Peter Jackson did not make his task of following up his previous run at Tolkken mythology easy. This Hobbit series has been fighting to prove itself since the beginning, with hopes the Five Armies would return to the glory of its predecessors.
And he accomplished his goal, albeit, barely. Each movie of this trilogy had a different tone, which, made for better individual films, but at its conclusion, left viewers without a central tone to maintain throughout the story.
The movie starts very quickly, lighting up your eyes in a blaze of fire, it is set over Laketown, a city currently under dragon fire. Pure chaos ensues across a fire laden landscape as Smaug hurls gracefully through smoke and sky, looking awesome! For some, CGI often takes viewers out of the moment, but everything here looks seamless and authentic. This film has some of the best CGI to date.
We begin to be reintroduced to familiar characters, as the plot rolls on, after, what feels was a very short time with Smaug, his entire runtime in the film ends in the first 20 minutes. After Smaug is defeated by Bard the Bowman, played by Luke Evans, all attention is set on the lonely mountain.
Reclaiming their homeland, the dwarves now are shown a new side of Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). Overtaken by his new power and wealth, Thorin forgoes friendship and honor in order to horde his new claim; he no longer adheres to the agreements held with the other peoples of Middle Earth to properly divide the treasures of the Lonely Mountain. Thus ensues the first of two main conflicts of the film.
Word of Smaugs' defeat had spread, first bringing an army of Elves, led by the Lee Pace cast, Thranduil. Thranduil had come to reclaim The Arken Stone, a nefariously missing gem that was highly coveted by Thorin.
With Thorin falling into a deeper and deeper "dragon sickness" a sort of, greed that consumes his very being, and the armies of men and elves assembling outside the now fortified mountain, Biblo devises a plan to negate the coming battle. All the while, Sauron, the dark force, has sent a great army or orcs to descend on the Lonely Mountain to destroy all and claim the mountain for darkness. Unknown to the other armies, a great battle ensues, which claims most of the real estate of the film. Again, the special effects and CGI are unbelievable, and the battle scenes are second to none, and the best since the original trilogy. The amount of detail that is shown really lets you know that this is Jackson's bread and butter. The plot called for a lot of emotional grasps that were in fact, grasping at straws. The film falls short mostly because of its inability to connect the characters emotionally after all the changes that occur in this last third of the series.
With the LOTR trilogy, the comradery and relationships built between characters added a depth to all the outlandish plot twists, and amazing visuals; yet in BOTFA, the relationships failed to show the same vigor and believability. However, it was not without honest attempts. Bilbo, our burglar, had all the redeeming qualities, saving Oakenshield from his "dragon sickness" and ever being the unbelievable saving grace, but never the less, the most clever and best character of the film. However, without revealing any spoilers, there are a few instances where some of the tricks Biblo turn are a bit outlandish, even for Middle Earth. Bard, the leader of men, is suddenly thrust to the helm and seemingly leads his people to death, over and over. Legolas, who is reprised by Orlando Bloom, a character who is not actually in the original "The Hobbit" book, pulls off all the death defying stunts and dead shot aim he had in the past, but is not playing off two other notable characters whom give him his time to shine. Here, his love story is mailed in, sadly looks older in this film, and while the line of where his abilities as fighter are stretched way beyond belief, to almost cheese filled depths, it does makes for incredible action sequences. Which truly is the strength in this movie.
Gone are the moments of lumpy throats and teary eyes set on from Frodos previous journey. Its more of a feeling of a job well done, and walking home, the ending doesn't quite drag as the first trilogy did, but doesn't quite leave us with an absolute ending, which you will see, is completely appropriate. Overall, the pacing of the movie is fantastic, making it the easiest film of all Peter Jackson's Middle Earth series to watch, even with its hefty runtime. The visuals are stunning, and this film is worth seeing in the theater setting, but don't expect to walk away feel the same substance from the emotional journey of "The Lord of The Rings Trilogy" , but you will walk away with your take of some of the treasure.