I wondered as I was watching The Hobbit #2 or The Desolation of Smaug as it is called what Tolkien would make of it. I guess we will never know but I suspect not much. It was a good film compared to what else is out there but it could have been so much more. Or less. Before the film began there were the obligatory previews of coming attractions, all of which assaulted the senses with visual displays of things blowing up, and the hero fighting unbelievable battles against insurmountable odds, and, of course, prevailing - without a scratch. Unfortunately, when the film began, after some slow moments, the same display of very loud, very visually overwhelming displays of our heroes overcoming terrible obstacles commenced again. There were too many decapitated Orcs and the scenes of Smaug arising from his slumber and causing mayhem were overly long. My complaint is that so many films today seem like they follow the same formula: Keep the viewer entertained with over the top action sequences. There are so many fighting scenes (against huge spiders, and Orcs, and Smaug, etc) in The Hobbit #2 that the characters get overlooked. Bilbo is an afterthought, I thought. I am not saying I did not enjoy the movie. I did, but I was disappointed. The critics I read liked Hobbit #2 better than Hobbit #1because it had more action. I didn't. There was no humor in this second Hobbit film. None. Tolkien would not have approved. There is a new female hero who was not in Tolkien's book. She is a good addition to the story but was a romantic angle necessary? The plot hardly seems to move in this second film. I wondered if there was a need other than economic to drag out the story over three films. This was almost three hours long (much too long for some people to sit through and hold one's attention - especially after 30 minutes of mindless previews). Yet, I would encourage people to go see the film. I did not see it in 3D or Imax although they are available. I doubt they add much to the effect of the movie.
Now for what I did like. The creation of the background scenes are highly enjoyable: the elvish kingdom in the dark woods, Smaug's lair under the mountain, and the impoverished city of the humans are well done. Peter Jackson has brought out some of the Christian symbolism (which Tolkien claimed was not there but some readers find anyway) especially in the battle between Gandalf and Sauron - one of the best scenes in the film. Look for Gandalf on the cross. In this dark film there are brilliant reminders of the LIGHT. Gandalf's scenes are one of them as is the healing scene with Tauriel.
The fault of this movie is that it tries too hard to be like most of today's action movies but the story it tells of the Hobbit is a great one. One of the greatest of all time and it is interesting to see how Jackson puts it on film.