Y'know, I reread the book last year and I can't remember.
Well, here's my review.
Lighting, casting, camera work, costumes, fight choreography, makeup, set design, sound, and special effects were all excellent, as always. The film will undoubtedly be nominated for at least one Academy Award in any of these areas, possibly several, and may even win a few.
The story is ... okay. It's an odd place to split the book. Smaug is killed off awfully quickly, and while I'm not a screaming Benedict Cumberbatch fangirl, I would have liked to have seen more of the effect and the effort to kill him. What did it take, four arrow shots? Something like that. The use of the kid's shoulder as a bow rest (is that the term?) was neat but the kid just didn't seem scared enough for real dramatic effect.
Moving onto Thorin. Richard Armitage did what he could with the material he was given, but there's no journey there. When the second film ended (as I recall; it's been a year since I saw it and that was just the one time), he was regular old noble Thorin. But when he's first seen in the third film, he's already got gold fever.
Wait ... what?
I know this happens to him. Like I said, I've read the book. But for the film to make more sense, it would have worked better to have had some of the dwarves and Bilbo talking about him slipping deeper into it, and maybe even talking to him about it (more than was seen; it felt as if the development of his personality change was edited out of the finished film). It could have been foreshadowed better in the second film as well. Instead, it almost feels shoehorned in, and that isn't the right impression. It's a major plot point, but it has no real ramp up. Contrast this with how Frodo's lust for the ring (and addiction to it) were carefully developed during The Two Towers
Other elements had no foreshadowing; it's as if that was edited out of the third film. For example, Thorin has a brother. What? He even tells Fili and Kili (and I think also Dwalin?) that they are his sisters' (I assume more than one, as Fili and Kili are brothers but Dwalin or whoever else he's talking to isn't) sons. Nobody is mentioned as being his brother's
son. That would have been a great opportunity to briefly showcase and give a little face time to some of the more nameless dwarves, like Ori, Dori, and Nori.
The problem of waaaaayyy too many dwarves is Tolkein's. He wanted so desperately to have the original party be composed of an unlucky thirteen members that he didn't take into account that he needed to do something or other with all of those people.
I think Jackson did as well as he could to make them as individual as possible. Hairstyles and costumes helped a lot.
But - egad - at the end, I had some trouble telling the stunt Kili from the stunt Thorin, until I realized that the Kili character was wearing a kind of bronze-colored outfit, whereas the Thorin character was in more of a tinny-colored costume.
Adding the Tauriel character of course throws canon out the window, and then they needed to wrap up her story line. I wanted to see her die. It's not that I don't like Evangeline Lilly, and I think the character was just fine, but that would explain the LOTR films a lot better. Where was Tauriel in those? There's no way to retcon that. Here you have a great archer, so why wasn't she battling the Orcs et. al and fighting Saruman?
Galadriel got some badass stuff to do so that begged the question of why she didn't do it in the LOTR films. Weakening her afterwards is all well and good, and it semi-explains things, but the LOTR films occur some 40 (50?) years later. Isn't elvish medicine good enough to get her well by then?
Azog was meh, and I kept looking at his arm and seeing a Klingon bat'leth.
A few places where foreshadowing worked for the LOTR films were with Legolas leaving Thrandiul although they are not father and son in canon. Another was where Gandalf tells Legolas to seek out a young ranger who goes by Strider. For Sauron to say he'll handle Sauruman is also a good bit of foreshadowing. You can see that he's being seduced by that power, although I would have liked to have seen more of that. If there's ever a call for tie-in novels, I would love to write that.
Then there's Alfrid. What happens to him? Does he escape? It would have worked better for me if he had declared, in a quickie throwaway line, "I'm off to Rohan, where they know how to treat a man of my stature." And you put two and two together and realize he's the father of Grima Wormtongue.
Three stars out of five.