The title says it all, this is basically a two hour plus battle for "The Lonely Mountain". If you have no idea what I'm referring to, you have no business going to see this film. Otherwise, Peter Jackson has made pretty damn sure you are committed to seeing the climactic third film in "The Hobbit" film trilogy. The original story was a single book but Mr. Jackson has stretched the story into three films to appease the studio gods, reaping in the gold like Smaug basking in his treasure filled vaults.
The "big" names in the cast, including Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lily, Hugo Weaving and Christopher Lee are all back in smaller but still significant roles. Also returning are Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Richard Armitage, all the fine actors playing the band of dwarves and of course, Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, the heart and soul of the film.
The earlier films have firmly established these characters so for this final outing, much of the character development has been sacrificed for the action. The two standouts, besides Mr. Freeman, are Luke Evans and Richard Armitage. Mr. Evans gets a good amount of screen time as the heroic "Bard the Bowman" and is quite the dashing figure. But it is Mr. Armitage that steals the film with a wonderfully layered performance as Prince Thorin.
The fight sequences themselves are once again wonderfully rendered in CGI by Mr. Jackson and his team but our heroes cut through the "powerful" orcs like a hot knife through butter and there is never any sense of danger in the large battle scenes. The small, more intimate fight scenes are more exciting and have a sense of dread that the outcome can go either way.
The story picks up directly from the end of the previous one with Smaug destroying Lake Town. It's a terrific opening sequence that sets the stage for what's to come. The film itself is bloated and has its flaws but its still a thrill ride and a satisfying close to the story.