Can I say it again? Wow. After waiting all year long to pick up from where The Desolation of Smaug left off I had pretty high expectations, but they were met and surpassed in so many ways. That's not to say I liked everything in the film, far from it! Much of this post will actually be about my negative reactions to the movie. Yet, despite its flaws it was still a fantastic conclusion to the Middle-earth Saga.
The parts that stuck true to the book were expertly pulled off by everyone involved, especially the actors. I'm mainly referring to Richard Armitage's portrayal of Thorin. His dramatic fall was dark, powerful, emotional, and even downright frightening at times. Martin Freeman must be mentioned again as well. His performance as Bilbo has been a joy to witness these past few years.
The White Council's assault upon Dol Guldur was also a treat. While a bit short, it too was expertly delivered. When Peter Jackson said Galadriel would "lose it" in this film he really meant it!
The titular battle itself was very character-centered. I didn't think it necessarily had quite the "epicness" of Helm's Deep or the Siege of Gondor, but it was much more emotional. (Remember to bring lots of tissues!) However, this brings up my first quibble. While I really enjoyed the focus on the characters rather than having just a ton of really big fight scenes for 45 minutes, I would argue against the specific characters they chose to center on. Legolas and Tauriel have an awfully big part to play. This is the Company's quest and I thought, with the exception of 5 dwarves and Bilbo, they had too little screen presence in the final acts. While still on the topic of the battle, there were a few moments that were
Once the battle wrapped up it didn't take long for the credits to roll. Thankfully, many of the concluding scenes from the book were kept along with a great transition into The Lord of the Rings.
In general, it was undoubtedly paced a lot faster than any of the other Middle-earth films. It was incredibly exciting, but left me, as a self-admitted Tolkien geek, wanting more. Along with the dwarves, as I mentioned earlier, I would have liked to see a lot more Beorn and Dain. Some loose ends regarding other items and characters (e.g. Bard) could've been more satisfactorly tied up without compromising the excitement of the earlier acts. But I guess I'll just have to wait for the Extended Edition. Hopefully it will come before November 2015! I don't think I can wait that long! :-)
As I said before, despite its flaws it is still an amazing conclusion to the Middle-earth Saga. Is it the best of the Hobbit films? Hmm. I don't think I can honestly answer that yet. I'm still processing the whole thing! In many ways I think it is. Being a much tighter and more exciting film it will please the average movie-goers and I think it's more faithful to the book in some aspects (there are loads of embellishments, but not as many outright contradictions or changes compared to DOS). In the end I highly, highly recommend seeing it. It'll be receiving many repeat viewings from me. Watch the first two beforehand if you get the chance and bring lots of tissues!
What did you think of it though? Please feel free to comment below, but please leave out any specific spoilers or at least leave sufficient warning for those who have yet to see the film!