Action Packed with Stunning Visuals
At this point in The Hobbit trilogy, I've come to realize it will not be The Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit just doesn't have the gravity or depth of the original movies. But, that doesn't stop me from enjoying these new installments for what they are. And it won't stop you, either if you put aside comparisons and enjoy the adventure and spectacle.
I love revisiting Tolkien's world even though much of it is rehashed from the originals. You have the spiders wrapping people up in cocoons, the Prancing Pony scene when scary people are staring across the tavern, the point at which Gandalf has to leave the group, and the entrance to the mysterious elf house. He even includes exact quotes from the originals- "It was but a dream," and "a sleepless malice," said by the Elf King- you can see where Legolas gets the phrase! Some of it is a little repetitive, but a lot of it is like revisiting an old friend.
I was a little disappointed in the return of Legolas. He seems colder, meaner, and doesn't even crack a smile. He's lost the friendly, sarcastic wit of the originals. Maybe he doesn't develop it until later on when he's free of his oppressive father?
The Elf King was very, very cool.
I liked how they explain why he's not fond of dragons, and how he hides that fact. He's a slippery character, and you're not sure if he's good or bad, or if Thorin Oakenshield can trust him. I hope he makes a return in the last installment.
Overall, the movie goes by at a quick pace that kept me interested throughout. Totally recommended.