reviewed by: Raphael Vera
battle between evil and good
dragons and dinosaurs—discover how they are connected
dragons in the Bible
courage / bravery
temptation in the Bible
How can I deal with temptations? Answer
armies in the Bible
rings in the Bible
Luke Evans … Bard
Benedict Cumberbatch … Smaug / Necromancer
Lee Pace … Thranduil
Evangeline Lilly … Tauriel
Richard Armitage … Thorin Oakenshield
Cate Blanchett … Galadriel
Manu Bennett … Azog
Orlando Bloom … Legolas
Christopher Lee … Saruman
Martin Freeman … Bilbo Baggins
Ian McKellen … Gandalf
Hugo Weaving … Elrond
Aidan Turner … Kili
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New Line Cinema
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|Distributor||New Line Cinema—Warner Bros. Pictures|
A small and unassuming Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), under the encouragement of the powerful but kindly wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) has joined a company of dwarves who are set on reclaiming their kingdom under a mountain that was seized from them years ago by the most fearsome and cunning dragon of all, Smaug. Their adventures leading up to this confrontation were detailed in first, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and then, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
Bilbo and his dwarf comrades have been confronting all kinds of dangers during their journey battling monstrous orcs, wargs, trolls, goblins and giant spiders. Beyond that, they have managed incredible escapes from enormous beings of living rock and from the hands of the kingdom of Wood-elves, all leading up to their confrontation with the nigh invincible Smaug, voiced with a noted fiendish pleasure by Benedict Cumberbatch.
However, failing to destroy the monster, they have instead ignited Smaug’s fury who turns on the nearby residents of Laketown. Regardless of the outcome, the dwarves are determined to fight for their former kingdom, and soon the armies of elves, men, dwarves, orcs, goblins and more will gather for war at the steps of their mountain.
Obsession drives the dwarf throne’s true heir Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), close behind is the greed of the Elfin King Thranduil (Lee Pace), while love motivates much in the hearts of both Prince Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and his Captain of the guard Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) with ample measures of loyalty and honor driving the rest of Thorin’s company. All shall soon have their mettle tested, and, for some, it will be their last time.
“The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” is a wonderfully told, meticulously crafted, spectacularly epic film that concludes “The Hobbit” trilogy in a rousing fashion, while managing to make fantasy realm characters relatable to the audience. As with Director Peter Jackson’s other “Middle-Earth” films there are familiar concerns with some of the content.
Violence: Very heavy. Set in a mythological age where powerful races (including monsters) rule, death is an all too common occurrence with weapons used ranging from spears, blades, axes, hammers, catapults and more. During battle, death can come any number of ways, including spearing, stabbing, and cutting through body, throat, head and heart, though it is just as common to be crushed from monsters or debris, as it is to be burned alive by the dragon Smaug. People are also thrown from high places, and many foes are seen decapitated. Several particularly tragic death blows are delivered just offscreen, but blood and gore are not featured. This film, of course, cannot be recommended for pre-teens or smaller children.
Language. Mild. The Lord’s name is never taken in vain, and the only use of ‘Lord’ is in reference to station or title, as in “My Liege/Lord”. The Dwarf leader Dain (Billy Connolly) who uses a derogatory term for illegitimate children (bast***) and also exclaims, “Sod off” which, depending on the context may or may not be a curse in the British isles, no other foul language was noted.
Occult: Although J.R.R. Tolkien’s Christian faith is well known, God is never referred to directly. Inferences can be made that the wizards represent angelic beings, but without clarifying language, a scene, for example, with the wizard Radagast chanting during a trance-like state can easily be taken for the occult. Even the good Elfin Queen Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) appears almost demonic when exercising her power to the fullest. A point should probably be made that none of these scenes from the film are written about in Tolkien’s book.
Moral lessons abound in the written works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and many books have been written with this focus, but taking only the film into consideration here are a few themes that stand out.
Greed is the most prevalent vice in the movie. Witness the Master of Laketown stealing the village’s treasury, the Elfin King’s willingness to go to war over heirlooms of ‘white gold’ or even Thorin’s obsession with reclaiming the Arkenstone, and contrast them against Bard’s desire only to see to the safety of his children (his treasure), and it is easy to realize that the Word of God spoke clearly about this.
“So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” —Luke 12:21
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” —Matthew 6:21
Bard’s son is terrified, understandably, in the midst of probable death, when Bard tells him simply to turn and look at him. By focusing on his father, he is able to calm down, and his faith is rewarded.
“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
The people of Laketown degenerate into a mob and wish to punish the cowardly and self-seeking Alfrid, former deputy to the town’s master, but Bard intervenes and is not intent on exacting any revenge.
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” —Romans 12:19
A pivotal scene is the confrontation with the demonic Necromancer, where the forces for good are attempting to banish him to ‘whence he came’. Our Lord Jesus gave his Apostles, and then later us as his children, the power to repel evil as well as the evil one himself, and this battle should remind us that all those ‘in Christ’ can do this!
During the same confrontation, Galadriel is exhausted and spent with no apparent reserves left. Yet, holding the ‘Phial of Galadriel’ a power not hers but suddenly within her now is able to overcome the personification of the darkness in this world. This is similar to what the Apostle John affirmed when he said:
“Ye are of God, my little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.” —1 John 4:4
Bilbo may have begun his adventure as the archetype of the ‘unwilling hero,’ similar in some respects to Frodo in ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ but by tale’s end he embodies many of the Christian traits that are only brought to light in our own lives through adversity, and this is exactly what we should expect.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice, insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings…” —1 Peter 1:12
Perhaps my favorite line in the movie is when Bilbo remarks to Gandalf how lucky it is for him to be with the wizard, but Gandalf interjects, in so many words, that it is divine providence that made the difference, when he tells him,
“You [Bilbo] don’t really suppose do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck?”
“The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” is the finale that fans of the movies have been waiting for, and, yes, is even more impressive if you are able to see it in IMAX. While liberties are clearly taken, fans of the book may still be pleased with how the director managed to both highlight positive values and especially expand on a final battle that was only one chapter in the book to an intensely gripping and climactic third of the film. The addition of characters, such as Legolas and Tauriel’s love for the dwarf Kili, serve the narrative well, in my opinion. Strong caution for parents of younger children, but an enthusiastic recommendation for the rest of us who love experiencing a unique and great adventure!
Violence: Very heavy / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.