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Movie Night – 'Hobbit' delivers all for trilogy (Dec. 24, 2014 issue)

“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is the last episode in the epic trilogy of Middle-earth. It’s the last movie prior to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. “The Battle of the Five Armies” is also possibly the best of the Hobbit series, in no small part due to the fact that there is actually an end to the story rather than a cliffhanger until the next movie.
The movie opens where “The Desolation of Smaug” ended: Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and the rest of the Dwarves on their journey had arrived at Lonely Mountain. They had found Erebor, the ancestral kingdom of the Dwarves inside the mountain. In Erebor, they also found an enormous treasure of untold riches, along with a certain ill-tempered fire-breathing dragon name Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). Smaug had escaped from the mountain, only to unleash his wrath on the citizens of nearby Laketown.
In the meantime, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), the king of the Dwarves, has claimed Erebor and the treasure on behalf of his people. But like many before him, Thorin becomes afflicted with dragon sickness. He is seduced by the riches of the treasure, mad with the power of controlling both the treasure and Erebor. He is obsessed with protecting his treasure and finding the Arkenstone, a great jewel known as the Heart of the Mountain.
The Dwarves are soon challenged in their position as the rulers of Erebor. The citizens of Laketown want their share of the treasure, the share that Thorin promised them for their assistance. At the same time, an Elf army led by Thranduil (Lee Pace) appears to demand what they consider their rightful claim to a portion of the treasure. Rather than negotiate, and unwilling to part with even a single coin from the treasure, Thorin chooses war. He is supported by an army of Dwarves who arrive just in time.
At the same time, Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) are acting on their own, aiding the Dwarves in their quest even though they are Elves. Legolas is in love with Tauriel, while Tauriel is in love with Kili (Aidan Turner), a Dwarf. Despite the fact that his affection is not returned, Legolas will do anything to protect Tauriel. Above all, Legolas is an honorable Elf.
All of the storylines (and armies) collide when two armies of evil Orcs come to stake their claim on the treasure. A battle of epic proportions ensues.
Bilbo, the Dwarves, Gandalf (Ian McKellan), Legolas, Bard (Luke Evans), and the rest of your favorite characters return for one final battle. The majority of the movie is the great battle, great in scale and great in filmmaking execution. The battle scenes are magnificent, the special effects perfect. Several individual battles are occurring in the midst of the carnage and they are among the best choreographed fights in the history of cinema. This is one movie where the 3D glasses are worth the extra money.
It’s not all about the battle. Despite the fact that Bilbo is a Hobbit, Martin Freeman plays the role with such humanity and humor that it tempers the testosterone of the warriors to a manageable level. The humor is injected at precisely the perfect moments and helps the movie to pass quickly even though its running time is two hours and twenty-four minutes.
“The Battle of the Five Armies” is about friendship and loyalty, honor and valor. It’s an epic collision of good versus evil, and it’s everything you could ask for in the finale of the trilogy.
Grade: A
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence and frightening images.