Sauron, trying his hand at emerging without the One Ring. As Bard catches a glimpse of Smaug’s one vulnerable spot and sends an arrow into it, Gandalf is rescued by Galadrial, Saruman, and Elrond. Sauron and the nazgul are banished, and Saruman assures everybody that this is the last we’ve seen of them. Is this Peter Jackson hinting about Saruman’s betrayal that we know is coming?
Meanwhile, the men of Lake-Town want a share of Smaug’s Uncle Scrooge-like hoard in return for helping the dwarves get there home back. The elves of Mirkwood want a gem necklace that historically belongs to them. But Thorin doesn’t want to give a copper up. He’s drunk with power and greed and is seeking the Arkenstone, a mystical gem that is implied to be part of the cause of Thorin’s turn for the worse. Bilbo, meanwhile has been hoarding it out of fear that if Thorin gets it, he will become completely evil.
However, the real meat of the film occurs after the elven, man, dwarven, and finally, orcish armies arrive. I’ve pretty much explained why the elves and men come, but it turns out that Thorin sent an envoy to dwarves from somewhere else to help. But then Azog the Defiler and his army of orcs, who have, of course, been pursuing Bilbo and the dwarves all this time, attack. A truce between the men, elves, and dwarves is formed so they can unite against their true enemies. Well, Thorin’s dwarves except the stars of the show. Thorin orders his company to tend to the defense of what is their home again while their kin fight and die for them.
Give credit where credit is due to Peter Jackson. He can do drama. The corruption of Thorin is made for extremely effective cinema. As part of a prequel to the movies whose central theme is the corruption of power, this is quite worthy.
But we don’t spend much time on this. No, the main focus is the big battle. It’s done extremely well, not that anyone who’s seen the battles in The Two Towers and Return of the King would be surprised. But this in of itself doesn’t make for good cinema.
Part of this is by design. The Battle of the Five Armies was almost where we left off. So there wasn’t too much room for drama. But the fact that some problems were inevitable doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
So this movie caps off an overrated trilogy in a fitting way. It’s not excellent. It’s not even great. But I would consider it to be good. And the action is nothing less than awesome.
Don’t watch The Battle of the Five Armies expecting an epic curtain call. Watch it expecting popcorn fun. Sorry if that is disappointing to some.
A major improvement over Desolation of Smaug at any rate.
Overall: 7 out of 10