The Hobbit 3D HFR: The Battle of the Five Armies

The defining chapter.

Peter Jackson's return to Middle-earth concludes in part three of his adaptation of The Hobbit. With Smaug the dragon terrorising the citizens of Lake-town and dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield under the thrall of cursed gold, Bilbo Baggins finds himself at the centre of a battle to decide the fate of Middle-earth.

Smaug’s airborne assault sends human survivors fleeing to the ruins of Dale, where they encounter Elvish forces amassing to take on Oakenshield and his dwarf comrades. As the forces of evil make their way to the field of battle an epic confrontation beckons, one that will set in motion the events of The Lord of the Rings.

Opening with a hiss and a roar, The Battle of the Five Armies wastes no time getting stuck into some serious dragon destruction. This spectacular and chilling sequence could serve as a climax to plenty of other films, but in commencing proceedings here there’s something immediate and confronting about it. This drops the audience in at the deep end with no build up, let alone meandering prologue (unless you count the preceding pics).

As Smaug lays waste to Lake-town and the central dwarven posse find their leader under the increasing thrall of cursed gold, it’s remarkable how inessential much of what’s come before seems – unless my lack of confusion about who’s who, what or where is unlikely testament to the storytelling seen in prior instalments.

It’s a welcome experience to see Peter Jackson to break free from the knots he’s entangled himself in by unnecessarily expanding The Hobbit, and as he gets stuck in to entertaining, rather than indulging, the audience shares in the rewards. There’s a dragon to defeat, a battle to stage, and threads to LOTR to tie together, plus beyond that a surprising amount of thrills, laughs and tension as opposed to the bloat of parts one and two.

As with prequels in general, you know that certain characters will make through intact, yet Jackson adeptly provides the life or death stakes missing so far, and wrings emotional heft out of characters’ passing. Tonally this leans towards the more ominous fare of the original LOTR films although the way they’re bolted together proves mixed, with Sauron as terrifying as ever, but Legolas’ send off a bit too knowing for my liking. Most importantly, though, the action sequences provide plenty of excitement and variety, and the overall experience provides a fitting send off – with the right number of endings to boot.

Empire (UK)

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A fitting conclusion to Jackson’s prequel trilogy and a triumphant adieu to Middle-earth.

Total Film (UK)

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Even at its most talky, it's compelling stuff, reaping the rewards of characters built-up over two-and-a-bit movies...

Guardian (UK)

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Having set the tone so definitively at the outset, each film delivered exactly what it promised.

Time Out London

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Jackson’s singular talent for massive-scale mayhem hasn’t deserted him, and the hour-long smackdown that crowns the film gives him ample opportunities to indulge it.

Variety (USA)

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If none of the Hobbit films resonate with "Rings'" mythic grandeur, it’s hard not to marvel at Jackson’s facility with these characters and this world...

Hollywood Reporter

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The final stretch possesses a warm, amiable, sometimes rueful mood that proves ingratiating and manages to magnify the good and minimize the bad of the trilogy.

A fantastic final movie

This movie grabbed me from the first second and never let go. Even when driving home crying, it still had me.

Expect to experience a full range of emotions - awe, anxiety, happiness, humour, fear and sadness and great pride if you are a New Zealander. The characters and main actors came into their own for this movie and Richard Armitage (as Thorin) and Lee Pace (as Thranduil) in particular were stand outs for me.

Have my tickets booked to see it again.

The three movies have been such a amazing journey and contrary to critics opinions I believe there is no way this could of been achieved so well in just one movie.