Saying goodbye to our favorite movie franchise can be very tough. You realize that this is the last time you will see the characters on-screen, and the last time you will be a part of their story. When The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ended, all of us were transfixed albeit with a huge lump in our throat. Then along came a young Hobbit, and took us back to Middle-earth, to the Shire and everything we hold dear. With The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the journey comes to an epic conclusion. But the path that leads us there is far from smooth.

After driving Smaug the Dragon out of Erebor, the dwarves take refuge in their newly-reclaimed home. Lake-town, on the other hand, is being burned to ashes by Smaug (a menacing voice-over by Benedict Cumberbatch). But a man named Bard (Luke Evans) manages to slay Smaug. The survivors decide to head to Erebor to ask for what they were promised – a share of the gold. The Elves are there too, for their share of the bargain. But the dwarf king Thorin (Richard Armitage), having succumbed to Dragon Sickness, refuses to comply and challenges the Elves and humans to battle. And while the three armies are bickering, a giant swarm of Orcs draws nearer, forcing them to unite to save the kingdom from impending doom.

A lot has already been said about Peter Jackson‘s decision to extend a simple story into three full-length feature films. In all honesty, it could have been done in two parts (as originally proposed) or even one for that matter. However, with the very first film, Jackson established that he will be taking certain liberties with the storytelling, to give us something visually enthralling yet rooted in emotion.

The latest installation, however, feels extremely disjointed, right from the slaying of Smaug to a pointless scene with Sauron’s return. Characters like Saruman (Christopher Lee), Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) are brought in but have nothing to contribute to the story. Same goes for the love story between Fili (Dean O’Gorman) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lily). The actual story unfolds at Erebor at a snail’s pace, with a lot of to-and-fro before we arrive at the film’s best part. The 45-minute battle scene is a Peter Jackson trademark. There are enough high-octane shots filled with hand-to-hand combat to get your adrenalin pumping. And amidst all this, is our brave little Hobbit (Martin Freeman), who as a silent observer, does all that he can do.

As usual, Freeman is adorable as the titular hero, exuding charm in his scenes. But he doesn’t have a lot of screen-time, which seems fair, as the true star of the movie is Richard Armitage’s Thorin. This might infuriate hardcore Tolkien fans, but Armitage deserves all the accolades for his performance. His inner conflict is nicely portrayed and he also gets to go full-throttle against Azog the Defiler (splendidly played by Manu Bennet). The landscape shots are breath-taking but barring a couple of scenes, the 3D remains ineffective.

Why should you watch this film?

Given that the screenplay is pretty average, any other director would have turned The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies into a blunder of a film. But not Peter Jackson. He knows exactly how he wants his story to play out. He makes a grandiose statement with the set-pieces and the entire battle scene is the stuff of legends. The film falters a little at the start, and some plot points never materialize. But that’s alright, considering how the events are nicely tied to the first LOTR film. It’s finally time to say goodbye to Middle-earth, so do go and watch the film.

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