In just a couple weeks, Peter Jackson's second Middle-earth trilogy and the debate over splitting one children's book into three films will both come to a close with "The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies."
The first round of reviews for the finale has already hit, and the response is generally positive. Critics praise "Battle" for its energy, shorter running time and satisfying closure/set-up for "Lord of the Rings."
See what the critics are saying below.
Bilbo Takes the Lead
With this final chapter in this latest trilogy, [Jackson] not only marries this to the earlier "Rings" films, but he also brings together in a way that makes all three of the Hobbit films feel more cohesive.... Ultimately, this film feels like it finally gives Bilbo Baggins (the precise and perfectly cast Martin Freeman) room to be the hero and not an entirely passive participant. He's proven himself before, and in "Desolation Of Smaug," he charged into a few fights, trying his best to be brave and stay alive. Here, though, he risks everything because of the bonds he's formed with his fellow companions on the trip, and the sort of hero Bilbo becomes is most important of all: a moral hero. -- Drew McWeeny, HitFix
This Means War
After six films, 13 years and 1031 minutes of accumulated running time (far more if you count the extended versions), Peter Jackson has concluded his massively remunerative genuflection at the altar of J.R.R. Tolkien with a film that may be the most purely entertaining of any in the collection (tellingly, it is also, by far, the shortest of the sextet).... Much as "The Return of the King" wrapped up the "Lord of the Rings" saga on an action-dominated high note, "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" lives up to its mayhem potential by making maximum use of modern technology to create an abundant smorgasbord of wildly varied and sometimes mordantly amusing combat; this is an out-and-out war film, with gobs of trimmings. -- Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
Get Ready To Feel
While that effort has ultimately proved only partly successful, it’s easier now to see the entire “Hobbit” project as a labor of love on Jackson’s part, rather than a descent into crass box-office opportunism. Where the first two films often felt like a marking of time by a director intent on fattening his own Smaug-like coffers, “The Battle of the Five Armies” contains a series of emotional payoffs and bridges to the “Lord of the Rings” films that work as well as they do for having been carefully seeded by Jackson in the previous episodes. -- Scott Foundas, Variety
Ending With a Bang
Minor issues aside, this is another grand spectacle that does a fine job wrapping things up without offering nearly as many of the memorable moments of its predecessor… or “The Lord of the Rings” as a whole. -- Edward Douglas, ComingSoon.net
"The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies" opens in theaters on December 17.