After complaining about it nonstop for the past year, I ended up seeing the film. WAY too long and far from perfect but I enjoyed it more than the last one. There was a number of good things, like the awesome barrel sequence. That whole stretch was pretty funny.
Freeman continues to nail it as Bilbo, even with the film forgetting he's the main star at times. Cumberbatch did a great job as the voice of Smaug. Evangeline Lilly's character was pretty good and I'm glad to see that go off well. After being a absolute brooding bore for the first movie and a half, Thorin FINALLY shows some charisma and badassness in the last half of the movie. Before that I wondered why the dwarves even bothered to hang around him. The spider sequence and Bilbo being a badass was pretty cool too.
However, The Hobbit is ultimately done in by the decisions of Peter Jackson. While an improvement, The Hobbit never should have been turned into a trilogy. It's a whimsical story about Bilbo Baggins and no matter what Jackson does, it's not going to be as epic or important as The Lord of the Rings. It's his massive love affair with his fading directing skills that led him to this decision and his inability to edit his films hurt it further. The end battle wasn't bad but dragged on forever.
On the bright side, between Smaug's attack on Lake Town, the rest of the Dol Goldur stuff and the Battle of the Five Armies, part three should be a roller coaster.
Do you REALLY believe that?
I see the opening battle with Smaug lasting no less than forty minutes because Peter Jackson doesn't edit his movies. The film should be a roller coast but I wouldn't be surprised if it cracks the three hour mark.
I hope one day they'll decide to do a true, one-movie remake of The Hobbit. Based on the book and not the considerable ego of Peter Jackson.