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'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies': Is it a satisfying end to the film trilogy?

'Battle,' which hits US theaters on Dec. 17, is the final movie in the film trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien's book 'The Hobbit.' It stars Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, and Richard Armitage.

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    The 'Hobbit' film series stars Martin Freeman.
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The final “Hobbit” movie, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” has received mixed reviews so far, with some critics praising the combat sequences but others saying the movie is too long and full of nods to fans.

“Battle” is the third in the trilogy of movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel “The Hobbit,” which follows the adventures of hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman of “Fargo”), wizard Gandalf (“X-Men: Days of Future Past” actor Ian McKellen), and dwarf Thorin (“Robin Hood” actor Richard Armitage), among others. The movie was already released in areas such as the UK and will hit theaters in the US on Dec. 17.

According to the review aggregator website Metacritic, “Battle” currently has a score of 62 out of 100. This is better than the first film, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which earned 58 out of 100, but lower than the series’ second installment, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which holds a score of 66.

One thing critics agree on: if you don’t like battles, this is not the movie for you, though the title may have tipped you off to that. 

Variety critic Scott Foundas wrote of the movie,

“The result is at once the trilogy’s most engrossing episode, its most expeditious (at a comparatively lean 144 minutes) and also its darkest… Only fans need apply… if 'The Battle of the Five Armies' feels psychologically weightier than the previous 'Hobbit' films, that’s largely a credit to Armitage… Jackson… invests his five-army rumble with such a visceral feeling for landscape and physical action, a sure eye for elaborate battlefield choreography and, above all, a sense of purpose, that he leaves most of the competition – including some of his own previous battle sequences – seeming like so much digital white noise… it’s hard not to marvel at Jackson’s facility with these characters and this world.” 

And Andrew Pulver of the Guardian found the film to be “a fitting cap to an extended series… just as enjoyable as each of the five films that came before it.” 

However, Inkoo Kang of TheWrap called the movie “lumbering and overstuffed.” 

“The 144-minute running time showcases Jackson’s worst tendencies: eons-long battle scenes, sloppy and abrupt resolutions, portentous romances, off-rhythm comic timing, and, newly in this case, patience-testing fan service,” Kang wrote.

And Tim Robey of the Telegraph called the film “a series of stomping footnotes in search of a climax.” 

“There’s more aftermath than plot left,” he wrote. “The last third is rescued by one meaty, entertaining set piece… [but] the film is… a paragraph on steroids.”

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