From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the third in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies brings to an epic conclusion the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and the Company of Dwarves. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. Enraged, Smaug rains his fiery wrath down upon the defenseless men, women and children of Lake-town.
Obsessed above all else with his reclaimed treasure, Thorin sacrifices friendship and honor to hoard it as Bilbo’s frantic attempts to make him see reason drive the Hobbit towards a desperate and dangerous choice. But there are even greater dangers ahead. Unseen by any but the Wizard Gandalf, the great enemy Sauron has sent forth legions of Orcs in a stealth attack upon the Lonely Mountain.
As darkness converges on their escalating conflict, the races of Dwarves, Elves and Men must decide – unite or be destroyed. Bilbo finds himself fighting for his life and the lives of his friends in the epic Battle of the Five Armies, as the future of Middle-earth hangs in the balance.
(synopsis via Coming Soon)
It was that great rock philosopher of the Swinging Sixties , Jim Morrison, who once opined:
This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes, again
These poignant lyrics were penned by the lead singer of The Doors about his breakup with then-girlfriend Mary Werbelow, but were, in the words of the songwriter himself, “sufficiently complex and universal in its imagery that it could be almost anything you want it to be”.
Which is why I am co-opting them as a way of expressing my sadness that the great Middle Earth saga, which Peter Jackson first brought to cinemas in the Lord of the Rings saga (2001-2003) and re-commenced in the less universally-popularly received but nonetheless equally as impressive The Hobbit series, which reaches its all too soon conclusion in the suitably epic The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies.
I say “epic” not simply because of its larger-than-life narrative and sumptuous visual stylings but also in deference to its role as the grand bridging movie between the two towering fantasy franchises, a link between the events of The Hobbit, which details Bilbo Baggins throughly unexpected adventures into lands far beyond his own small world of the village of Hobbiton and the later battle for the soul of Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings, of which Bilbo’s nephew Frodo was the beating heart.
All of the events of the later saga have their origins in The Hobbit, a small book that Peter Jackson has seamlessly fashioned into a three movie series thanks largely to his encyclopaedic knowledge of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien which allowed him to include details from the countless reference books that the great fantasy author wrote to accompany his fictional works.
I’ve greatly enjoyed both of the already-released instalments of the series The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) but I am well aware, like Sandy Schaefer at Screenrant, that not everyone is so well disposed to Middle Earth journeys of Bilbo Baggins, placing a great deal of importance on the final pivotal instalment:
“It’ll likewise be interesting to see how Battle of the Five Armies affects general opinion on the Hobbit trilogy as a whole, seeing how the reception’s been far more mixed than it was for Jackson’s Rings films. Most people will probably still prefer Frodo’s journey over Bilbo’s at the end of the day, but if Jackson finishes his Hobbit trilogy on a strong note then it could improve the outlook towards his decision to split Tolkien’s Hobbit source novel into three movies to begin with.”
I have every confidence it will be the epic tour de force that Schaefer and other including myself hope it will be, since Jackson has shown a deft hand for taking the words of Tolkien and bringing them consistently, and with impressive narrative and visual mastery, to gloriously enchanting, utterly compelling life.
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies is out in New Zealand on 11 December, UK on 12 December, USA on 17 December and Australia on 26 December 2014.
You can find the full set of already-released character posters over at Screenrant.