Wow, the movie was a spectacle of visual thrills, witty moments and stunning battlefield slaughter. And sure, there were the usual sequences where the entire audience sat in awe of one entirely unbelievable stunt or other—I could actually sense when everyone in the audience saw something and realized that it really was insulting to their intelligence. As to the scenes of wholesale slaughter, of which there were many, I found it truly amazing that parents had brought their 4- and 5-year-old kids along to bear witness. Really, this is one of those points I try to stress as strongly as possible when I review a film: if you put people together with dinosaurs in a movie, you’ll run out of cast members in a hurry—likewise, if a movie is centrally-themed about turf wars, as is the Hobbit trilogy and happens to carry the title of Battle of the Five Armies, heads are going to literally roll!! Clearly it is bad parenting to expose children of any age to nightmare-inducing blood-drenched battle sequences. I just hope that these same children scream so loudly in the night that their parents don’t get a decent night’s sleep for weeks.
Other than that, I loved it and found it truly paralleled the written storyline of the book. Visually, as I mentioned earlier, it was a little over-the-top; the production crew could have reined-in the FX department, but it was the last movie in the trilogy, so I’m sure that no memos were sent that month. At the end of the movie, every cast member was identified with both their names (in huge typeface) and artist’s renderings of their character likenesses in pencil and charcoal–really impressive. And yes, the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch played the voice of Smaug and Martin Freeman portrayed Bilbo Baggins once again astonished me as I remember near-role-reversals in the Sherlock series. Lots of fun for the observant movie-goer. If you get the chance—no, what am I saying…I doubt you’d want to remember this particular journey in a visual format as opposed to the printed page. But I can’t wait until the libraries get it on DVD!!