Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Reviewed By

L. Sue
What would you do for a mountain full of gold?

The Hobbit: The Battle of the 5 Armies picks up where the Desolation of Smaug leaves off- Thorin and Company have reached the mountain, the men of Lake Town are being pursued by Smaug- and oh yes, Smaug is angry and raining fire on everyone. Before the opening credits roll, Smaug is gone, leaving all the gold for Thorin. Now by all rights, the gold should be divided up amongst the company- 13 dwarves, 1 Master Burglar hobbit, and the men of Lake Town. The folks of Lake Town aren't asking for an equal share, just enough to rebuild, as Thorin had promised for their assistance. Thorin is blinded by the gold, wanting to give none of it up to the men of Lake Town. Proving there is no honor among thieves, Thorin screams that this much gold is worth war, worth much bloodshed and many deaths. What would YOU do for a mountain full of gold?

So the men of Lake Town are one army, and they are in line to get gold to rebuild. Their home was completely destroyed by Smaug's attack, they flee to Dale, in the shadow of the mountain for shelter. Their claim to the gold seems reasonable, they aided Thorin in his time of need, and now they are in need of the gold to restore their home. Not to mention, it was a man from Lake Town, Bard, who killed the evil Smaug. Doesn't that count for something? Unfeeling Thorin is not swayed by such arguments, even when Bard points out that there is an army of Elves waiting to descend on the mountain and forcibly take the gold. Wouldn't it be better for Thorin to just give the men the gold? Thorin is unchanged- no gold for the men of Lake Town.

Now the Elves of Mirkwood are involved because they too have a claim to treasures of the mountain. Thranduil comes bearing food and water for the refugee men of Lake Town, and an army of Woodland Elves to reclaim the Elven jewels hidden in the mountains of gold. The jewels were stolen from Thranduil's ancestors, and he just wants the jewels to go back to their rightful heir, him.
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Does the story sound familiar- I'm starting to wonder which ancestor Smaug didn't rob from. And what was he doing with all this treasure anyways? He's a dragon, aside from hoarding it, he wasn't using itů.but back to the ensuing battle. In the face of such overwhelming odds and a friend so blinded by gold he can't see he's about to lose, Bilbo goes to Thranduil and Bard with a proposition. Bilbo has the Arkenstone, the heart of the mountain, it is what he took as his cut of the loot. He's willing to give it to Thranduil and Bard in exchange for no war with Thorin, whom Bilbo assumes will give up the gold for the Arkenstone. Bard and Thranduil, riding a very regal moose, go to reason with Thorin, who remains unswayed. He is blinded by the gold and his faith in his cousin- that his fellow dwarves will rise to the occasion and defend him. And sure enough, next to the party is Cousin Dain riding an appropriately chosen boar. Just when this party was getting started, in comes the Orcs to ruin a perfectly reasonable battle. The Orcs don't appear to have any lost gold or jewels in the mountain, they just want to kill. Be it man, elf, or dwarf, it really doesn't matter to these Orcs whose blood is spilt.

So the battle rages on, with Elves and Dwarves temporarily putting aside their differences to go kill some Orcs. Thorin remains holed up, seemingly content to have others fight for him while he remains (relatively) safe in the mountain castle.  After being betrayed by Bilbo, yelled at by his own company, and guilt tripped by Gandalf, the gold fever still rages on in Thorin. Only when the Orcs are surging forward does it occur to Thorin that he needs to be out there on the battle field. He has really been one terrible king of the mountain, and it has only been a few days into his reign. Out Thorin snaps from his gold fever, realizing that no amount of gold is worth this amount of destruction, bloodshed, and death.  He also comes with a plan, which up until now seemed elusive. Kill the head Orc, now why didn't anyone else on the battlefield come up with such a plan?

More bloodshed and death ensues, and at the end of all the fighting, I realized- I finally did care about the struggles of the dwarves. In my review of Desoluation of Smaug I commented that I Just couldn't get that interested in the dwarves struggle, which seems so minor when compared to the evil Sauron was unleashing in LOTR. However, I stand corrected. Each life is valuable, be it dwarf, elf, or man. Each story of injustice that is not righted is a wrong we collectively share, because all it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing. And despite men, dwaves, and elves doing something, evil still rose. For the end of an era, the third hobbit goes out with style, bringing it full circle. There was a nice Segway into LOTR, with references to Strider, cameos of SarumanGaladriel, and Elrond.  I bid thee farewell Middle Earth, you will live forever on DVD (and in books).
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