Peter Jackson for some reason saw fit to take Tolkein’s relatively short book The Hobbit and stretch it out to three movies. The first movie a AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY definitely felt bloated with filler. DESOLATION OF SMAUG was a much better movie. It moved the story along briskly and had a wonderful combination of action and story. So, what to make of the final installment, THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES. Let me get this out there right away, I really liked this movie. It is a thousand percent better than the first film in the series. It moves quickly and gets right into the action with a minimum of muss or fuss. The battle sequences are well staged and well filmed (attention Michael Bay) any easy to follow. There is also a couple of good story lines. The unexpected hero forced to lead his people. The leader blindly obsessed with riches and power. The greater threat bearing down on the squabbling armies. A great villain who’s treachery is clearly defined. Love, jealousy, serving a greater purpose. All of that comes to bear during the course of the film and the resolution is at once satisfying and sad (trying not to give away too much of the plot here). The acting is excellent with special nods to Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen, Luke Evans, Ryan Gage and all of the Dwarfs. The movie is gorgeous. The cinematography and CGI combine to create grand vistas that are spectacular. I saw it in the high frame rate and whatever issues there had been in the past, I didn’t notice any flatness or muddiness. It is just a thrill to look at. Ok, that’s the good. Here’s the bad, with acknowledgement that Peter Jackson is responsible for all of the above, it is too long by about 30 minutes. Peter Jackson has a sense of spectacle and grandeur. He has a great eye for what he wants to accomplish and easily transfers his vision to the big screen. But, the man couldn’t spot an ending if he tripped over it. His denouements drag on and on. THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES went about 30 minutes after all the storylines were resolved. Granted that allowed Bilbo to return home, but for 30 minutes? I loved this right up until then. So go see it. But be prepared to kinda get bored at the end. — Alan Yudman

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