[Update: The final Battle of the Five Armies trailer is online!]
We’re down to the last two months of 2014, and with them comes the final wave of tentpoles and big-budget offerings for the year. December’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is not just one of the big studio epics on the way, it’s also a true “event film” in the sense that it concludes both director Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movie trilogy and his six-part Middle-earth cinematic saga (which began thirteen years ago with Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring novel).
The second (and final) Battle of the Five Armies trailer drops tomorrow (at the time of writing this) and will likely be shown in theaters ahead of select prints for Interstellar (opening in select IMAX theaters today). In the meantime, we can offer some images from the film, along with some insight from Jackson on what distinguishes this Hobbit adventure from its Middle-earthean predecessors.
Battle of the Five Armies promises to be something of a non-stop ride, between the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) descending upon the residents of Laketown as he set out to do in the cliffhanger ending to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; the other members of the White Council, including Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and Saruman the White (Christopher Lee), setting out to assist Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and banish The Necromancer/Sauron before he can recover his full strength; and various races of Middle-earth (dwarves, elves, orcs, etc.) assembling for a massive fight to take control of the Lonely Mountain, now that Smaug has been driven out.
Jackson explained to USA Today that as Battle of the Five Armies starts “Everybody’s where they need to be, there’s no new characters, all cards are on the table.” That should be welcome news for those who were less impressed with the first two Hobbit installments, An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug, because they’re essentially extended road trip adventures – where Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his dwarf companions go from one escapade to another – that were also dedicated to setting all the pieces into place before the grand finale begins.
The final Hobbit chapter, by comparison, is more of a straight-cut thriller; as Jackson put it, “It’s my ‘All the President’s Men’ – or the closest I’m ever going to get.” For a sneak peek at that (ahead of the new trailer launch), check out the Battle of the Five Armies screenshots included below.
Battle of the Five Armies won’t attempt to match Return of the King in terms of stakes, simply because the latter involved a fight for (literally) the fate of Middle-earth. That said, trailer footage unveiled to date supports co-screenwriter Philippa Boyens’ claim that the events in the last Hobbit film help with “moving toward the darkness” of the Rings trilogy. Jackson and his team also envisioned the actual Battle of the Five Armies (which runs upwards of 45 minutes in screen time) so that the movie’s “principle players” are never lost in the fray; and thus, their final destinies in the film will be all the more emotionally impactful for it.
In short, those who’ve remained invested in the overarching story of Jackson’s The Hobbit cinematic trilogy ought to end up feeling rewarded for their efforts, as Battle of the Five Armies looks to conclude this journey through Middle-earth on a high note. Everyone else on the bandwagon, well, there’s just one more Hobbit film to go…
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies opens in U.S. theaters on December 17th, 2014. Check back here tomorrow for the final trailer launch!