14/12/2014 23:01 GMT | Updated 13/02/2015 05:59 GMT

The Hobbit-The Battle of the Five Armies: The Review

So that's it then, the final chapter of Peter Jackson's so-so Hobbit trilogy, and the good news is this: The Battle of the Five Armies is better than the last two episodes put together.

Essentially it's one long clash between assorted races - dwarves, orcs, elves and others.

It opens with a stunning assault from gold-crazy dragon Smaug, whose fiery wrath against Laketown makes up for the hugely disappointing second episode which ended on an annoying cliffhanger.


Photo: Roger Crow

At the heart of the first two acts is Thorin Oakenshield's own obsession with precious metals, like Middle Earth's answer to Goldmember.

While his fellow dwarves clash with orcs, he's holed up in his mountain lusting after gold.

Thankfully he finally snaps out of it and leads his companions into battle.

We also happily witness the return of other key characters who attempt to rescue Gandalf from the forces of evil. Galadriel unleashing her power (as witnessed in The Fellowship of the Ring) is a glorious sight.

Okay at times the movie looks like 130 plus minutes of eclectic forces hitting each other, but it's usually done with such style there's rarely a chance to get bored.


Photo: Roger Crow

For the most part the effects are excellent. Alas, a scene with battle goats (yes, really) scaling a mountain looks awful, and a key character traversing a collapsing makeshift bridge could have done with work, but it scarcely matters.

One contributor to a key film podcast hit the nail on the head recently when they said 'I LOVE Lord of the Rings. I like The Hobbit.'

I'd share that sentiment.

However, what Jackson and his army of filmmakers have done is remarkable, not least the look of the movie - like a luscious Alan Lee watercolour.

Howard Shore's score is also arguably the best of this trilogy, a soaring, grandiose assault on the senses, while LOTR veteran Billy Boyd signs off the saga with a great closing theme. And In IMAX 3D the whole thing was a feast for the eyes.

I have little interest in seeing the other Hobbit movies again, but I'd quite happily return to this adventure.

Was The Hobbit worth three movies? No. Two at most (as it was originally planned), but one day it would be good to see Jackson produce a standalone version combining the best elements in one feature. It might be four hours long but could be a greater challenge than the overlong padded adventure he's created here.


Photo: Roger Crow

The cast, including Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage are great. Billy Connolly's presence as a partially CG rendered Dwarf, is jarring, but a final mention goes to Martin Freeman, easily the strongest asset of this massive enterprise as Bilbo Baggins; without him the saga would have collapsed like the bridge of khazad-dum after having a boulder drop on it.