"Will you have peace...or war?"
It was not the grand, epic finale I thought it was, but still a solid, entertaining chapter that gives us one last taste of Middle-Earth, and tying all - well, almost all - loose threads from the previous 5 chapters in the saga. It's not to say it's not good, it's just not as epic as how Return of the King ended the previous trilogy...but, heck, I can't even find anything bad about this movie.
The action sequences were every bit as fun as I can hope for. Powerful rhythms of the armies' movement, cool whacking and slashing of the axes and the blades, and some weirdly awesome action piece by Legolas (he always gets to do the weird & cool stuff). And some very emotional fights between our main heroes and villains also made it much more significant. And I have just seen one of the coolest fights ever...the one in Dol Guldur...you'll know it when you see it. It is just mind-blowingly cool.
Speaking of Dol Guldur, that scene itself actually holds one of the most important ties to the LOTR trilogy. It doesn't exactly & immediately ties in, but fans can easily guess what it meant & how it can unfold into the LOTR trilogy they know. Throughout the film, there are other bits like this that does the same - some towards the end, yet some also in the middle as well. The plot on its own feel straightforward, but it's these plot ties that made it such a meaningful story to tell.
The first two films made it feel safe & fun with no protagonist deaths. This one cranked up the emotional lever, and has dramatic deaths for - without spoiling anything - a few of them. Meanwhile, there is humour along the way to keep this climactic event light & fun - most of it coming from one comic relief character. But still good, fun humour anyway.
Thranduil had a large role throughout, and I was satisfied by how Lee Pace pulled it off. Evangeline Lilly is also awesome, especially throughout the final moments. Martin Freeman & Ian Mckellen had always been awesome since the start, meanwhile Luke Evans as Bard has some very cool, entertaining acts. But it was Richard Armitage as Thorin that successfully portrays a sickness within, before rallying his company for one last march into battle.
And the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug is just...ohh...perhaps the best voice I've ever heard of. The mix of the actor's brilliant intonation & pronunciation, mixed with the growling effect of the dragon is just - mind-blowing!! I can't help it, sorry. Overall, though, the film is very solid & entertaining, with majestic moments that simply dazzle. While not as epic as LOTR trilogy, I'm proud to call this Hobbit trilogy one of the best in recent times, and I can't to watch the whole trilogy back to back to back (and back again).
Good: Awesome & cool action sequences, Defining plot points, Decent emotional drama, Excellent humour, Brilliant cast
Bad: Straightforward plot