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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies / Rated PG-13 for violence including impaling, decapitations and trampling.

Finally: the end of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Six movies. The journey is finally over. Maybe. The adventures that started with the LOTR trilogy back in 2001, finally make it to an actual finale 13 years later. The Hobbit films were actually a three-film prequel. They should have come first. But then, who knew then that the LOTR series would be an immense money-printing machine?

Lets get right to it. First, I only counted three armies. But there were a lot of computer-generated combatants, so maybe there were five. THTBOTFA takes up where the last film left off. The big dragon was about to attack and burn up a nice little resort town where everybody baked cookies and did crafts. Now we see the attack. It’s bad. This dragon is not the Pete’s Dragon (1977) Disney sort of dragon. This guy talks and breathes fire – like he has the sun inside and it’s trying to get out. Result: town destroyed.

Meanwhile, the Hobbits are still trying to find the Arkenstone inside the mountain castle full of the Dwarves’ gold. The dragon that ruled the castle and destroyed the town is dead. A ground-to-air missile took him out. Out to get the gold are destitute villagers, as well as the Elf and Orc armies. See: three, not five, armies.

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There’s a lot of talking and suffering. The search through the mountain for the Arkenstone isn’t going well because Bilbo – aka The Hobbit – has it hidden in his pocket along with the Ring that will cause trouble in times to come. He’s not sure what to do because, despite being a wise hobbit, on this occasion he’s in way over his head.

Eventually all of the armies meet on the field of battle and a really big fight ensues. The computer-generated armies put up a spirited fight, even in comparison to other computer-generated army fighting, which is pretty much the norm in current movies. However, at one point, when an ugly Orc challenges the alliance of Elves, Dwarves, and Men, the fighting becomes a cartoonish and recalls the hapless Wile E. Coyote in his quest to catch The Roadrunner.

Eventually – big surprise – the alliance triumphs. But not until millions of computer-generated combatants fall, and destruction covers the countryside.

For fans of the series, Peter Jackson has delivered the goods. For other viewers it looks like a repeat of all the previous big battles. While composer Howard Shore reuses his primary themes, his music adds an emotional support to the pathos and irony that seemed overwhelmed in previous editions of the story.

If you haven’t seen the previous two films, the finale won’t mean much; so watch those movies first. For dragon lovers, the Disney version of Pete’s Dragon is being remade for a 2016 release date with Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford in key roles. You can bet he will not hoard gold and destroy villages. The dragon, that is – not Howard or Redford.

Rated 3.0 out of 4.0 reasons you can bet the other lesser known works of JRR Tolkien are being explored for film possibilities. Multi-part films.

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