To 3D Or Not To 3D: Buy The Right Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies Ticket

After nearly one and a half decades, Peter Jackson’s cinematic adventure in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth is coming to an end – and it’s doing so in rather epic fashion. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies meets every definition of giant blockbuster, and like its predecessors in the trilogy, it will be released in both 3D and 2D formats. But, of course, the question always loomed: is the extra dimension worth the extra money for the ticket?

You can read our theatrical review of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies here to find out whether the film as a whole is worth your time, but what you’ll find below is our full breakdown of the movie’s use of 3D using categorical analysis. Read on to find our results!

Fit Score


Along with animation, big, epic blockbusters with a good amount of CGI are typically seen as the best projects for 3D, and it’s hard to argue against The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’s case. The film is almost entirely made up of huge battle sequences and dragon destruction, and those kinds of scenes really are perfect in 3D. Also, this is the final chapter in a trilogy that has been made up of 3D films, so there’s an extra level of fitting there as well.

Planning & Effort Score


When Peter Jackson entered on the filmmaking journey that his adaptation of The Hobbit, he decided to do so with two modern filmmaking techniques that weren’t really do-able at the time he made Lord of the Rings: higher frame rates and 3D. And while the former turned out to be kind of a bust, there’s no ignoring the fact that Jackson made these movies with an extra dimension in mind. It’s not a post-conversion job, and was part of the cinematography plan from the start of production. Hence the perfect score.

Before the Window Score


When we refer to "Before the Window," it’s our assessment of the 3D element that allows characters and things to actually come off of the screen and into the audience. Sadly, this has largely come to be seen as the "gimmicky" side of the technology, and as a result it doesn’t appear as much in blockbusters that take themselves a bit seriously. Peter Jackson does add touches in here and there – one of the most notable instances being a moment with Thorin Oakenshield’s sword as he prepares for a fight – but sadly The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is lacking in a legitimate department.

Beyond the Window Score


Instead of focusing on the "Before the Window," Peter Jackson instead really focused all of his energy on using 3D to bring depth and scope to the world of Middle-earth, and in that mission he succeeded. As mentioned earlier, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is almost entirely big action sequences, and Jackson does a great job of pulling the audience into the movie and creating a visual spectacle that appears to extend miles and miles beyond the screen.

Brightness Score


There is unfortunately a degree of subjectivity in this category, as some theaters don’t use their projectors to their highest specs in order to save money on expensive bulbs, but there certainly is a degree to which filmmakers can control how the brightness of a movie is affected by the audience wearing shaded 3D glasses. In the case of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, what we have is mostly great – particularly because a good deal of the big war scenes happen outdoors in daylight. That being said, when the night does start to come in the movie world, there was definitely a bit of murkiness that hampered a few scenes.

Glasses Off Score


Anyone who has ever taken off their glasses during a 3D movie knows that they are pretty difficult to watch due to the fact that what you’re seeing are two angled images being projected right on top of one another. What’s interesting, though, is that the blurriness of the image is often telling of the quality of the 3D simply because you can see how many layers of depth the filmmaker is working with. Occasionally taking off my glasses while watching The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies I was mostly pleased with what I saw, as with the exception of some sequences, most were unwatchable without the corrective lenses.

Audience Health Score


This is another slightly subjective category, as individuals regularly have varying reactions to the 3D experience, but there are steps filmmakers can take towards reducing headaches and nausea – namely by establishing clear focal points and making sure that the audience always knows exactly where they are supposed to be looking. I am very happy to report that I felt completely fine throughout my screening of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and I’m confident that you will as well.


3D Fit


P & E


Before The Window


Beyond The Window




Glasses Off Test


Audience Health


Total Score


Final Verdict: A score of 30/35 is a strong score, and based on technical achievement we would recommend seeing The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies in 3D. Director Peter Jackson has once again shown that he is quite adept as using the technology, and he uses it often in great ways in his newest film. Whether or not viewers want to see the movie in 3D may be partially dependent on how they saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in theaters, but if you paid a little extra to see the first two, we suggest you put down the dough again this time.

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Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.