****MAJOR SPOILERS ALERT*****
If you are worried about finding out something that you didn't know, then don't read any more!
I can remember in the late 1990s hearing the news that someone was making The Lord of The Rings into a movie. I was so excited! Then as we rolled into the turn of the new century, more and more news came out including many pictures and clips. In April of 2000, the first trailer rolled out, and then in 2001 I charged to the theater to see this long anticipated movie.
The first movie was great, but the second was very frustrating if you liked the books. The third was better. Overall the movies were enjoyable, though they didn't follow the books as well as I liked.
Then they announced that The Hobbit would be made. Rumors started flying. They would do a movie, then 2 movies, and finally 3 movies. Three movies from a single book!
The first movie was very good, and I enjoyed it for the most part. It wasn't perfect though. The combat was over-the-top, and was a little annoying. Also, I hated the bunny rabbit sled!.
The second movie came out and it was even more over the top at times. The barrel riding fight scene was ridiculous.
Now, The Battle of The Five Armies
This movie had the usual great effects. I saw the 3D version, which was well done. You really feel immersed in the movie because of the well done 3D effects. It's worth a couple of extra dollars to see the 3D version if you can.
The movie starts off quickly. The first few minutes deal with Smaug's attack on Laketown. It deviates from the book some, but catches the spirit of the battle. I do think it might have lost something since it was in a separate movie. Unless you watch the second movie right before this, there is a little disconnect with the battle scene. Still, overall, this part was pretty well done.
Gandalf and the White Council
Next, we cut to Gandalf at Dol Guldur. Gandalf is there alone until Galadriel, Saruman and Elrond show up. They do battle with the Nazgul and eventually the Necromancer himself. This is exciting and it does a good job of foreshadowing Saruman's fall to Sauron. This took place behind the scenes in the book, but it makes a good addition for the whole overall storyline between the two sets of movies.
The Battle of The Five Armies
As the movie titles implies, this is the central element of the entire movie, however, for a movie named after this battle, most of the major storyline happens AWAY from the battle. The battle strays farther and farther from Tolkien's story. Once again fighting is way over the top with almost everyone being a bit of a ninja.
One of the things which made the battle so good in the books is that you never realized that they were about to fight the battle. No one had a clue that the orcs were coming until Gandalf showed up and said that they were there.
In the movie that was different. They kept telling us all through the beginning that an army was coming. There was no surprise, and yet the forces of good still weren't ready when the evil armies showed up.
Bard and all of the people from Laketown set up in the ruins of Dale, and there the orcs and trolls went about massacring a massive number of the civilians. Bard and his folks fight in here, which gets a good amount of coverage.
The main battle though gets very little. Dain and his dwarves along with Thranduil and his elves are seen fighting the first wave of orcs, but then that fight is only glimpsed a few times after that. Dain apparently had to leave his castle in Scotland and take his beloved pig with him. He has an awful accent and rides a pig into battle!
What they cover instead is Thorin and a couple of other dwarves go after Azog(who shouldn't even be there). Then Legolas and Tauriel follow to help. This leads to some of the most over the top scenes in the whole series. There is one where Legolas is fighting Bolg on a tower that is crumbling under his feet. He runs up rocks that are falling to the ground below. It is something from a cartoon!
You barely catch a glimpse of Beorn, and he doesn't get to kill Bolg, Legolas gets that honor here. You also never get to find out about what happened to the armies AFTER the battle. Thorin kills Azog, and then dies, and the battle is over. What happened to Dain? What happened to Bard? Did Beorn help at all?
The end of the movie just seems to be overedited and I would assume that some of those things will be resolved in the extended edition of the movie.
If you don't care if the movie follows the book, and you don't mind cartoonish action, then you will probably enjoy this movie because it is full of action, and flows together rather well. If you are a fan of Tolkien, then you will realize that this movie has very little similarities to the books, and at times is so over the top, that you may find yourself saying(as I did) at times, "This is stupid!"