I’m well on record as a moderately harsh critic of Jackson’s Hobbit films, if “moderately harsh critic” means I think they shouldn’t exist. They have their fun moments and some good performances, but they’re just . . . well, okay, like I said, I’m on record with all my criticisms of the first two installments. But I have to say that I really enjoyed this one. It’s the first of these films to really capture in any serious way the epic feeling of Middle Earth. No, it doesn’t totally work; I still have no ******* idea what that whole thing with the mayor and, most especially, his absolutely annoying little assistant is about and even when he’s in only ten minutes of the movie, Smaug has too much screen time. But I liked the energy of the film and while I understand the criticisms that it isn’t particularly Tolkien-esque and that it is a dumbing down of Jackson’s original trilogy, and frankly agree with them, those things don’t take away from the fact that this movie is raucously entertaining. The battle sequences just work really well; the action is, like the barrel sequence in TDoS, often ridiculous in a way that the original trilogy rarely was, but still very fun and engaging. And ultimately I found Thorin’s story-line to wrap up in a fittingly emotional way and I was glad the film didn’t chicken out in order to keep the tone light, as in the first two installments. At least it ends on a high note, if not a great one. Recommended. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – flawed movie is surprisingly entertaining and succeeds to a large degree; huge improvement over the first two installments, even if it is still shallower and glossier than it should be. 3 ½ stars