An entertaining enough film bogged down by far too much unnecessary CGI and some pacing problems.
Peter Jackson returns with his second (!) Hobbit film and I dare say the cracks are starting to show. Myriad parts of Tolkien's appendices make an appearance here including the completely redundant fan-service of Legolas.
McKellan is great yet again as Gandalf the Grey and Martin Freeman continues to put his own stamp on Bilbo, but when these two aren't on screen the film suffers for the most part. The other performances range from decent to mesmerizing but Jackson just can't seem to stay focused for very long. I found myself deathly bored for extended periods of the film which is something that rarely happens with this series.
Those gripes aside, it was pretty enjoyable overall and I'll certainly buy it when released on home video, if just to complete the set.
If you see this for one thing, see it for the titular dragon, Smaug. He truly is a sight to behold and in a film filled with overzealous CG effects, the work put into this beast is very effective. Smaug, like Gollum before, looks like a living breathing creature. So much so that I half-expected a "Dragon Wrangler" credit during the ending scrawl.
If you're a fan of the series you're going to ignore all of my gripes and see it anyway, and who am I to stop you? It's an entertaining adventure for the most part just don't expect the heights of the original trilogy.