Michael J. Tresca reviewed:
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Combo Pack)
Smaug, who was the best part of the second film (SPOILER ALERT) meets his end in this one. It feels a bit anticlimactic. Smaug could have just as easily succumbed at the end of the second film, leaving it a more satisfying chapter. But the showdown between Bard (Luke Evans) and Smaug is thrilling nonetheless as Peter Jackson contrasts family values against that of the rapacious greed.
In stark relief is the real and petty grievances that move the various factions to war. Be it Tauriel's (Evangeline Lilly, an elf in real life) love for Kili (Aidan Turner), Legolas Greenleaf's (Orlando Bloom) rebellion against his king Thranduil (Lee Pace), or Gandalf's (Ian McKellen) attempts to convince mortals of the true threat of Sauron, the familiar characters in this prequel to the "Lord of the Rings" films all make an appearance. We witness the terrifying might of Galadriel glimpsed in the later film, Elrond wield a sword, and even Saruman kicks some Nazgul butt. It's a joy to watch these powerful beings who stood around giving advice in the later movies really cut loose in this one.
There are also visual flourishes that tie all the films together. The more humanoid trolls from the first film stand beside the larger trolls of the "Lord of the Rings." Goblins and orcs work together. Legolas, Tauriel, and even Radagast (Sylvester McCoy) show up to do battle. We even get an explanation for what a were-worm is. Purists may be disappointed by how much Jackson veers from the original story, but the choices made to bolster the narrative are easy to forgive.
There are two scenes where the film drags, both of them involving a character's mental state. There's also the awful Alfrid (Ryan Gage), who is a lot like Grima Wormtongue but with no character development and played for laughs. He's not funny, but it's clear Jackson felt that the tone of the film was so grim it had to be lightened by a cowardly buffoon.
The one character who has little to do in this third chapter is the titular Hobbit himself, Bilbo. J.R.R. Tolkien's narrative didn't thrust hobbits into war until The Lord of the Rings, so Bilbo sits most of the battle out. His actions have far-reaching effects on the war itself, but mostly Bilbo's there to show how incorruptible hobbits really are. Unlike his dwarven compatriots, Bilbo finds no lure in dragon gold.
"The Battle of Five Armies" isn't perfect, but it's a fitting finale to a six-part franchise. The real test will be in years to come when future Middle Earth fans view the films collectively. Will we watch them in chronological order? I look forward to finding out.