It's less than a week until The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies hits the theaters, putting an end to the six-part Middle Earth saga that began with The Lord Of The Rings trilogy in 2001, and continued with The Hobbit trilogy in 2012. So does the series do a good job of tying up all the loose ends in the franchise? Early reviews seem to indicate the third Hobbit film to be not only the best in the trilogy, but on par with that of the original trilogy.
The Guardian is glowing in its review, singing the film's praises, and embracing the journey Peter Jackson set viewers on two years ago.
"Peter Jackson has pulled it off. He has successfully concluded his outrageously steroidal inflation of Tolkien's Hobbit into a triple-decker Middle Earth saga equivalent to the Rings trilogy, and made it something terrifically exciting and spectacular, genial and rousing, with all the cheerful spirit of Saturday morning pictures... The Battle of the Five Armies is at least as weighty as The Return of the King. It packs a huge chain-mailed punch and lands a resounding mythic stonk. But it's less conceited, more accessible and it makes do with just the one ending."Empire Magazine gave an overall positive review of the final Hobbit movie, though contrary to practically every other review, felt as though the film may have cut too much this time around.
"What could have been the stand-out set-piece is largely squandered, Elrond and Saruman facing off against the Nazgul in a spectacular but upsettingly short-lived altercation at Dol Guldur. It's a minor disappointment in an otherwise gratifying conclusion, though, and one that may yet be addressed. With the numerous threads left unresolved (Legolas' pursuit of Bolg at Smaug's finale is abandoned entirely) and key appearances truncated (Beorn's return lasts a single shot), we can look forward to the certainty of a far weightier Extended Edition this time next year."
Not all reviews of the film were positive. There were some reviewers who felt the flaws from the previous Hobbit films -- overly long battle scenes, emphasis on spectacle, and bloated running time -- were ever-present. The Wrap was especially brutal in its review, all but saying the film butts heads with the very theme and message Tolkien set out to make with the original Hobbit book.
"When J.R.R. Tolkien's son accused Peter Jackson of missing the point of the Middle-earth books two years ago, he was far from alone in his distaste for the director's emphasis on spectacle above all else... [And] the lumbering and overstuffed Five Armies only proves Christopher Tolkien right. The 144-minute running time showcases Jackson's worst tendencies: eons-long battle scenes, sloppy and abrupt resolutions, portentous romances, off-rhythm comic timing, and, newly in this case, patience-testing fan service."
When the first film in the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out, enthusiasm for the series seemed to be at an all-time low. Many felt it was bloated, boring, and ultimately unnecessary. The second film, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, was much better-received, though still was unable to recapture the magic from the original Rings trilogy. While The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies is currently sitting at 79% on Rotten Tomatoes (higher up than both previous films--though the exact percentage will undoubtedly change), and the overall consensus seems positive, will audiences be content to leave Middle-earth on the note Peter Jackson leaves it?
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies hits theaters in the U.S. on December 17, 2014. What do you think? Are you looking forward to the final Hobbit film? Could it possibly live up to the standards of the original Lord Of The Rings trilogy? Let us know below!
[Images: Courtesy of Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, and MGM]