By Keith Staskiewicz
December 10, 2014 at 05:00 AM EST
Mark Pokorny
  • Movie
  • Action Adventure

”Even dragons have their endings,” observes Bilbo in a late chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Peter Jackson’s big-screen adaptation of Tolkien’s 320-page tale was itself a bit of a dragon: three films, nearly two decades from conception, and more than a half-billion dollars in the making. And now it is coming to a close with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. ”I’ve been doing this for a long while, but there’s no time for nostalgia yet,” says Jackson. ”We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

Jackson and his special-effects crew at Weta are burning the midnight oil to finish the final installment, easily the most ambitious of the trilogy. ”The very end of The Hobbit is a very different piece of storytelling from the front of The Hobbit,” says co-writer and co-producer Philippa Boyens. ”It’s much grander and historical in scope.”

And while the trilogy’s own dragon — the fearsome, avaricious Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) — will indeed meet his end, that’s only the beginning of the enormous, CGI-testing battle of the title. Jackson insists that he won’t lose his heroes’ personal journey amid the bombast. ”We definitely have big emotional moments in this,” he says. ”So hopefully we’ll get you crying again with this one.”