I wouldn’t call myself a Hobbit junkie, but I have certainly enjoyed following the odyssey of Bilbo Baggins and company over the past 3 years. Nothing can compare to the experience of The Lord of the Rings, but given the need to keep the series alive, I think Peter Jackson has done justice to J.R.R Tolkien’s intentions. While “Desolation of Smaug” played like a place-holder (though it was pretty good), this eagerly awaited finale offers excitement and resolution, as it should. It’s basically one giant battle scene involving dwarves, elves and a legion of Orcs sent by non other than the evil Sauron. It’s a showdown of epic proportions, but it shouldn’t be a great secret that good triumphs and evil is vanquished. It’s the journey, as well as the destination that matter here, and there are definitely a few surprises along the way. I won’t pretend that I understood every single detail, as a devoted Tolkien reader would, but I got the things that matter most in terms of event and character. The final battle is vividly staged, with eye-popping visuals that command our attention, even after 5 previous movies full of impressive visual effects. Many of the familiar characters get to take a final bow, with some of the actors reduced to eye-blink cameos (like the great Christopher Lee) and others given a bit more to do (like Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel). But ultimately this is about following Bilbo Baggins to the end of his journey. Martin Freeman embodies this character so well, that it’s bittersweet to have to say goodbye. But the movie gives him a fitting farewell in a scene that Lord of the Rings fan will especially appreciate.
I don’t know if we’ll ever see another series quite like this, produced on such a lavish scale over a decade’s time. Whatever one’s criticisms, the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movies have maintained their integrity, and their ability to dazzle us, from start to finish. That is an achievement that will stand for years to come.