The Battle of The Five Armies Extended Edition Review!

Thorin chargeAn Extended Cut that fixes many issues but remains slightly inconsistent

Here it is folks! The long-awaited review of the extended edition of The Battle of the Five Armies is here.

Don’t expect a long discussion for now; just a quick look at each extended scene.

A few mild spoilers follow, in case you haven’t yet seen it.

***

Overview

My advice to anyone who has yet to see this extended cut is not expect any of those in-depth, story-laden scenes found in The Lord of the Rings.

Instead we get a a few additional action sequences sprinkled throughout the film. Most of them are exquisite and intense, but others feel too much like a series of prolonged visual gags.Hobbit BOTFA EE (header)

Regrettably, most of the Dwarves’ personalities remain in the shadows, and it’s unfortunate that precious minutes which could have shown us more of their characteristics and motivations, were instead occasionally used to show an extra shot or two of an individual, or the camera lingering for a few more seconds on someone’s face.

That said, most of the new 20 minutes of footage enhances and “beefs up” the central narrative of this film: which is ultimately the development and resolution of the titular battle.

Fire and Water

There’s nothing much to state here expect for an additional three or four shots of Bard in a spot of bother at the mercy of Smaug. This entire sequence was beautifully done and required no extra scenes. Nonetheless, with this extended cut, it somehow feels more complete and satisfying.

The Guardians of the Three

What’s so disappointing about this sequence is not what’s new about it, it’s what has surely been left on the cutting floor. Forget the rescue of a tortured Beorn or a more physical Sauron-Galadriel confrontation. Instead we get some interesting insight into Gandalf being one of the bearers of the Rings of Power at the hands of the Dol Guldur torturer; which, intriguingly, allows us a closer inspection on the original Azog design.

Dol Guldur (Ringwraiths)

The addition of more astounding Ringwraith-fighting shots and a humorous Radagast moment handing over his staff to Gandalf, are a welcome sight to the undeveloped Dol Guldur subplot: which unfortunately was never given the right amount of attention once the filmmakers introduced it into the main story of The Hobbit.

Bilbo and Bofur’s Conversation

Another one of those long-rumoured scenes has actually made it to the extended cut. Recalling back the moment at the start of the quest in An Unexpected Journey, Bofur again spots Bilbo sneaking off from the Company. Misunderstanding Bilbo’s quest to resolve the issues between the Elves and Dwarves, it is a beautiful little scene that completes the circle on the relationship between the hobbit and the Company.

Thorin on the Ramparts

Richard Armitage’s stellar performance is allowed some more screen time to shine, as Thorin ponders on whether to accept Bard and Thranduil’s deal in exchange for the Arkenstone. His earnest and agitation, pacing to and fro the battlements, whilst relying on the arrival of Dáin, is a testament to the actor’s skills.

Just as he’s about to give in and reconsider the deal, the arrival of the Raven dispels any other thoughts of parley: making the bird’s entrance even more significant after having seen those crucial moments a few seconds before.

Arrival of Dáin

Undoubtedly my favourite extended scene of this film. In a completely reworked sequence from the theatrical cut, the Iron Hills contingent comes armed to the brim with ballistas and rams (explaining their sudden appearance later on in the film).

BOTFA EE - Dain and Dwarf Rams

Gorgeous and utterly striking, the fierce skirmish between the Elves and the Dwarves beautifully filled in for the previously lacking gravitas prior to the start of the real battle against the orcs. Having the two races stop their mortal bickering to fight a common enemy just gave this sequence some much needed depth and purpose.

I am so glad that this made it into the cut.

Charge of the Dwarves

Peter Jackson can’t stay away from creating funny gags even during the most intense of moments. Bofur climbing onto the blind troll and wrecking havoc among the orcs is both amusing and slightly discomforting: mainly due to its “jarriness” when it comes to the severity of the situation.

Some light moments here and there are fine, but when a scene goes overboard it begins to turn from humorous to ridiculous.

Chariot Chase

Certainly my second favourite moment from this extended edition!

Just like the Dwarves-Elves confrontation, Jackson proves his mastery at close-quarter, visceral battle scenes. The moment four Dwarves lead away a troll, and are in turn attacked by Wargs and Orcs, is fast-paced and brilliantly executed.

BOTFA EE - Dwarven Chariot

What makes this even more fun to watch is that no matter how ridiculous it may sound or look, this scene is actually far from being an “over the top moment”. Unlike Legolas’ gravity-defying feats, this chariot chase actually remains grounded (literally) to a realistic portrayal of physics.

So don’t expect exaggerated jumping or impossible maneuvers. It’s a much needed Dwarven moment during the battle, including an emotional piece of dialogue between Dwalin and Balin.

If only Peter Jackson could have extended this Dwarven relationship with all the others!

Bifur, Bofur and Bombur

Speaking of Dwarven relationships, we finally get to witness another moment where three of our characters are given some much-needed screen time.

Bifur losing his axe and Bombur’s one-liner gave life to these otherwise obscure characters, and is one of the reasons I find most frustrating and confusing. Couldn’t Jackson have sprinkled these character moments throughout the entire trilogy, so that by the end of this film we would have known each member of the Company a little bit more?

Alfrid’s Death

Another one of those gags that was long speculated. Thankfully, it’s over pretty quickly soon and its banality is eased off by the presence of Gandalf, attempting to fight off a troll by wielding his newly-earned staff.

More Legolas

Moving swiftly on …BOTFA EE - Legolas on Bat 2

Funeral Scene

We all knew it was bound to appear. Although too brief for my liking, the scene is emotionally charged as each member of the Company gets to say goodbye in a tear-inducing series of shots accompanied by Shore’s haunting music of the Durin theme.

What I learnt

No matter how much I tried to keep my expectations low prior to this extended cut, I couldn’t resist feeling excited about all the speculations, rumours and confirmed footage shot of Beorn, Radagast, Sauron, the Dwarves and others, that could have potentially made it into this release.

BOTFA EE - Attack on Lake-town

Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed at the gaping hole left behind. True, all of these scenes couldn’t have made their way into 20 minutes worth of footage. Perhaps, my viewing experience was somewhat distracted by the constant “ticking off” of said minutes as a new shot or scene popped up on screen. I found myself mentally calculating the duration of each extended moment and kept on hoping there was more and more.

I’m sure that a second and third viewing will ease off that disappointment.

I am already happy with this cut (a definitive improvement on many scenes from the original), so I am certainly not complaining! 😀

Have you seen the Extended Edition? Has Jackson earned your respect or shattered it?

Copyright of images belongs to Warner Bros. and MGM Studios.

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44 thoughts on “The Battle of The Five Armies Extended Edition Review!

  1. It’s a shame that this didn’t fix all of your complaints, but I wonder how possible/easy it would have been to include all the extra Dwarf characterisation/sub-plots you wanted. It seems academic if it’s just one or two characters, but if you need to do that for 12 characters then it could obliterate the pacing and structure (or obliterate it even more, depending on who you ask). Not saying you’re wrong about this in this slightest, I’m just not sure… In any case, Jackson, Walsh and Boyens gave the Dwarves a lot more individual character than Tolkien ever did, so I’m grateful for that at least.

    Anyway, I’m really looking forward to the Blu-ray release. The biggest problems with the theatrical version were the lack of coherence for the battle, and some things that were left unresolved, and the EE seems to tackle both of those head on.

    Of course, the main reason I’m excited is that I’ve been holding off on getting *any* of the Extended Editions until the box set is out, so come November 17th I’m going to be seeing A LOT of special features in a short space of time. Fingers crossed they include Smaug’s interview on The Colbert Report somewhere in there!

    • Hey Jack, I certainly wouldn’t expect the other 12 dwarves to have the same screen presence and exposition as Thorin – but I still would have liked some little insights throughout the films on each character. Though I agree, at least they did get some exposure unlike in the book 🙂

      • Yeah, I figured you were hoping the other Dwarves would get screen time on the level of Balin or Bofur. It would have been great if that had happened. 🙂

  2. I’m not sure why, but when I go on Barnes & Noble’s website, I cannot seem to find the Extended Edition. I buy it from them every year. What I think is the extended version has no image listed so I’m not sure. I will buy the individual movie now, but not the Hobbit box set. I will wait until (probably in a few years) for the ultimate box set with both the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

  3. I’ve only seen low quality clips if this on Youtube. But I agree, more Dain footage is certainly welcome (there were actually some moments where I get the King vibe emanating from him) and I also surprisingly enjoyed the chariot chase, which is absolutely awesome and never approached the cartooniness of, say, the Goblin Tunnels (we all know Legolas is a way too obvious reference). 🙂

  4. I really liked this version. It provided some much needed closure for some of the dwarves in the brief funeral / coronation scene and also gave each dwarf a heroic moment in battle (even if some of them were a bit silly). The battle feels much more logical, from the initial fight between the dwarves and elves to the wild ride to Ravenhill. If you had problems with BOFA before, it won’t fix any of those issues but I think it does help round things out. More time with Galadriel and Radagast are always welcome. And those few extra seconds of Beorn make me wish for many more!

  5. Thanks for the review – I mostly feel the same way about the extended release.

    A note for those thinking of buying the extended edition from iTunes: as best I can tell, there’s no commentary track. The appendices are there, and that’s good, but I also usually find the commentaries quite interesting when they talk about how they did the writing.

    But one added complication: in the theatrical version, I was left wondering how on earth Dwalin had survived the final battle. The extended edition didn’t explain that, and has added the same question about Balin.

  6. I thought I was going to be somehow disappointed by the EE, given the relatively small amount of extra minutes (if we compare it with any other The Hobbit film or the Lord of the Rings ones, no less).

    I watched it yesterday evening with a friend and I must say I was completely wrong. Man, BOTFA is pure entertainment. As some say, this cut gives a real closure to the dwarves; the battle scenes are better connected; more BEORN!!!; more Legolas being a kickarse; etc. Hell, even Alfrid’s death was awesome (in a very Alfrid-esque way).

    Sure, the extended edition could easily be improved by adding small details (more emphasis in all the dwarves, longer funeral/coronation scenes (I’m not sure I liked how both were connected, although I can understand why they made them that way) [it left me with the same feeling I had about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’s lack of Dumbledore’s funeral the first time I watched it]. But I think all the added details make the Battle of the Five Armies’s Extended Cut a really good film.

  7. I was looking forward for your review for a long time and at last I got it! Just to confess… I have not yet seen the movie, but obviously have seen almost every extended scene of it and glad at least few speculation came out to be true (though the fact that I had expected too much, but its fine) I hope if you would list out the scenes shown in Appendices, but didn’t include in the final cut.

  8. I’m yet to watch it…but I knew already what would happen as they had the extended trilogy out in cinemas in the US and there were plenty spoilers on the internet. I can’t wait to get my hands on it myself to watch, and shout for joy that Alfrid doesn’t survive (horrible I know but I never liked him!). It’s disappointing the funeral scene isn’t longer though.
    Sorry…I didn’t quite catch what more of Legolas there is in the film though, I know how much you love his stunts 😛 I jest!

    • For Legolas, if you really wanted to know the answer: I think one extra scene is when he’s hanging upside down from the bat, daggers extended. The bat flies him down the middle of a two-abreast column of orcs, and he decapitates the whole lot of them. I didn’t remember that from the original cut, although it’s also the kind of thing I’d have blacked out from my memory.

      I so clearly remember seeing “The Two Towers” in the theatre, when it was first released, and laughing with delight when Legolas did that fancy jump onto the horse. That moment was a wonderful beautiful surprise. And it has led to such a horrible, horrible end.

      Alfrid’s death does make his arc (?!) somewhat more bearable. I don’t mean that’s any more enjoyable, but at least there’s now a (rather dumb) moral lesson that makes his presence seem a bit less pointless.

      What I don’t think has come up: the chariot scene is probably what pushed the rating up to an R. And it’s for silly reasons: a lot more of the orcs go splat and sploosh and squish, rather than just dead. Blood and entrails projectile spew. It’s not terribly gory by any means, but it seems gratuitous and, most importantly, completely out of place with the rest of the movie.

      My general assessment: the added minutes with the dwarves in the battle were welcome – at least most of them get some more lines. The fact that the good guys won makes slightly more sense in the EE, but still not really logical – Bolg’s whole army seemed to number a hundred, if that, and it still seemed like the battle went from insurmountable odds with a jump to the eagles and Beorn mopping up.

      I’m glad the funeral was added, but it was still sort of a weird scene – rather than a ceremony, it just seemed like a bunch of people milling about. Very glad the coronation was there, because at least there was some kind of ending for Lonely Mountain storyline. No closure whatsoever for Thranduil and the Lonely Mountain. No digging up the troll hoard.

      What was new with Bofur/Bilbo on the ramparts? I could tell that the dialogue was longer, but I couldn’t remember enough to identify what was different.

      • Thanks for the extra info 🙂 I’m not really fussed about Legolas to be honest, he gradually became more and more like an acrobat, they could have shaved a couple minutes of his fights and used it for something else. I just know from a previous post James isn’t Legolas’ biggest fan, just as I’m not Alfrid’s biggest fan.

        The beauty of the LOTR EE versions were that they added so much depth and beauty to the scenes, not to mention Howard Shore’s amazing music. I can’t even watch the theatrical versions anymore without feeling there are chunks missing. I hope it’ll be the same with BOFTA.

  9. I actually rather enjoyed the extended edition and felt it was one of the best extended cuts outside of The Return of the King and Fellowship of the Ring. Unfortunatly, Warner Bros. are complete greedy assholes and cut 10 minutes of footage out without asking Jackson’s permission, including Beorn’s torture scene, Evangeline Lilly’s favorite Tauriel scene and some more Dol Guldur stuff.

    But thanks to Germany we might be able to see it
    https://www.change.org/p/warner-bros-pictures-add-all-scenes-30-minutes-of-footage-to-the-botfa-extended-edition?source_location=petitions_share_skip

  10. Wait, I thought we’d be getting more scenes of Saruman confronting Sauron in Mordor? I remember Jackson saying there would be much more Saruman in the EE. This was what I was most looking forward to, as I really felt that was a HUGE plot hole in the film, that the White Council would just assume Sauron was dead for good. It makes the heroes look like utter idiots.

    • Nope, nothing of the sort. Now I must confess that I haven’t seen the Appendices and Special Features, but apparently there’s a wealth of deleted/unfinished scenes there that never ended up in the EE. So who knows …

  11. I was looking very forward to see this film, simply because the regular version was missing so much. Now we got the extended version, and I got the same thing. I was very disappointed in this film, but there were also some great moments (especially the funeral.) but overall it still felt incomplete. I mean come on! We didn’t need more battle scenes or more Legolas stunts!

    There are two deleted scenes that I have witnessed that were not in the extended version, but they were perfect! And fully rendered as well. Such as the scene with Bilbo planting his acorn in dale, and a brief mention of Thranduil’s wife. THESE are the scenes I needed to see!

    But here’s what disappointed me the most that I can’t stress enough…Tauriel’s fate.
    They completly ignored her character after the whole “it was real” part…what the hell? You can’t do that! I sencerely hope there is at least a deleted scene telling of what happens to her.

    • I came looking for info on Tauriel’s fate. When I started seening pics of the funeral pop out on my feed I had a shred of hope that they would show what happened to her in the end. Elves die from a broken heart… but a little confirmation on her perhaps leaving for Valinor, moving on/surviving or wasting away would have been appreciated. Hell, I was hoping that perhaps she could have returned herself the runestone to Dis right after the funeral. -ARGH-

  12. I’ve had a good look into the Extended cut (actually, I’ve written it’s subtitles, but whatever) and I plan to watch again within two days time, but than again I am a fan of Sir Peter Jackson’s adaptions, almost as much as I am of the written original.

    I think the entire terminology of “Extended Edition” is wrong. It’s the “full edition” and the cinematic cut is in fact a “cut”, as it were. All The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings “extended” editions feel like more complete creations, where the cinematic version feels chopped down.

    This one does not fall short of this view. Yes, there were deleted scenes that could have made it into the cut, but if you dig back to wonderful deleted scenes on the previous films and on the Lord of The Rings, you would probably get a headace. I’ll wager there is enough material there for a whole film the length of The Two Towers.

    To me as a translator, it is also important that these movies are clear to none-Tolkienists. These viewers, once viewing the cinematic release, might be led to assume that Balin would succed Thorin, rather than Dain whom they might not remember from his single mention in An Unexpected Journey.

    Same goes for the Ring of Fire. This is really to be appreciated when you watch The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings is sequence and in that order. You come to know that there are three Elven Rings, but you only become fully aware of one of them.

    Seeing Narya and recognising it as such, and thus beneficial to the understanding of the simple viewer, especially since it’s the only Elven Ring not currently held by and Elf, and it gives another dimension to Gandalf’s interest in the Ring of Power and his battle of wits with Sauron.

    The other useful thing about this is that it plants some confusion for the ordinary viewer as for the Rings of Power all together. I watch the movies with people who are not proficient in Tolkien’s lore, so when watching the whole six movies, it pays for dramatic effect not to disclose the role of the One Ring untill the Fellowship of the Ring prologue. Throwing more rings, including Narya, Nenya and Thrain’s Ring, into the mix, does just that.

    I do have to comment briefly on the whole Legolas issue. To me, having seen Legloas climb an Oliphaunt, and having read of Legloas (cannon) walking practically barefoot on soft snow and running on a tight rope – makes me indifferent to the stunt he pulls of in The Hobbit.

    I also find his general presence to be canon. Being older than Gimli who is sixty at the time of the quest, he would have been present, and from how he speaks of Dol Guldur and how he mentions the Battle of the Five Armies in the council of Elrond it seems that he was indeed there.

    I also really enjoy Armitage’s acting, making Thorin II perhaps the most lordly character ever to appear on the big screen, surpassing (and it pains me to say this) Mortensen’s deciption of Aragon Telkontar. So for me giving him more screen time on the rampant, at the battle and post mortem, is gratified.

    • Some great thoughts Chen, thanks for sharing. I really like your idea of call this the “full edition” rather than “extended”. It certainly feels like it.

  13. i went to an advanced screening of the extended edition last month, and i have to say it was much better than the theatrical cut. all those missing scenes really made the difference. this isn’t to say i didn’t like the theatrical release, but the extended editions always bring more depth and beauty to the story. now obviously, there’s still some stuff that needs to be addressed: what happens to Bard after everything is over…does he go back to his daily life as a single father trying to provide for three teenagers? and Tauriel…yes, she wasn’t in the book, but the writers had to come up with some sort of exit strategy for her. basically, the last we see if she’s on a cliff weeping over Kili’s dead body. she may be a work of fiction, but she still needed some form of closure. there was also no indication of how/when/why Saruman switches over to Team Sauron. he basically just says “leave Sauron to me”, as if he’s getting into a bar fight with a guy three times his size. there could have been more development here, too. but all in all, i was pleased with the end result.

  14. sorry but I’m confused — more Beorn? There was about 3 more seconds in the battle, and one shot of him watching at the funeral. That’s it! Nothing else. Peter Jackson’s sole comment last year was that this EE would have “more Beorn stuff.” Where was the Beorn stuff?! So, Radagast and Beorn are just magically absent and never mentioned in the next 3 films, with no explanation of where they went. So disappointing.

  15. Great review. I too loved this extended edition and felt that it greatly tied the film together. My main complaint was that we still didn’t get more Beorn in battle. That’s THE image of the battle of the five armies from the book, a vast bear battling hordes of orcs, and it just felt so glossed over in the film. Deeply disappointed. All in all, though, still really enjoyed it all.

  16. This is a great write up! Sums it up pretty damn well …

    Overall, I agree that this quite clearly wasn’t enough. I was always expecting more … something more meaningful. This was personified in the funeral scene. Great set up, great music, quite emotional but waaaayyyy tooo short!? My god it feels so rushed it’s horrible.

    The extended scenes in the battle are fun and do help give the film some more power. I really enjoyed the chariot scene – that was awesome.

    As this review quite rightly pointed out – a lot of it was very gimmicky and I hated that. There’s no need. If you cut half of Alfrid’s scenes this could of been avoided. Good character but way to over used. God knows why.

    I was really hoping this extended would change some of my perceptions with the last outing into Middle Earth from Jackson but the my fears were met with reality when I realised it really wasn’t. This is so far from anything LOTR accomplished it’s scary and sad. The Hobbit feels like so much more of a throw away film than LOTR and it’s frustrating that they had to rush through so much of the production.

    Silmarillion anyone?

  17. Why the hell wasn’t the extended cut the theatrical cut ! it’s actually shorter than the theatrical cut of An Unexpected Journey ! This is another crazy decision by Jackson…..

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