I will begin with an equation: (M. Night Shyamalan + Michael Bay)George Lucas = Peter Jackson, 2013.
My proof follows.
Shyamalan first burst onto the scene with The Sixth Sense, a brilliant movie; as he continued making movies, no one told him no, and he became an exemplar of solemnly ridiculous movie-making. It is increasingly apparent that Fellowship of the Ring is Jackson's best work. Everything since then has been downhill, though the next two parts of that trilogy weren't terribly far down. Michael Bay never found a nonsensical action sequence he didn't like, nor a way to add more CGI he wouldn't use; Peter Jackson now follows in his footsteps. All this is compounded by Jackson's screenplay, which might have better dialogue than George Lucas, but makes up for it by having stupider character motivations. The only thing that remains is to laugh so that we may not cry. What follows is my attempt.
Question: Which of the following events actually happens in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug?
A. Bilbo takes off his ring while staring directly into Smaug's face.
B. Smaug is unable to crawl fast enough to catch the dwarves he wishes he could kill, apparently forgetting he can breathe fire.
C. Beorn dislikes dwarves so much that when he finds out they have broken into his house while he was away, he gives them ponies.
D. Gandalf goes to Dol Goldur with Radagast. After determining their enemy is not yet ready to attack, but that entering would certainly put him in a trap, he tells Radagast to leave while he goes in alone.
E. All of the above.
The answer, of course, is E. I would say that having multiple idiot balls* for characters to pass around is the worst thing about this movie, except that there is so much else wrong with it. Let us start with the dragon. The animation is excellent, and he looks pretty real--a pity they never let him do anything interesting. Oh, you thought there was an awesome dragon fight in this film? No no no. That has to wait for the third film. In this film you get a lot of running around and the occasional nonsensical attempt to defeat him, all while the film broadly telegraphs There Is Only One Way To Defeat The Dragon,** then hides the magic black arrow of deadly power in some random boat, while the one true archer of destiny runs around elsewhere. Sure hope he finds it again by 2014.
Moving on, the dragon's voice actor is enCumbered with a batch of nonsense to say. He speaks well, as his name would suggest, but now, writing a few hours after seeing the movie, I can only remember one good line. He claims to be intelligent, but the ease with which the dwarves confuse him suggests that he is kind of stupid. That's a good thing, too, since otherwise he would be able to kill all the other stupid people in the movie. Maybe his intelligence takes the form of telepathy, since he soon seems to know everything there is to know about Bilbo and his companions. The movie fails to explain where he gets his information--maybe he read the book?
There are other villains, too. Azog (Kratos, in Elvish) is back, and now he has a son named Bulge, who appears to have been created in an accident involving steroids and industrial equipment. There is also of course,
1. Orcs/Beorn chase everyone. Nothing happens.
2. Bilbo, dwarves, and elves fight spiders. Spiders actually die.
3. Legolas and Tauriel kill anonymous orcs. The ones with names survive.
4. Orcs attack three kids and a poisoned dwarf. No one dies until Tauriel shows up. Even then, no one with a name dies.
5. Legolas fights Bulge. No one dies.
6. Gandalf fights Kratos. No one dies.
7. Gandalf fights Sauron (seriously). No one dies.
8. Smaug chases everyone. No one dies.
9. Somewhere in the midst of all this, Bard fights a bunch of city officials. I don't recall anyone dying, and if they did, they certainly didn't have names.
10. I have undoubtedly forgotten a bunch of other orc deaths. But they're demonstrably forgettable.
There are non-fight events in the "plot" as well, but none of them accomplish much either, except for the whole "opening the door to the Lonely Mountain" bit.
With all those problems, the only good things left in the movie are the lovely New Zealand scenery (except there isn't much left after all the CGI), the beautiful score (which is a retread of all the previous scores), the lived-in world Peter Jackson is so known for creating (come to think of it, only Laketown looked lived-in), and the special effects (which could be seen a lot better if the camera would focus on them). Er, I guess that's not much. Oh well. It's a good thing Peter Jackson didn't also repeat all the mistakes he ever made with his previous four movies, remove all evidence of Christian worldview from Tolkien's work, and add in the stupidest love triangle in the history of fantasy movies. Except he did.
Curse you, Peter Jackson, and may the sun take you, for now you are just trolling.
*With Jackson, one of something is never enough. Sometimes even two is not enough, which explains why there is another movie coming out next year.
**Spoiler: the same way as in the book, except presumably from the mounted bolt launcher that has been sitting in the town for the last several decades.