Just like the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, Peter Jackson goes above and beyond in The Hobbit to provide some action-packed battles that will have you on the edge of your seat. Here are 10 of the best battles, plucked from The Hobbit: Extended Editions.
Warning: There are spoilers ahead for those that haven’t seen The Hobbit Trilogy.
Cliffs can become Storm Giants. Who knew? – An Unexpected Journey
Through wind and rain the company travel up and around a cliff edge. Could it get any worse? Of course it can. Trapped on the side of a mountain by the weather, Bilbo and co find themselves under a barrage of giant boulders being tossed towards their cliff by two titanic storm giants – giant golems of stone – who are throwing huge pieces of stone at each other. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the cliff face then splits apart to reveal that it itself is a storm giant! A welcome addition to add sudden drama to break up their journey, Peter Jackson’s use of this set piece – and its incredible scale – helps demonstrate how small the company is in the grand scheme of things. They are a small part of something much, much larger, he tells us: the world of Middle-Earth.
The Battle in Goblin Town. Maybe if he hadn’t started singing…? – An Unexpected Journey
Captured by the Goblins and Goblin King when they fall into their trap, Gandalf arrives, and with his help, the Dwarves fight their way out against overwhelming odds with whatever weapons they can get their hands on. Ladders, bo staffs, boulders, all are of good use here. There’s scaffolding rope-cutting a-plenty to cause havoc for the Goblins, and swinging scaffolding skirmishes to boot. To cap off this great spectacle, the company end up riding some falling scaffolding down a sheer cliff to the cave floor, and put the Goblin King to bed once and for all. And his singing too, thankfully.
Pale Orc, Azog the Defiler lays Thorin low… despite some flaming pinecones – An Unexpected Journey
Chased up trees by the Warg-riding Orcs, Gandalf comes to the company’s aid again by lighting pinecones on fire with the magic from his staff, and having the company toss flaming pinecones at their adversaries to scare them off. Thorin faces off with Azog, the nemesis he thought dead at Moria…but despite his best efforts, is no match for Azog and his fearsome White Warg. Caught in the jaws of the Warg, Thorin is saved from beheading by Bilbo’s bravery, and then the deus ex machina of the fan-favourite Eagles comes to rescue them; called forth by Gandalf.
The Barrel-chase River Escape – Desolation of Smaug
Possibly the first and only instance of a ‘barrel chase’ down a river in film, this laugh-out-loud sequence seems almost like a videogame at times, with the company escaping in empty barrels down the river. Fleeing not just the Elves, but also battling Azog’s lieutenant, Bolg, there’s a lot to take in.
Tauriel and Legolas once again get a chance to show off their martial prowess with bow and blade, wreaking havoc amongst the orc party attempting to kill off Thorin and his kin. The Dwarves, meanwhile, collect elven and orc weapons alike as they rush through the water with nothing but their barrels for protection against blade, arrow, or rocks.
Bombur, the rather rotund member of Thorin’s Dwarven company is launched out of the water in his barrel before landing, shoving his arms through the sides and kicking his legs through bottom of barrel to wield his two axes in a slightly comical, but nevertheless deadly maelstrom around his newly created barrel-armour. Chaos.
Smaug vs The 14 Companions. Seems only fair. – Desolation of Smaug
Leading Smaug into the Dwarven forges of Erebor inside the mountain, Thorin sets a trap. Tricking Smaug into lighting the Dwarven forges with his dragon fire, Bilbo then unleashes the water, extinguishing Smaug’s flames as they leave his throat, and starting the working of the forges.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Dwarves throw flash bomb things to stun Smaug, and molten gold runs through to the Gallery of Kings. Smaug gives chase to Thorin and Bilbo, who lead him to their final gambit. Entranced by a statue of a pure molten gold Dwarven king, Smaug is caught by utter surprise when it explodes to cover him in pure, hot molten gold… but Smaug escapes with vengeance on his mind.
Bard the Bowman and the Black Arrow vs a VERY angry Smaug – Battle of the Five Armies
Battle of the Five Armies is 75% battles, so you can imagine the pickings are pretty rich. In this sequence, an enraged Smaug engulfs Laketown in flames, while Bard runs between rooftops to dodge the great beast and reach a vantage point. He fires arrow after arrow at Smaug, but to no avail. Sat atop a largely destroyed wooden bell tower, Bard finally has no arrows left but the deadliest of all: the legendary Black Arrow his son has retrieved for him.
Smaug taunts them, and swoops down for the kill. Bard constructs a large makeshift slingshot-come-crossbow from the bell tower’s wooden structure, and using his son’s shoulder to steady the Black Arrow, waits patiently until the last possible moment before Smaug reaches them… and fires straight into the one area of Smaug’s scales that was weakened. Smaug is felled from the skies, and he crashes to earth, slain at last.
Sorcery afoot: The White Council vs. Sauron and his Ringwraiths in Dol Guldur - Battle of the Five Armies
Meanwhile, Gandalf’s day goes from bad to worse when his Orc jailer casts him out of his cage and tries to claim the Elven Ring of Fire from him. Fortunately, Galadriel appears. “I have come for Gandalf,” she tells the jailer, “if you try to stop me, I will destroy you”…and promptly obliterates the Orc with a flick of her hand; sending magical shockwaves for miles around. Finally, a real display of Galadriel’s true power, so hinted at in the original Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
But it’s not that easy, Galadriel and the wounded Gandalf are soon surrounded by the nine Ringwraiths as she attempts to leave. Outnumbered, Elven Lord Elrond and Saruman the White come to her aid. An epic battle ensues, showing neither are slouches in combat. Galadriel then gets pretty damn angry when facing Sauron, and exerts her will to banish him ‘back to the void’.
The Battle of the Five Armies - Battle of the Five Armies
For starters, Billy Connolly as Dwarven Lord Dain of the Iron Hills on the back of a Boar is brilliant. “Would you all consider… kindly sodding off?!” he explains, before they get down to the business of war. More fun ensues with the introduction of giant ‘twiddly’ arrows, as Dain describes them, which spin in such a manner to chop up the volley of Elven arrows fired towards them. There are also Dwarves on ‘goat back’. Yeah, so apparently that’s a thing.
Orcs and trolls then pop along to join the party, causing the Elves and Dwarves to temporarily join forces against them. Dwarven chariots promptly emerge, as do Trolls with trebuchets attached to their backs. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for this vast and carefully choreographed battle.
Chariot Chase (Extended Edition only)
Sadly this did not make it into the theatrical version, but it’s a brilliant scene. Thorin and co. ride hell for leather towards Azog’s HQ on goat and goat-pulled Chariot, across the ice, taking out multiple Trolls, Wargs, Orcs and basically just everyone in their wake. Apparently the added Chariot Race scene was what tipped the Extended Edition over the edge of child-friendly ratings in the U.S., and when you see the gore, you can see why: It’s pretty graphic, with a group of trolls meeting a particularly grisly end when the bladed hubcaps lop off their heads. Maybe it’s slightly out of place in the general style of the film, but a great scene nonetheless!
The Battle to End all Battles – Thorin vs Azog, Tauriel, Kili and Legolas vs Bolg - Battle of the Five Armies
What can we say about this battle that accurately sums it up? So much happens, with Fili and Kili’s deaths, Tauriel’s heartbreak, Legolas’ acrobatics across the falling stones and slaying of Bolg. All great pieces by themselves and all as a backdrop to the final face-off between Thorin and Azog across a cracking, frozen lake. Adding an element of unpredictability to the fight, the ice lends a literal and metaphorical coldness to the dance of death the two find themselves in, and the culmination of it is both brutal and fitting.
BONUS: Legolas, dangling from a bat and decapitating a column of orcs with his daggers.
Some will be pretty furious that this wasn’t included from the off, but this is a very reluctant bonus addition. Yes yes, it’s very acrobatic; but it’s just so damn cheesy. We all loved Legolas’ and Gimli’s battle competitions, and Legolas’ acrobatic martial prowess was definitely a fan favourite but adding this extended scene just cheapens his presence in the film. Orlando Bloom is a great actor, but this reduces Legolas’ character to caricature. His presence is important to tying up the threads between two trilogies so it’s a good thing that this scene was cut from the theatrical version but kept him in other scenes. It’s just a shame this semi-silly battle made it into the extended edition.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition and The Hobbit Trilogy Extended Edition are available on Blu-ray 3D, DVD and Digital Download now.