The second film of Peter Jackson's absurd stretching of J.R.R. Tolkien's short book, The Hobbit, picks up right where the first one left off. Bilbo and 13 Dwarves lead by the would-be king Thorin Oakenshield are crossing Middle Earth to confront the dragon Smaug who's taken over the dwarves historic home. Gandalf has other things to do and suddenly Legolas is in the picture. Instead of finding additional content from Tolkien's other stories (Silmarillion, etc.) and unpublished notes, Jackson decides to invent new characters to fill his expanded story/movie series.
As you might have noticed from my previous paragraph, I not the biggest fan of all the new/added material going on here. The problem lies in that there are so much going on in this film that it is hard to follow all the additional plot sequences. There's Bilbo and his new ring, Thorin and the dwarvish penance towards greed, the character Bard and his back-story and "Defender of the People" present story, Gandalf and Radagasts new story, etc., etc. There's just too much going on.
It upsets me that Peter Jackson felt Tolkien's book was unfinished and under-filled. I understand some expansion to fit a movie narrative, but I really feel he went a bit overboard. The movie is decent on it's own. The new character of Tauriel is excellently acted and actually a decent character, although the "love triangle" was a bit much. The other problem is that due toll the new storylines and extra people, the movie is surprisingly not very character driven. The fight scenes are very Michael Bay-esque in that they are there for visual stimulation instead of plot advancement and character development (i.e. Lord of the Rings Trilogy).
The Hobbit 2 is entertaining and visually stunning, but it's only that. The LotR series was entertaining, moving, deep, and true to fans of Tolkien's work. This second installation of The Hobbit is nothing but visually entertaining. Sure there are great performances such as Evangeline Lilly, Martin Freeman, and Lee Pace (insane!). Yet, the spackling of these great performances doesn't drown out the problems the movie contains. It's a middle of the pack film...oh but the credit's song is killer!
Note: This starts the beginning of my LMMR ( Last Minute Movie Reviews...pronounced Lemur ) series. These reviews will be of In Theater movies, but after you've read everyone else take on the film and probably have seen the movie...and might not even care.