ByRon Dude, writer at

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is upon us, opening mid next month around the globe. The first two films, despite ranking high within the IMDb community, have been subject to much criticism. The films are very different from the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, as we follow ONE group on their journey, rather than cut between several storylines. Even Gandalf's side business isn't that far of a departure. So what will become of Peter Jackson's FINAL Middle Earth installment?

Well, it's Nov. 30th so we KNOW he & his team are still editing the film, and will likely do so until the last minute (not a bad thing at all). However, Jackson has stated that the film will end with a 45 minute battle sequence, which sounds MOST EPIC. I figure the doomed SMAUG will face his demise early on in the film, much like **SPOILERS** Saruman in RETURN OF THE KING (extended edition). Which leaves plenty of time for lots of buildup to what MAY BE the BEST battle we have seen from Peter yet. But that's a big MAYBE, considering the scope of King's action sequences.

A love story that was introduced too late may not find it's way to audiences' hearts in the end but nevertheless, I think we're in for the BEST CHAPTER of this trilogy. Obviously our dwarves don't have to walk a thousand miles to war since it's coming to them, and the enemy has been advancing towards their location since the finale of last year's SMAUG, so I'm not worried about any parts dragging. Plus, I feel Jackson has become a much better editor with these installments, that or perhaps it just seems that way because- again, these movies are easier to follow than the previous trilogy?

To slay a dragon, fight a battle (well, more of a war I presume) and then return home to tell the tale.. frankly, I'd be satisfied with a 2hr 30m runtime (NOT including credits). We've already seen the men of the mountain battle the fierce dragon so I'm really not expecting a long, drawn-out brawl between them. Smaug destroys Laketown, ENTER BARD THE BOWMAN. Begin the film with Lord Elrond, Galadriel & Saruman finding & rescuing a beaten Gandalf at Dol Guldur, then they quickly decide how to deal with the enemy's army.. cut to The Lonely Mountain, in which Thorin & his company watch in horror as the dragon burns Laketown, and obviously some want to respond while Thorin chooses not to act.

Bard escapes (or is let loose) and rids of the dragon, but was let out too late so the town is destroyed. He soon ventures to the mountain, and confronts the King. Bilbo urges Thorin to respond, but struggles until someone (likely Elrond or Galadriel) arrives and reveals the enemy's master plan, then warns him of the incoming threat.. plus we know that Legolas is in pursuit of some creatures, he'll later meet up with Tauriel, who will share one last goodbye with Kili before the battle begins.

The long awaited rematch between Thorin & Azog, Saruman VS(?) Sauron, Thranduil interrupting plans so he can retrieve Legolas & Tauriel, we'll likely see some more of Radagast (besides informing Lady Galadriel of Gandalf's whereabouts). So there's alot to cover in this, and if we've learned anything from Peter Jackson- it's that he knows how to deliver MANY finales. Bilbo & the dwarves saying goodbye, perhaps a tease for Saruman's eventual turn to evil, Old Bilbo & Frodo talking a bit more just before his birthday celebration begins, and likely some more closure, yah?!

I just hope I end up rooting for Thorin in this one, his arrogance so far doesn't make him the best candidate for King. It's Biblo Baggins we're rooting for, even though many of us know his fate- we're still along for the ride (or walk, really.) DECEMBER 17th in theaters (US)


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