A few weeks ago myself and @LifeAtBagEnd put together a list of our top ten favourite moments from The Lords of the Rings trilogy, well we’re back and this time looking at the smaller tale from Middle Earth
I’ll admit that overall I’m not a massive fan of The Hobbit trilogy. I really enjoy the first film, but I think that the second and third films really suffer from studio interference and that had Peter Jackson been left to his own devices and been allowed to maintain the 2 film structure he wanted originally, that we would have seen a much better product. With that being said, I do think there are plenty of really strong moments throughout the trilogy, and with @LifeAtBagEnd loving the trilogy it was a no brainier that we wanted to put together this list.
- Barrels down the river
- The Dwarves arrive at Rivendell
- The Dwarves are introduced to Beorn
- The funeral scene
- The Dwarves seeing the Lonely Mountain for the first time
So on with the list!
Number 10: The White Council meeting, An Unexpected Journey
The relationships between characters on The White Council are only lightly touched upon in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, so to have that further explored in the The Hobbit trilogy was really something delightful to watch unfurl on screen. The steel musical undertones of Isengard as Saruman speaks adds a level of foreshadowing and foreboding, whilst the playful nature of Gandalf and Galadriel’s relationship is endearing and adds depth to the reveal in The Fellowship of the Ring that Gandalf has fallen to the Balrog.
Number 9: Bard vs. Smaug, Battle of the Five Armies
One man and his son vs. The last Dragon in Middle Earth.
It’s a truly epic way to kickoff The Battle of the Five Armies and it just makes you wonder whether it would have been even better if it had been the climax to The Desolation of Smaug instead. Either way, the action is incredibly well put together and despite the fact that Bard should have died easily in this fight, the dialogue by Smaug is, as always, top notch and his egotistical nature makes the prolonged fight and eventual defeat more believable.
The added emotion of having Bard’s son arrive late into the battle adds an extra dimension to it and the personal stakes (aside from the complete destruction of Laketown) for Bard to fight for.
Number 8: Thorin fighting Dragon Sickness, Battle of the Fives Armies
One of the redeeming qualities of The Hobbit trilogy is that whilst a number of the Dwarves receive no character building whatsoever, the ones who do receive a good amount that helps you grow to love them as characters. One of these is Thorin who effectively takes on the role equivalent to Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring.
His fight against Dragon Sickness is what defines his character in the third and final instalment in the franchise. Fighting his inner demons during the prelude to war and what that means for his character in the long term and the characters around him is a joy to watch. It impacts his relationship not only with Bilbo, but with the other Dwarves in his company and brings him to the teetering edge of becoming a full-fledged villain.
Number 7: The Prologue, An Unexpected Journey
Following in the vein of The Fellowship of the Ring, An Unexpected Journey opens with a prologue that provides backstory and action set pieces to establish where we find our characters going into the movie. Unsurprisingly it is this prologue that for me feels the most like the previous Lord of the Rings movies, and for that it’s one of my personal favourite scenes in the entire trilogy. @LifeAtBagEnd didn’t exactly agree on the placement of this scene and as such it finds itself at the slightly higher position of No. 7.
In my personal opinion the scene works well for what is required of it, establishing the motives of Thorin, the dangers of Smaug, the betrayal of Thranduil and the plight of the people of Dale. A worthy entry into the top ten and the closest thing to the Lord of the Rings that The Hobbit trilogy has to offer.
Number 6: The White Council vs. The Nine
Would this scene have worked so well if the Ringwraiths hadn’t been established as such formidable villains in the Lord of the Rings trilogy? Maybe not. But they were and this scene benefits as a result.
Finally seeing the likes of Elrond and Saruman in such fast paced action is also a must see moment for any Middle Earth fan who had been around since the first film, wanting more from the Elrond who we saw teased in the Fellowship prologue.
Every character shines in this scene, and for all different reasons. The scheming of Saruman, the badass action from Elrond, the emotion from Gandalf and the dominance from Galadriel whilst facing off against Sauron is the stuff that Middle Earth dreams are made of.
Number 5: Smaug wakes up, An Unexpected Journey
Despite only seeing short glimpses of him throughout the whole film, An Unexpected Journey does an amazing job of setting up the deadly character of Smaug. Nothing emphasises this more than the final shot of the film, as we pan through into the depths of the Lonely Mountain and beneath a mountain of gold we see movement. We’re then given the briefest of teases of this humongous dragon laying dormant beneath the gold, with just the Dragon’s eye gazing out at the audience, a true threat for our approaching protagonists and a fitting hook to bring you back for the next film.
Number 4: “I’m going on an adventure”, An Unexpected Journey
A big transition from the previous entry in our list, which emphasised fear, threat and foreboding, to a moment that instead focuses on the innocence of The Hobbit trilogy.
Bilbo’s realisation that he wants to venture beyond the boundaries of the Shire, despite knowing the risks involved, is the start of a character journey that really lasts throughout all six films in Middle Earth. These are the first steps of the young Hobbit who will one day leave the Shire behind for good to make the ultimate journey across the sea and into the Undying Lands, quite the journey for someone who fainted after hearing the dangers a Dragon can pose.
Number 3: Riddles in the dark, An Unexpected Journey
You all knew this scene would be in here right?
Gollum’s final appearance in the Middle Earth films, and whilst it might not reach the giddy heights that some of the characters appearances in The Lord of the Rings trilogy did, it still holds up as great character work. Featuring genuinely funny lines and some great delivery from both Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis, the two characters and actors work really well together to deliver what is a tense and comedic moment that sets in motion the rest of the franchise.
And who didn’t find themselves playing along with the riddles?
Number 2: The line of Durin charge into battle, The Battle of the Five Armies
Nothing was more satisfying that watching Thorin overcome his Dragon Sickness and charge into battle at the head of a Dwarves army, the likes of which we hadn’t seen on screen before.
With Fili and Kili at his side and their comrades at their back, the charge of Durin’s line is both emotional and epic. Whilst I figure that the Battle of the Five Armies itself could have been done better, everything that is done with the line of Durin throughout the battle is top quality.
From this moment onwards Thorin, Fili and Kili’s struggles keep the audience hooked until their final battles against Azog and his minions.
Number 1: Thorin vs. Azog, An Unexpected Journey
From the moment that Thorin rises to his feet in defence of not only his Dwarves brethren, but his honour and family line, this scene steals your attention and grips you at every turn.
The Dwarves have no where left to go (Let’s ignore the Eagles for now please) and Thorin sees this might be his last chance to slay Azog, so he charges his foe and the battle begins. With the fire surrounding the event and Bilbo stepping up bravely to defend the Dwarf who had chastised him so often throughout their journey this scene stands out as the most epic across the whole trilogy.
For me personally this is the scene that best shows off Peter Jackson’s directing in The Hobbit trilogy, the scene where his own touches feel as though they really shine through. Thorin holds a gravitas that only characters under Peter Jackson’s careful watch can achieve and it’s in this moment that Thorin stakes his claim as one of the most badass characters in all six Middle Earth films.
So there’s our list! The Hobbit trilogy may be divisive, but it certainly has amazing moments that stand out as some of the best and most memorable in any of the six films set in Middle Earth.
Make sure you follow @LifeAtBagEnd for great LOTR and Hobbit content, and keep coming back here to keep track of the latest movie, gaming and wrestling news and opinions.