Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Mark Pokorny

Sadly, Battle of The Five Armies marks the end of The Hobbit

IT IS hard to sum up how I feel after watching The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies.

On one hand it was a thoroughly enjoyable movie filled with heart and plenty of action. But on the other, it is the end of the Middle Earth journey. The last goodbye.

The movie starts right where The Desolation of Smaug ended, with the dragon Smaug taking off to destroy Lake-town while Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and the 13 dwarves watch on hopelessly.

I was disappointed with the death of the dragon (is it a spoiler if the book came out 77 years ago?) as it felt a little rushed. But I guess there was a lot of action to get through.

So with Smaug destroyed, the poor homeless people of Lake-town make for The Lonely Mountain to seek shelter and the portion of the treasure promised by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) in the previous film.

However, a sickness has overcome Thorin, who is now obsessed with keeping all of the treasure and locating the Arkenstone. He becomes paranoid that one of the company has taken it ... which Bilbo has.

But he brings the stone to Bard (Luke Evans) to avoid a war with men and the Elvenking Thranduil (Lee Pace) who turns up to reclaim some particular jewels (and probably a little bit of revenge for the dwarves escaping his jail).

Thorin is all for war until the orcs arrive (sent by the shadow, Sauron) and the Battle of The Five Armies commences with the dwarves, men and elves uniting together against evil, later to be joined by the eagles, Radagast the wizard and Beorn the skin-changer.

I had the pleasure of seeing the film while on holiday in New Zealand to capture my own Middle Earth experience.

To make it even more magical there was a special thank-you presentation to New Zealanders.

First a flash through some pivotal moments in The Lord of the Rings trilogy leading into the actors of The Hobbit telling of their great experiences while filming in New Zealand.

Like many people I couldn't see how a small children's book like The Hobbit could make three movies, but after now watching all three, it manages to work.

Luke Evans as Bard in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
Luke Evans as Bard in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Warner Bros Pictures

Sure, it doesn't quite end up in the same class as its bigger brother Lord of the Rings, but as a set of three it is pretty enjoyable and a good way to lead into the original trilogy.

I enjoyed new character Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and the budding romance with dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner), which provided many heart-wrenching moments.

The Battle of The Five Armies leads right into The Fellowship perfectly. I enjoyed Thranduil's advice to son Legolas (Orlando Bloom) to look up a Ranger from the North called Strider. But there was not a lot on the remaining dwarves, even though we discover their fate in Fellowship.

I would have liked to have seen more of Bilbo back in the Shire and how he comes to adopt his nephew Frodo. But one can hope there is more in the extended edition out late next year. The end credits are performed by Billy Boyd (Pippin from The Lord of the Rings) and fittingly called The Last Goodbye.

And I won't lie, this made me tear up more than some other parts of this movie, because after so many years, it really is time to say goodbye to Middle Earth.

The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies opens on Boxing Day.