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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies review round-up

Here is a list of reviews of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Peter Jackson’s third and final film in his adaptation of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The world première was held in London on 1 December 2014, and will be released on 12 December in the UK. This article will be updated regularly and sorted by date (most recent at the bottom).

Last Updated: 18.00, Friday 5th December 2014.

Variety (1 December 2014) were put in mind of Bilbo’s “third time pays for all” refrain and were mostly pleased [no star rating given]:

While that effort has ultimately proved only partly successful, it’s easier now to see the entire “Hobbit” project as a labor of love on Jackson’s part, rather than a descent into crass box-office opportunism. Where the first two films often felt like a marking of time by a director intent on fattening his own Smaug-like coffers, “The Battle of the Five Armies” contains a series of emotional payoffs and bridges to the “Lord of the Rings” films that work as well as they do for having been carefully seeded by Jackson in the previous episodes. And if none of the “Hobbit” films resonate with “Rings’” mythic grandeur, it’s hard not to marvel at Jackson’s facility with these characters and this world, which he seems to know as well as John Ford knew his Monument Valley, and to which he here bids an elegiac adieu. Indeed, it is not only Bilbo but Jackson too who returns to the safety of his Hobbit hole, weary and winded, with a quizzical grimace on his face that seems to say: “Where do I go from here?”

The Mirror (1 December 2014) were satisfied with the film overall [no star rating given]:

The film contains no shortage of wow moments. A swordfight on a crumbling bridge and a face-off on an ice lake are highlights. But best of all is a finale that wraps up the story up in a humorous, quietly-satisfying way.

If you don’t believe in magic, you will after seeing this.

The Telegraph (1 December 2014) thought it felt like the film ‘begs not to exist’ [2 stars]:

The trouble is that Jackson can’t make it mean very much: when every life on Middle Earth [sic] is seemingly at stake, few individually grab our attention. There’s more aftermath than plot left, and very little of it has to do with Bilbo (Martin Freeman), who feels increasingly like a forlorn bystander in his own franchise.

The Independent (2 December 2014) were broadly positive [4 stars]:

A movie comprised almost entirely of battles could have become very tedious indeed. Jackson, though, is always able to give an intimacy to even the biggest, noisiest scenes. […] There are some moments of mawkishness, especially at the finale. We get the sense that Jackson is struggling to drag himself away for the last time from a kingdom to which he has devoted so much of his working life and that he can’t quite work out how to make a tidy exit. Nonetheless, for all its loose ends, The Battle Of The Five Armies is the strongest, boldest film in the Hobbit trilogy and provides just the send off that the series deserves.

The Guardian (2 December 2014) admitted to leaving the cinema a bit dazed but thought the film lived up to the expectations of its title [3 stars]:

[…] this film is a fitting cap to an extended series that, if nothing else, has transformed Tolkien’s place in the wider culture. His books were once strictly for spotty teen nerds (I think we’ve all been there), and while The Battle of the Five Armies is unlikely to repeat the Oscar sweep that greeted the conclusion of Jackson’s first Tolkien trilogy, in truth it is just as enjoyable as each of the five films that came before it.

Den of Geek (2 December 2014) were happy with the film overall, but thought the opening sequence out of place [4 stars]:

The Battle Of The Five Armies is a satisying [sic] ending to the saga, thankfully. And as we say farewell to Middle Earth on the big screen, at least this final instalment of The Hobbit ends things on a high note, and with an emotional force that matches its visual power. The Hobbit‘s arguably not been as successful a trilogy as Lord Of The Rings, but this is a strong final chapter to end on. Job done, Mr Jackson…

The Daily Mail (2 December 2014) found little to complain about [4 stars]:

Indeed, this is film-making at its most spectacular, with more wizardry wrought by the visual effects department than even by Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen). You don’t need to know your elves from your Bilbo to find it thoroughly impressive.

However, it is in parts also decidedly scary. Children may by now have become inured to those terrifying Orcs, but be warned, there is one scene, in which the princess Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) actually appears to be possessed, that really wouldn’t be out of place in a horror film.

The Evening Standard (2 December) were not impressed [2 stars]:

What a horrible way to go. Peter Jackson made history with his take on The Lord of the Rings and even the first two instalments of his Hobbit adaptation had their good points.

The kiss off, however, is pompous, crude and bitty. And doesn’t even have any nice songs. […]

Jackson’s film is a bloated panto with a few inspired beats. It’s bound to make money, but let’s hope not too much. We don’t want more where this came from. Tolkien once wrote a 27 line poem called Cat. Some small and beautiful things should stay that way.

CNET (2 December 2014) thought the film should not have distracted from Bilbo’s story, but did not feel short-changed given the film’s title [no star rating given]:

Ultimately, it feels churlish to pick holes. Jackson’s vision of J. R. R. Tolkien’s world is as grand and entertaining as any fantasy world you could hope to escape to. If “Five Armies” feels familiar then it’s thoroughly, comfortably familiar, like wrapping yourself up in a duvet on a Sunday afternoon and watching any of the “Lord of the Rings” flicks for the 20th time. With Jackson deftly weaving in references to the still-to-come trilogy he began 13 years ago, the end loops back to the beginning. Like a circle. Like something round.

Like a… well, you know.

About the Author: The Tolkien Society
The Tolkien Society is an educational charity and worldwide membership organisation devoted to promoting research into, and educating the public in, the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The Society organises regular events (such as Oxonmoot and Tolkien Reading Day), publishes regular books and journal (such as Amon Hen and Mallorn), and is working towards a permanent home to Tolkien in the UK.