Since some people haven't yet seen it, more discussion under the cut:
Things I liked just as well or better than last time:
*All the scenery and sets -- just stunning. Oh Rivendell! And that wonderful entry by Elrond. The whole Smaug smokes Erebor and Dale scene was amazing too. Notice that we never get to see much of the dragon. He's kept mysterious. We just see little bits of him.
*The little nods to LOTR in a number of places. For example, when Thorin pulls the arrow from the orc and says, "Elves," which obviously echos back to Legolas doing the same thing but saying, "Orcs!" when they first enter Moria. The Goblin King falling on the dwarves and their reaction reminded me of the warg falling on Gimli. Any other little nods to LOTR that you can think of? I can't think of others off-hand but I remember noticing and appreciating a number of them.
*Thranduil, especially on his elk. Actually that's not a modern day elk. It looks more like a beast called an Irish Elk (google it) that became extinct at the end of the last ice age, between 11-8,000 years ago. I guess that's okay in M-e since they have mammoths.
I checked out the Thranduil bowing to Thror scene which was under discussion before. From what I can gather it was simply being said that Thror was so powerful that he held dominion over everyone in the region, including the elves. But Thranduil clearly has some pride and didn't take too well to it. I wonder if there will be more in the Extended Edition. (Which will only be released once we've all bought the DVD of the theater version.) Anyhow, clearly we've got more enmity set up here in order to make more sense of the dwarves' capture later. I do like the authors thinking through and strengthening motivations for actions. Makes for a more coherent narrative.
*I liked the Azog set up better this time. I still think he looks too cartoonish, but I can see where this is going better.
*The whole opening scene with old Bilbo writing the story. Loved how that tied into LOTR. And the dwarf dinner at Bilbo's. I laughed even more this time. Great stuff there. Bilbo's valiant attempt not to faint and then that little, "Nope."
*Thorin, Thorin, Thorin. Oh my, that is one hot dwarf. I think I might have a voice kink and Richard Armitage's voice really does it for me. Kili is a close second for hotness. He's sort of the scruffy Legolas substitute with that bow. Note the twins as practical jokers bit there, reminiscent of the Weasley twins.
*The whole Bilbo/Gollum scene was just as good the second viewing. I better appreciated the scene where Bilbo chooses not to kill Gollum. This time it felt like the pacing was right.
*Radagast's Rhosgobel's rabbit sleigh. It's a bit absurd, but I liked the silliness of it.
*I'll add more as I think about it.
Stuff I still didn't like:
*Some of the stuff that just seemed OTT. The bird poo in Radagast's hair (if that is poo) the stick insect in his mouth.
*The OTT falling from high places in the Goblin kingdom scene as well as the number of high-speed tricks by the dwarves. It's so unreal as to be cartoonish. Same goes for the Goblin King. He didn't have to be so huge.
*Galadriel teleporting herself away from Rivendell. Huh. That's not a skill she should have. Perhaps the idea is that her ring can also make her invisible. But really I'm not liking it.
I have to say I can't wait for the next two movies and more elves. Plus Smaug and the Necromancer. There's that voice kink again. Can't wait to hear Benedict Cumberbatch.
Okay, that's it from this reviewer. Thoughts?