2.5 out of 5 stars
At long last, the much anticipated finale to The Hobbit trilogy has hit the big screen, mercifully ending the bloated movie series epic that takes longer to watch than it would to read the book. In the final installment, The Battle of the Five Armies, director Peter Jackson has continued his rich history of taking classic and beloved books and completely changing everything about them to suit his own whimsical fantasies. So if you've read The Hobbit, be prepared for another mildly entertaining but extreme bastardization of Tolkien's classic book. If you haven't read The Hobbit, consider yourself lucky that you won't know any better, and be prepared for 2 and a half hours of computer generated battle scenes and 1 hour of computer generated other stuff.
Bilbo Baggins, the slightly annoying hero, is back and once again cooped up with, and saving the lives of, a random pack of faceless dwarves who's names you still don't know, and who will literally get captured by anything that moves, until the final battle scene when they seemingly can't be killed despite being outnumbered 3000 to 1. The problem is that Bilbo, who is supposed to be the moral and ethical focal point of this story, is cast aside to make room for a bunch of other storylines involving an ever expanding cast of characters. It's hard to grow attached to Bilbo as a protagonist despite literally hours of back story and character development in the first two movies, mostly because Jackson totally forgot that the book is called "The Hobbit" and continually takes the focus off of Bilbo and places it on 20 other characters for almost the entire movie. As a result, the light-hearted nature of the book is lost in the movie, because Bilbo is the only character that isn't a total jack-ass. The films dark mood is also intensified by the fact that the battle scene, which only gets one chapter in the book, takes up two thirds of the running time.
Before the battle though, you'll have to sit through some other stuff that wasn't in the book, like a made up storyline about some prominent wood-elves Tauriel and Legolas, and some un-interesting Laketown politics featuring The Master's wart-faced dolt asisstant. It's possible that Jackson added the character of Tauriel (Kate from Lost) so that male viewers wouldn't be completely unstimulated during a movie where females are only seen as extras for micro-seconds at a time, and the rest of the cast is an endless sea of really filthy-looking white guys from 80's hair bands, ugly Scottish-sounding dwarves, and disgusting blood-thirsty orcs. Oh Kate from Lost...I've missed you so much. Or she's just in there to create a forced love story about a really hot elf who falls hard for a really ugly dwarf after a 3 minute conversation through a prison door. Jackson also felt the need to weave in a back story about Sauron as an obvious pre-cursor to The Lord of the Rings in a desperate attempt to rekindle interest into that trilogy, thereby selling more merchandise, thereby stuffing his fat pockets with more money. Hell it worked though, I'm re-watching The Lord of the Rings tonight!
In the end, The Battle of the Five Armies is mildly entertaining, and if you like fight scenes, you'll have a huge boner for an hour and a half as the final battle drags on and on and on. The special effects are still good, if not better than ever before, so despite the fact that most of the movie is computer generated, it still looks very good. And if you're the sentimental type, you'll also love seeing all of your old favourite characters from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Gandalf is back of course, but so is Galadriel (not in the book), Elrond (not in the book), Frodo (not in the book), Legolas (not in the book), Sauron (not in the book), Sarumon (not in the book), and Pokemon (not in the book).
Unfortunately, as this trilogy drags on it uses less and less content from the book, and the humor seems more forced and less funny. But despite these massive creative liberties that Jackson has taken, the underlying story of the book is still the basis for the movie, and this fact at least renders it watchable.