And so it comes to an end -- again.
Some might argue that, having taken the dense Lord of the Rings trilogy and condensed it into three monumental films, Peter Jackson should have had no trouble turning The Hobbit into an equally enjoyable and involving one-off.
The slimmest of J.R.R. Tolkien's volumes, The Hobbit has been extended to a trilogy of its own. While these films have felt like overkill at times, the Oscar-winning Jackson brings it home with a bang with this final film in what has to stand, collectively, as the greatest achievement in extended fantasy storytelling in movie history.
Jackson has done something that will likely never be done again: It's not just that he got these movies made the way he wanted -- but that the way he did it was of such consistently high quality.
Obviously, at this point, if you haven't seen the first two installments of The Hobbit, you're not going to be able to make much sense of what's happening here. As he's done all along, Jackson simply drops you headlong into the action at the point he left it in the last movie. Even if you've seen the films, it may take you a few minutes to remember where you were.
The dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) has been angered into attacking Lake Town, where the woodsman Bard (Luke Evans) is the only one who can kill him with the last Black Arrow.
Meanwhile, the Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) -- well, really, is there any point in rehashing the plot? If you've seen the first two movies or if you've read the book, you know the story and what this final chapter needs to enfold. And if you haven't, well, you probably don't care. Suffice to say that there's a battle for the gold in the mountain that the Dwarves have reclaimed, as well as lessons to be learned about the corrupting nature of wealth and power.
This review continues on my website.