Before I start with details, I’d just like to say a few things to keep in mind and just a general thought. I learnt awhile back something I believe is integral with any book to movie adaptation. These are two entirely different forms of media and as such they have to be viewed differently. What I mean is that much of the description and inner dialogue/feelings within a book is lost. You cannot, unless you do voice-overs, translate that in the same way. The description of the scenery must be shown, as well as that inner dialogue (often conflict) and feelings, which need to be seen on the actor’s faces. Furthermore, with any adaptation there will be certain things that must be left out or shortened in order to maintain a respectable run-time. Finally, there may be things that need added or otherwise altered in order to get a point across or to allow for fluidity, among other reasons. So really, book and their movie adaptations must be treated as separate entities—otherwise no one would ever leave a theatre feeling satisfied. The thought that I would like to mention here is that, should anything I write (ahem, my current work-in-progress) be adapted into a movie I would very much like Peter Jackson to direct and whatnot. As far as adaptations go, his work with Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have been the best that I’ve seen and I have walked away more satisfied with these than any others.
But now, for what I thought of the final Hobbit movie.
Overall, I think that the film was well-executed from start to finish. The scene with Bard and Smaug was exceptional, particularly with the addition of Bard’s son and Smaug in the background. Other standout scenes for me were Bilbo’s escape to Bard, Thranduil, and Gandalf with the Arkenstone, as well as the small battle on Ravenhill (I won’t spoil what happens there, but it does tug on your heartstrings).
There are some things that people would consider discrepancies, and in some cases they are partially correct. The first, flowing throughout all of the three Hobbit films, is the part that Legolas plays. He does not physically appear in the books, but it is entirely plausible that he would be there since Thranduil is his father. He does not appear by name, I think, because Lord of the Rings was not only written after the Hobbit, but there was never intended to be a “sequel” of any kind to The Hobbit in the first place.
The second item, specific to the final film, is Alfrid, the “right-hand” to the late Master of Lake-Town. Again, this is a character not specifically named in the book. The character Alfrid is supposed to represent, I believe, is a simple councilor to the Master of Lake-Town as described in the book. The only thing I cannot confirm at the present moment is if he has as big of a role in the book as he does within the film (I would have to read the book again to be sure), although I’m not bothered as it does provide some lightheartedness to the film. What is often forgotten, I feel, is that The Hobbit is intended to be a children’s book, so it stands to reason that the film should have some moments to lift it up amidst the battles and bloodshed.
The last thing I would like to address about the plot that is shown onscreen is the fact that there is additional material that many people will see as “made-up”. In reality, this is not the case. It is true that some scenes are not in The Hobbit itself, but they are still considered canon within the Middle Earth universe. There is a ton of material contained with the Appendices that are found at the end of Lord of the Rings (with Return of the King, for when the three volumes are separated), quite a bit of which has been integrated into The Battle of the Five Armies (and, frankly, the other two films as well, although this is not readily apparent). This includes the scenes with the Necromancer, Galadriel, Elrond, Gandalf, Saruman, as well as some set up to Aragorn, among other things. I do not, unfortunately, have an eidetic memory so it’s hard to pinpoint absolutely everything, but I can recognize quite a bit. For instance, Gandalf isn’t featured as much in The Hobbit—he goes off to do his own thing and it isn’t really shown. In addition, sending Legolas off to the Dúnedain to find Strider is part of a perfect bridge to Lord of the Rings. As the astute will know, Strider is actually Aragorn who eventually becomes the King of Gondor in Lord of the Rings. In addition, that also sets up Legolas knowing about him during Elrond’s council in Rivendell during Fellowship of the Ring. A second piece of the perfect bridge is the scene at Dol-Guldur with the Nine and Galadriel’s banishment of the Necromancer (the giant eye, as it is revealed the Necromancer is Sauron). This sets up Sauron’s intense search for the One Ring in Lord of the Rings really well.
I love this additional footage into the film for a number of reasons. One is because I love Tolkien’s work, and integrating more of it into the film is always nice. Furthermore, the fact that adding in these scenes and information provides a bridge is great. I know that The Hobbit was never meant to have a sequel, but it does exist. I also have a really big plan for when this final Hobbit film is released on DVD (hopefully with an extended version). I really want to watch every single one of the Hobbit films and the Lord of the Rings films in order from start to finish as a movie marathon. Which, by the way, will require me staying awake for at least 24 hours straight. The bridge that Peter Jackson has provided will allow them to flow together instead of it being like I am watching two separate film trilogies.
Another thing that I would like to mention, and I have pointed out before when talking about the previous two films is the beautiful cinematography. While some scenes were filmed in a studio, the majority were shot in New Zealand and it is really unaltered New Zealand that you are seeing when a sweeping landscape or a mountain is shown on the screen. This was only magnified for me while watching The Battle of the Five Armies, particularly when Bilbo returns to The Shire. Why? Simply because I know that in a few months I will be standing in the Shire, in Hobbiton, and seeing the beauty of New Zealand with my own two eyes.
Finally, the credits were absolutely beautiful and probably the best that I’ve seen with the drawings of the characters and the map, et cetera. Not to mention the song performed by Billy Boyd (Peregrin Took, Pippin, in the Lord of the Rings films). I am pretty sure that it brought a tear to my eye.
All in all, however, I think that Peter Jackson did a wonderful job with bringing Middle Earth to life. And with The Hobbit? He brought us there and back again, all tied up in a pretty little bow—just in time for Christmas.