Having reclaimed their homeland, the company, led by Thorin, sets out searching the vast treasure halls for the Arkenstone. This search consumes Thorin; gone is the noble way of the honorable dwarf. Instead, he becomes paranoid, fueled with the greed so much wealth brings, blind to the fact that his reclaimed homeland may not be his to rule for too long as dark forces are at work to claim the mountain for themselves. His promises to the men of Lake Town forgotten, the new unelected, but people's choice for mayor "Bard", finds an unlikely ally in the elven king Thranduil (Lee Pace), who also brings his army to the Lonely Mountain.
Faced with two armies at his door Thorin griped with dragon sickness is in no mood to negotiate. Instead he barricades himself and the company within the mountain and holds fast for Dain (Billy Connolly) and his Dwarven hoard to come to his aid. Through all the arguments, Bilbo tries to act as peacemaker, but to no avail, as the orc armies of Gundabad come to join the fun and unite man, elf and dwarf to battle a common foe.
The shortest of the three films, there is no doubt this is the one that packs the biggest punch with more action than the last two put together. Within its 144 minute run time there are a number of plots and subplots that keep you right on the edge of your seat. Not all of the subplots are relevant, but Jackson has managed to tie the Hobbit trilogy into his first Lord of the Rings trilogy. It's a safe bet that most seeing this sixth middle earth movie watched The Lord of the Rings first and know that the Hobbit is sixty years before. But, for anyone who hasn't, the Oscar winning filmmaker has included dedicated scenes that ties both trilogies together. Most notably the cameo appearances of Saruman (Christopher Lee), Lord Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and the Lady Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) in a scene that could come straight from a horror movie and that many young viewers may find disturbing.
Something you can't say about any Peter Jackson film is that he skimps on the special effects, and yet again, it seems he has out done himself in that department. The 3D wasn't too bad either. As always, Howard Shore supplies an atmospheric sound track but even that is eclipsed by the brilliant "The Last Goodbye" at the closing credits performed by Billy Boyd.
When the Hobbit was first announced as a trilogy, many wondered how Peter Jackson was going to pull it off. After all, Rings was a trilogy but there were, after all, three books to work on compared to the single tome of The Hobbit. But pull it off he did and The Battle of the Five Armies has to be the icing on his cake; a superb movie and a spectacular ending to a saga that has lasted the past thirteen years. Tolkien purists and naysayers will, I am sure, have a different opinion but I can't wait to see it again.