A mountain pile of gold, a big terrifying dragon, and more...
The Desolation of Smaug is filled with fun and action from start to end, and brings lots of great characters in the mix like Tauriel, Bard, Legolas, and most importantly, Smaug. Though the plot is straightforward and predictable, it is still fun to watch, and the visuals are beyond praise.
Many have stated this, and I will have to agree with them, the movie is an improvement as it packs a whole lot of action from the very beginning to the very end. Furthermore, elves with bow and arrows are a bit more entertaining than dwarves with swords and axes (no offense to the dwarves). And the most entertaining action sequence is indeed the barrels in the river sequence, which sees elves leaping around, arrows flying everywhere, and a massacre of the orcs.
The introduction of new characters are great, because they strengthen the plot points and are individually amazing characters themselves. Bard is an excellent addition and seems to be the character that is more than meets the eye. And though the characters of Tauriel and Legolas are cause for some debate, I have to say they are both excitingly brilliant characters. While the love connection between Tauriel and one certain dwarf felt unnecessary (except for, understandably, the cause of dragging more female viewers), it somehow felt a bit disrespectful to Tolkien's vision and doesn't feel coherent anyway. However the character Tauriel itself is great, while Legolas returns with a bang with some of the coolest and funniest scenes, and fans will really enjoy his return.
The titular dragon Smaug looks amazing and I was stunned by the massiveness and the terrifying feel of just looking at it. Not only it is humongous, but it looks great with the wings and the breath of fire, and...well, you just have to see it yourself. The plot is straightforward and rather predictable, but it is not a big issue as there are more to enjoy than the need of a good plot line. The existence of a cliffhanger is not a problem, as this in turn keeps us anticipated and expecting the third and final film (kind of what Catching Fire did as well).
The existence of consistent humour is a great addition to the already exciting action sequences, and most is due to Martin Freeman's brilliant acting. On the emotional side, there are less drama than what they have in the first film, so its a bit of a let down. In terms of technicality, the 3D effects are stunning and can really be felt at all times. And the visuals are, as I said before, beyond words and praise. The running time is shorter, but is still a hefty two and a half hours long so is still a wonderful journey.
Good: Fully action packed, Decent humour, Amazing characters, Stupendous titular dragon, Brilliant visuals & 3D effects
Bad: Less emotional exploration