It is finished. Director Peter Jackson, who has spent most of the past 15 years of his career in Middle Earth, has finally completed his cinematic tenure there.

It is finished. Director Peter Jackson, who has spent most of the past 15 years of his career in Middle Earth, has finally completed his cinematic tenure there.

And I do mean finally. As the third chapter of his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" comes to an end, the full breadth of how drawn out it was comes into focus.

"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" picks up right where "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" left off, which was immediately after the events of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."

I hammer this point home because the decision to expand "The Hobbit" - which was about as long as each book of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy - feels more unnecessary and excessive than ever.

Not, mind you, because "Battle of the Five Armies" doesn't deliver a ticket's worth of entertainment. Jackson staging his biggest (and longest) battle sequence yet guarantees that. It's sweeping and epic. Who knew there were new ways to kill an orc?

That said, an opening sequence featuring the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) bringing down the desolation on a village only emphasizes how much of a tease the second chapter was.

Though the three-movie approach seems more and more like a money grab, Jackson does have a clear love for the material. He gets some misty moments out of the conclusion of Bilbo Baggins' (Martin Freeman) epic journey and the fall and redemption of dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). The forbidden elf-on-dwarf love of Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and Kili (Aiden Turner) tries really hard, but it's less of a tear-jerker.

"Battle of the Five Armies" isn't terribly overlong, clocking in around 2 1/2 hours, but it isn't exactly well-paced. I couldn't help but note how some of the dramatic scenes seem a little sillier after we've all become accustomed to the high bar for fantasy set by "Game of Thrones" on this front.

Final verdict: The titular battle is worth seeing on the big screen. Jackson could have (and should have) pulled this story off in one less movie, but you've come too far on the journey to turn back now, right?