Okay before anything.....SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
I will start out saying, if you've never read the books than you will probably enjoy this (albeit confused). If you've read the books and love them, as well and the LOTR movies, you will most likely end up like me...
Frustrated and disappointed to the point of crying. Yes...I actually cried after I left the theater.
Anywho, here's how it went. First seven or so minutes into the movie, Smaug attacks Laketown, buildings burn, Bard does his thang...Smaug dead. Now, though short, it hit a decent spot, good effects, action, and, once the arrow hit, Smaug's death fit with the book pretty dead on (not counting Bard not rallying the men for battle and the really sad exclusion of his awesome Black Arrow line) .
Okay, we have a start....and then it gets odd. Stuff goes all over the place from the cool/weird/unnecessary battle of the White Council on Dol Guldur (some things just need quick flashbacks i.e. Gandalf vs. Balrog in Two Towers) to the (again not really necessary) trek of Legolas and Tauriel to Gundabad.
When the battle finally starts it's actually laid out real well. Both the dwarves and elves are bad ass (I must commend the "training" of the elves, very good flow work between weapons, lines, etc...and the dwarves are just short masses of heavy armored awesome). The army of men isn't really an army (more like fishermen with pitchforks) but they have spirit and follow Bard without question. The other "two" armies are not quite spelled out for the audience. In the book, they are the goblins (not primarily orcs mind you) and the wolves/wargs. There are no wargs to speak of save the two Azog and Bolg ride, so I later assumed the "fifth" army was the eagles. The fight was cool, it showed some neat things, "flag signaling" by the orcs, Dain on a battle boar (I personally enjoyed that ), trolls with catapults (no point but neat idea)...so okay, no big deal, the battle itself was real fun to watch...
And....then we go to the main characters. This is where my tolerance of creative licence went away (and I've got a high tolerance guys)
To begin, too much Legolas (love the guy but yesh!), Bilbo ends up in the background a lot, the way they portrayed Thorin's "dragon sickness" had its ups and downs (gold lake vortex of doom?) and finally, the fight and deaths of Thorin, Fili and Kili. This is where I had to keep myself from walking out...
In the book, Thorin is gravely wounded, in my mind from a fierce battle with Bolg (in the movie's case Azog), and Fili and Kili leaped in and "defended him with shield and body" dying together like the true warriors and brothers they were.
Like this --->
Thorin is saved by Beorn who carries him out of battle and later kills Bolg himself. Thorin dies of his wounds after amending his friendship with Bilbo and is laid to rest in the mountain with the Arkenstone upon his breast (given by Bard) and Orcrist on his tomb (given by Thranduil). Dain becomes king and honors all agreements made by Thorin and everyone prospers more or less. Bilbo leaves the mountain with Gandalf and Beorn and soon gets home...the end.
In the movie, once Fili and Kili were sent to scout ahead for Thorin and Dwalin, (who kinda disappears later on) my gut started to tie up in knots as I knew BAD was going to happen...and not the bad I was hoping for.
Fili and Kili are lead into a trap of some kind where Fili is captured and executed in front of Thorin like a helpless child (which doesn't fit Fili at all if you look at him in the other two movies, he's a fighter and would have fought like a madman instead of getting caught like that). Kili, who I feel gets way too much screen time over his brother (Fili dies a good 15 minutes before Kili), has the unfortunate problem of being paired with Tauriel. Now, yeah, I'm not a fan of the couple here but I could bear it if Kili found his fate where he should, by Thorin and Fili's side in the middle of battle. It does kind of starts that way, where Kili is driven to avenge Fili, then...Tauriel shows up and what was left of the "power" behind Fili and Kili's death is destroyed by "I must save the love of my life" (if you're going to have him save her then have him save her, have a little romance whoop-dee-do, then have him go back into battle and die like he's meant to...too much to ask?)
Thorin's death was closer to what I had in mind yet still strayed a bit. Big fight between him and Azog on a frozen waterfall, Azog stabs Thorin, Thorin jams Orcrist to the hilt in Azog's chest...Azog dead. And then here comes the little ray of sunshine...Bilbo! He comes to comfort Thorin, telling him he'll be alright etc. etc., and Thorin gives his "farewell speech" pretty spot on with the book. You then burst into tears at the awesome that is Martin Freeman and........it's over...
You get a glimpse of the end of the battle with the eagles and a quick flash of Beorn, then we have Bilbo saying goodbye to the company, BAM edge of The Shire "goodbye Gandalf", the auction at Bag End (spot on this time) and flash forward to old Bilbo. Missing anything? Thorin, Dain, Bard, Thranduil, Beorn, etc. etc. nope, no idea what happened to those guys. Guess we'll have to see what the extended edition shows (not getting my hopes up though)
Well, in my heart I was hoping to end my run in Middle Earth on a high note and instead I have come to understand what Christopher Tolkien feels like...not cool.
5/10 Fun to watch, but far from the grandeur it could have been
------ And I'm done with random ramblings and off reading The Hobbit again