I think the movie--and the series in general, so far--is much better than it is given credit for. Jackson didn’t take as many liberties as one would have expected. Below will be observations, pros, and cons:
They did a great job with King Thranduil (Lee Pace). They captured his amorality perfectly. I thought the quasi-romance between Tauriel and Kili was well-done. I understand why purists are upset, but I don’t see what was lost. For those who are upset at Gandalf’s actions at the end of the movie, I would remind you that Gandalf himself mentions he “knew the dungeons of Dol Goldur” in Fellowship of the Ring.
Is Thranduil a Reformed amillennialist? It appears so. Let the world rot as long as we are okay in our little confines. Similarly, Thorin is the archetypal Fox News Conservative: technically on the right side but completely without principles.
- Like all of Jackson’s productions, the cinematography was perfect.
- The “Barrel Ride” may be the finest 15 minutes ever put on film.
- I have no problem with Jackson’s including Legolas. He appears more masculine than in the original trilogy.
- The Smaug section was way over-embellished, but certainly enjoyable.
- Tauriel was perfectly cast, all purists aside.
- The scene between Throrin and Thranduil: the dwarven language is like German: perfect for swearing.
- I don’t think anything was added by including Radagast (esp. in the first film). In fact, I thought the book’s allusions to Radagast, but never his appearance, is what made R. so interesting.
- The cliffhanger ending (even for those who know the story) is annoying.