Smaug leaves Mount Erabor to wreak vengeance against the inhabitants of Lake Town and Thorin, his fellow dwarves and Bilbo are able to retake the mountain. Unfortunately, the ‘Dragon Sickness’ threatens to destroy Thorin; the corrupting power of gold and greed taking over his goodness and compassion. With a huge army of elves and the survivors of Lake Town wanting a share of the treasure, Thorin refuses their requests but with an orc army wanting to destroy them all, Thorin has to decide what is more important: gold, or the lives of everyone outside his gates.

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (2014) – Director: Peter Jackson

Is The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies appropriate for kids

Rating: 12

Running Length: 144 mins

Starring: Richard Armitage, Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen

Genre: Action/Adventure

REVIEW

The third instalment of ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy and possibly Peter Jackson’s final movie set in Middle Earth, ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ certainly goes out with a bang! Where the first two movies struggled to stretch their stories over their three-hour run times, this movie thankfully packs everything in – continuing the exciting story, tying up all plot threads and includes some dialogue to continue the canon of The Lord of the Rings without anything feeling rushed.

With less childish moments and more adult themes of corruption and betrayal, ‘Battle of the Five Armies’ gets the balance right between realistic fight scenes and exciting but non-gory action for kids to keep every audience member gripped from start to finish. While the movie is definitely action-packed, plenty of space is also given flesh out the characters and explore more complex personalities that have previously been a little lacking. Thorin’s decline into paranoia and greed is an interesting twist since he has otherwise mostly been seen as an honourable and trustworthy leader. The acting from all the cast is superb and Martin Freeman is excellent as the innocent but brave hobbit, Bilbo, who is constantly out of his depth but rises to the challenges that he faces.

Whether or not you have enjoyed the first two Hobbit movies, ‘An Unexpected Journey’ and ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, you cannot fail to get pumped up by the energy bursting out of ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’. This is especially true if you liked ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy and ‘Battle’ forges an excellent link between the two trilogies. The mixture of action, plot and characterisation has been perfectly put together to make a memorable and fitting farewell to Middle Earth.

IS ‘THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

Following on from the previous movie, ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, where Smaug left the mountain hell-bent on vengeance against the inhabitants of nearby Lake Town, ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ begins with Smaug exacting his revenge. He swoops in on the town breathing fire and using his wings and body to destroy buildings while the people below him scream and flee in terror. His fury and determination to kill so many people could be quite frightening for some kids and, although very little death is shown on-screen, it is made clear that hundreds of people are killed. Smaug speaks to one person saying ‘Is that your child? You cannot save him from the fire, he will burn’.

One ‘good’ character is forced to summon a great amount of strength to send an enemy away; they change from looking angelic to demonic, with a ghostly green light around them and black shadows around their eyes. This lasts for around 1-2 minutes and could be too intense for a lot of young children.

One character struggles to remain focused on what really matters and, when a friend betrays him for the greater good, he attempts to throw him from a great height which is very likely to kill him. This character also tells another that ‘life is cheap’ when faced with the choice of helping those who have come to fight their enemies.

The battle takes up the majority of the movie and from when it begins, the violence is fairly constant but not too strong. Several orcs are beheaded but this is done quickly and there is very little blood. One orc is stabbed through the top of their head, and, although there is no blood, this is during a pivotal fight and is therefore quite graphic. Several established characters are killed, leading to some emotional grief from their loved ones.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

This excellent finale to Peter Jackson’s time in Middle Earth fully encapsulates everything that we loved about ‘The Lord of the Rings’ while remaining true to its origins as a children’s story. Although there are some emotional moments throughout, the knowledge that this is the end of an era adds an extra touch of poignancy when the credits roll and Billy Boyd’s song, ‘The Last Farewell’ plays.

Kids are bound to love the energy and action which takes over the movie but the complexities of the characters will keep adults gripped as well. We feel that due to the realistic fight scenes and the aggression of the enemies, this film may not be appropriate for kids under the age of 7.

  • Violence: 3/5 (this movie certainly lives up to its name of ‘The Battle of the Five Armies’ but the strength of the violence is actually minimal. There is little blood or gore and, when something is seen in close up, it is quick and not particularly graphic. The death of one established character is fairly strong, with some build up and when they are stabbed, the blade goes in quite slowly. This is done in front of someone who cares for this character and their shock and grief are shown in slow motion)
  • Emotional Distress: 3/5
  • Fear Factor: 3/5 (The orcs are often quite frightening, roaring and screeching in close-up. There are several moments where the situation seems bleak and it is unclear how good will triumph over evil)
  • Sexual Content: 1/5 (one male character dresses as a woman and hides gold coins down his top, this has the effect of looking like he has large breasts which he ‘adjusts’ when he stands up)
  • Bad Language: 2/5 (one character uses some mild curse words)
  • Dialogue: 2/5  
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of friendship, trust, betrayal, loyalty, courage when the odds are stacked against you and how greed can corrupt even the best of people.

Words by Laura Record

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