Let's begin with what I loved about the film, as it wasn't all bad. The film is very well cast, especially the roles of Bilbo and Thorin Oakenshield. Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Richard Armitage as Thorin, both did formidably well bringing their characters to life and I'm looking forward to seeing them develop in the future films. I love that Peter Jackson is once again on board. His vision of Middle Earth is glorious and it was a joy to have that consistency between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Howard Shore is also back scoring the music which means the familiar themes we came to love in the trilogy as well as new themes, especially for the dwarves. I'm enjoying the build up to the final introduction of Smaug the Dragon. His full appearance is scheduled for the second film, I believe--thus the sub-title The Desolation of Smaug. I was also impressed with the use of many of the back story elements one might find in the appendices--including scenes regarding the Necromancer, Radagast, and the White Council.
Unfortunately there were some very glaring missteps that we felt ruined the movie. The CGI did not work at all, especially for the goblins. In the original trilogy many of the orcs and goblins were played by actors and were not completely enhanced by CGI which made them more real and much more frightening. The overuse of CGI characters in The Hobbit left too much of the characterization flat and comical. I completely hated the added back story of Azog the Defiler and his company of orcs and wargs who are on the hunt for Thorin through much of the film. I don't mind a little tweaking of plot now and again, but this was so over the top and so unneeded. The Hobbit is a lovely tale without all the extraneous, overly-violent battles that weren't part of the story to begin with. Along the same line, why are the wargs more like service animals to the orcs rather than the independently acting wargs of the books who have an evil alliance with the goblins and who accidentally stumble upon Thorin's company? My final beef with this movie was the prolonged battle and escape from the goblins of the Misty Mountains. It felt like a video game and I am NOT a video game fan.