The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies [IMAX/3D]
The final chapter of this drawn out trilogy is unfortunately the weakest of the lot, and that is saying something since The Hobbit is already incomparable to The Lord of the Ring.
At 144 minutes, this is the shortest entry of the lot, but yet it felt so bloated. There is essentially only one set where the whole story is based on (yes, we do venture to other locales briefly, but those scenes were mere interludes), and there really was not any substantial plot to sustain the length.
In addition, everything we see had a been-there-done-that feeling to it. Peter Jackson did not give us anything new or innovative to distract us from the thinness of the plot and the repetitiveness of the action.
The biggest problem with this trilogy is that we do not care about this "fellowship". There was not really any character development or investment by Jackson and company to make the audience feel attached to the characters. Likely because Tolkien himself did not really intend for this story to be so long.
The only character we really do care about is Martin Freeman's Bilbo Baggins - and we all know he survives. It says a lot when its the well-being of the lovers of the fictional - and frankly, unbelievable - love story (Evangeline Lily and Aidan Turner) that got us most concerned about.
No disrespect to Richard Armitage who portrayed Thorin with great gravitas, but his character's life or death was not something that we root for. Especially since we do not know why we would want him to survive. Even Luke Evan's Bard was so one-dimensional and boring.
Sadly, it was the auxillary star-casts which stole the limelight here. Benedict Cumberbatch's Smaug was fun while he/it was on screen; as were the holy-unholy trinity of Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and Christopher Lee. That scene with the latter three should have been in the LOTR instead.
Ryan Gage's Alfred is the Jar Jar Binks of this prequel trilogy.
The highlight of this "defining chapter" is when Howard Shore's familiar Fellowhsip theme mildly rises when Legolas (Orlando Bloom) is sent to look for Aragon. Just that brief moment is enough to conjure up the majesty of the original LOTR trilogy and make The Hobbit pale in comparison.
Speaking of Howard Shore, even his score here just felt tired and generic.
I still appreciate the High Film Rate (HFR) that Jackson utilised here. It did make the action clearer and the image crisper, although the "hyper-realistic" feel to it may not be to everybody's liking. The movie was filmed in 3D so it is worth to watch it in 3D just to give a better sense of depth and scale to the battle. But do not expect the 3D gimmicks. IMAX was a plus just for the scale of it.
Overall, watching this concluding chapter, it made me miss the original trilogy. Perhaps, that was the ultimate in the grand scheme of things.