Quick summary for the impatient: cool, inventive, fun action sequences. Little else. It should have been called (Some Other Title): Very Loosely Based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.”
I loved the Lord of the Rings films. As a huge fan of the books, I thought they were about as good of a translation to films as could be done, mostly. Some changes that made sense for the films, etc.
Now, I went into The Hobbit not having read the book, so I got to see it without that bias. However, I also then got to hear about it from someone who loved the books and it was interesting to experience both sides. My own unbiased experience was that apart from the fun, inventive action sequences, there wasn’t much to speak of. I found a lot of it completely lacking in subtlety of dimension. Some baffling story points and two dimensional characters along with a lot of obvious audience emotional manipulation like a war hammer to the head.
Now what I found interesting was that when discussing it with Elly who loved the books and knew exactly what was different, I found most of my biggest complaints turned out to be the things that Jackson and company completely fabricated for the film. Turns out that apparently Jackson and company aren’t as good at writing as Tolkien. To be fair, the best parts of the films (the action sequences) were also almost entirely fabricated and not at all based on the books, so I guess they get that credit.
Basically this wasn’t The Hobbit at all. Thus why it should have just been called something else “loosely based on The Hobbit.” Unlike LOTR, the changes they made seemed completely unmotivated, really bad ideas. It also really only needed to be one film. Two at the most (while LOTR probably could have actually used more time to get more of the books in).
A fun, if mostly empty ride.