I will say from the start, I loved this movie.
If you weren’t thrilled with the last two Hobbit films, I’d say definitely give this one a shot. I loved both previous installments (ironically, I loved the extended editions more than the theatrical ones, due to crucial scenes being chopped for runtime) and this last installment doesn’t disappoint.
All the characters seems to hit their stride, especially Thorin Oakenshield. I didn’t really connect with him in the first film, but in this one I actually felt plenty of emotion from his character beats. I was legitimately afraid for Bilbo at crucial parts of the film, and this is mostly down to Richard Armitage’s acting.
My other favorite character was Bard the Bowman. He was the Strider of this film, and it was awesome to see him fighting for not only his family, but Laketown. Tauriel the elf maiden is also extremely effective in this film, admittedly not from the source material. It finally felt as if she truly belonged (though, I loved her in Desolation of Smaug, no matter how cheesy it was). Then, of course, there is the wonderful Martin Freeman as Bilbo, the moral center of the entire film. He brought a tear to my eye a few times, and the ending of the film was definitely a curtain call on the Middle Earth saga.
It was clear to me that this film was a labor of love. Everything clicked, and seeing the visual effects and hearing the amazing sound design was a treat. All the action felt like it was really happening around me, from the amazing attack of Smaug, to the more intimate battle sequences on the ground. There was even a fun appearance by Billy Connolly, who I love.
If you’re looking for the holiday film of the season to see, I’d say this is it. Don’t miss it. Peter Jackson still has it, and what a grand vision it was. He manages to steer this behemoth of a film through the turbulent waters of Hollywood marketing and money-making, and makes sure that it arrives at the point for which we all came – to say goodbye to a world that we have come to love through book and silver screen, and to see our beloved friends one last time before they go off to the Grey Havens.
As a side note, I saw this in IMAX 3D, and it was the most immersive experience I’ve had this year since Captain America: The Winter Soldier.