As the final installment in the Hobbit trilogy nears its December release date, director Peter Jackson has given Entertainment Weekly a peek at his strategy for The Battle of the Five Armies.
The final installment of the filmmaker's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved fantasy novel finishes with a 45-minute battle set at the base of Lonely Mountain, where multiple armies fight for possession of the dwarven treasure.
"There's a lot of logistics that have to be thought through," Jackson explained. "We have dwarves and men and elves and orcs, all with different cultures, with different weapons, and different shields and patterns and tactics."
Jackson also revealed the return of the giant eagles that factored into the final battle in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the director wanted to avoid making them a deus ex machina.
"Tolkien uses eagles in a way that can be kind of awkward because they tend to show up out of the blue and change things pretty quickly," Jackson said. "So here they're just part of the plan, not the saviors. I mean, I do realize that if the eagles had just been able to bring Frodo to Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings and let him drop the ring in, those movies would have been much shorter."
The director also discussed his desire to keep the battle lively and engaging even with its potentially unwieldy run time. "We have a rule that we're not allowed to go more than two or three shots of anonymous people fighting without cutting back to our principal characters," he said. "Otherwise the audience just ends up with battle fatigue."
You can check out more concept art and hand drawn battle plans at Entertainment Weekly. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies arrives in theaters Dec. 17.