This post has spoilers so read at your peril.

So I just went to see 'The Battle of Five Armies' at the movies with the lovely writer of Spencer Jacobs, and I had some thoughts about the movie I wanted to share and see if others agreed.
  • It was probably unnecessary. I'll discuss the good points and bad below, but my overriding impression was that the whole movie was probably unnecessary. I think the Hobbit would have done better as two lean films, probably breaking the first one after leaving Laketown and heading for the Mountain or perhaps being captured by the Elves. As it is this movie feels bloated, and as I discuss later, doesn't even resolve all the plot threads!

So, on to the good.
  • Magnificent visuals. This is a beautiful, spectacular film. The battle scenes, the armies, the scenery, all of it is gorgeous. It really is one of the best looking films ever.
  • Good acting. Even despite the plot downsides the acting is still good. Peter Jackson seems able to get the best out of his people so there were really no loose threads there.
  • The White Council do something. Seeing the White Council actually get off their asses and do something was worth the admission price alone.
  • Music and atmosphere. Once again Howard Shore did a brilliant job with the music for this film, and the atmospheric sounds are great too.
  • Enjoyable. Despite everything below, this is a very enjoyable film. It's and a great ride. So despite whatever else I might say, I'm glad it was made and very glad I saw it.

The Bad.
  • Loose threads. For a movie which is 2.5 hours long and is proceeded by 2 equally long movies, it sure leaves a lot of stuff undone. There's no scenes at all for resolution about who gets the mountain, the treasure, what Saruman does, what happens to Tauriel, why there are giant worms and so on. If anything it feels slightly rushed, or open to a big extended edition, which is not what you need for a movie already as bloated as this.
  • Overdramatic. Somehow this movie manages to have more action, more drama and more spectacle than Return of the King, which is in every way a bigger film. The action scenes are excessively choreographed and dramatic, to the point that it bears no relation to the source material.
  • A very shallow adaptation. As in the previous movies of this series, it seems that Peter Jackson is happiest when he is making up his own things. When he has to follow the book's plot, it's done in a very perfunctory way. Indeed, some of the actions which take place in this film which come from the book seem totally out of place. Bilbo slipping over the wall is the perfect example here, since Thranduil is a total jerk it all seems rather out of place.

And finally the most odd thing of all.
  • Teleportation. The Hobbit novel had a rather generalised deal with distances, but Lord of the Rings created a very reliable map and gave good distances. This is why it is weird that in the Hobbit movies people seem to teleport hundreds of miles. For example, Legolas and Tauriel go to Mount Gundabad and come back, an army just behind them. This is a distance of 350 miles in a straight line one way, going over numerous rivers and rough ground. Now, had there been any indication of elapsed time this would be fine, but it seems like the whole movie takes place in less than a week. Another example, the White Council show up at Dol Guldur, having not being told that Sauron was there by anyone (except possibly Galadrial's telepathy) a distance of 300 miles over the Misty Mountains and Great River.
It doesn't make the movie less enjoyable, but it does make it a little weird to watch, since one is always wondering why Frodo doesn't just quantum tunnel his way to Mordor a few decades later.

On another note, does anyone think they'll be a movie set between the Hobbit and LOTR? There is room to do Aragorn's early years, his time with Legolas, Saruman's fall and so on, but it'd have to be pretty much entirely invented by Peter Jackson, and it probably would not be very good.