Tom dePerto’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Farewell, Master Burglar. Go back to your books, your fireplace. Plant your trees, watch them grow. If more of us valued home above gold, the world would be a merrier place."
Yesterday was a sad day. Not because of how The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies turned out, but because of what it signifies. This, my friends, is the end of Middle-Earth on the big screen. And they had to make it sad with that song in the credits...
So after a slow start with An Unexpected Journey and a perfectly-balanced middle-chapter with Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit series concludes with an intense pure action film that doesn't hold back with its fast pace and its touching emotional moments. This is, in all honesty, a brutally emotional film, as Peter Jackson delves a bit more into the characters' relationships with each other and their feelings.
It is quite surprising how much character development is in the film, again due to its fast pace. Thorin, for instance, is one of the main focus and his character grows a lot in these two hours, as does Bilbo. And Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman do an excellent job in portraying the characters, the latter though feeling a bit too under-used (I guess this is a major problem when your movie's named The Hobbit). But maybe that's exactly the point - that with all the war and destruction going on, it is important to emphasize on how small our main character in fact is in during it all. Regardless, the character couldn't have been portrayed better by any other actor, as Freeman has made the role his and only his, with all his manneirisms and tics.
There are some characters which are given too much underserving screentime, such as Alfrid, a character so unfitting and annoying that I spent the entire two hours waiting for him to be crushed by a troll. Not all new additions to the film series were negative, as characters like Tauriel, the badass elf chick portrayed by Evangeline Lilly, are greatly welcomed.
On the action front, nothing is a disappointment, as everything's so entertaining and fun to watch, and well-shot. It starts with a breathtaking sequence right off the bat (one of the film's best moments), and the whole thing's pretty epic (yes, even the scene where Legolas transforms into a Ninja Turtle, Super Mario, Rey Mysterio hybrid), but I feel like the wrapping of the battle was a bit too abrupt and underwhelming. The ending itself, though, is deeply nostalgic for fans of Tolkien and quite sad, for reasons I already mentioned.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies isn't really a Return of the King, but it's still goddamn satisfying and euphoric for fans of the series, as well as incredibly moving, its standouts being the character-building moments and the crushing emotional scenes, as well as great performances all around from the unreplaceable Martin Freeman and the surprising Richard Armitage to the great Luke Evans, the beautiful Evangeline Lilly and fan-favorites Orlando Bloom and Ian McKellen. A part of me still thinks that it was an horrible decision to split the book into three films instead of two, but I really can't thank Peter Jackson enough for these three great and exciting Decembers he's given us. Farewell, Middle-Earth.