Peter Jackson’s conclusion to The Hobbit trilogy – and potentially the filmmaker’s final Middle-earth movie – arrives this December, in the shape of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy/adventure is being sold as not just the big conclusion to the Hobbit trilogy’s over-arching narrative and numerous subplots, but also the “defining” chapter in Jackson’s Middle-earth saga that lays groundwork for the Lord of the Rings trilogy that, chronologically, takes place after Bilbo Baggins’ (and his dwarf companions’) journey to the Lonely Mountain.
Battle of the Five Armies, judging by the presence of characters glimpsed in both the official trailer and the cast banner, will be bringing everything that transpired in the first two Hobbit installments (a.k.a. An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug) full-circle at last. As such, characters like Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) and Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) will become more important, as the eponymous battle – which pits the forces of darkness and light in Middle-earth against one another for control of Erebor – gets underway, following Smaug’s attack on Laketown.
Meanwhile, members of the White Council – which includes Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Elrond (Hugo Weaving), and Saruman the White (Christopher Lee) – will be called upon again, in order to deal with the now very-real threat of Sauron that Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) warned them about in An Unexpected Journey. As you can see below, a number of these characters have already gotten their own poster for Battle of the Five Armies over the past week (with more likely to come in the days ahead), along with Martin Freeman as the young Bilbo.
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The Mirkwood elves Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) have also received their own posters, as part of the Battle of the Five Armies marketing push. Tauriel, of course, is not part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so her story will be done and finished in this next film, for all intents and purposes. Legolas, however, becomes a much bigger player in the Rings narrative, so it’ll be interesting to see how the third Hobbit movie concludes Tauriel’s storyline while also further charting Legolas’ evolution into the character we see in The Fellowship of the Ring (and further away from the mindset of his father King Thranduil, played by Lee Pace).
It’ll likewise be interesting to see how Battle of the Five Armies affects general opinion on the Hobbit trilogy as a whole, seeing how the reception’s been far more mixed than it was for Jackson’s Rings films. Most people will probably still prefer Frodo’s journey over Bilbo’s at the end of the day, but if Jackson finishes his Hobbit trilogy on a strong note then it could improve the outlook towards his decision to split Tolkien’s Hobbit source novel into three movies to begin with.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies opens in theaters on December 17th, 2014.