These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Alternative Character Interpretation: The 'Arkenstone Debacle' while commonly read as being an example of riches induced covetousness on the part of Thorin, is written in such a way that no party comes out completely clean or wholly villainous- Thorin, while stubborn, is ultimately just safeguarding the treasure for his long-suffering people and (quite reasonably) refusing to negotiate a share for the men of laketown under threat of violence. Thranduil, for all his talk of tarrying long ere he begin a war for gold has nevertheless parked an army outside the gates of people who he had locked up a mere couple of weeks before, and Bard, while possessing the most honourable motives of the main factions, and probably the best claim to a portion of the treasure, has not only allied himself with the explicit enemies of the person he's bargaining with but seems perfectly willing to launch a surprise pre-emptive strike on Thorin's much needed reinforcements led by his cousin!
Bilbo himself also doesn't come off well in that scene on some interpretations. He knows (and admits as much to himself) even when seizing the Arkenstone that although Thorin said he could choose his own share of the treasure as a reward for his efforts, it probably wasn't going to include that. Yet he still keeps it and gives it to the besieging army, with at least some idea of what is likely to happen as a result.
This is explicitly to force Thorin into letting him pay them off from his own share.
Actually Bilbo nicks the Arkenstone before any of that comes up- kind of concurrently with Smaug attacking Laketown and before Bard ever arrives to make a claim on the treasure. Although Bilbo does the 'right' thing (even if it does go tits-up) in the end, he steals the Arkenstone purely for his own keeping originally.
Thorin Oakenshield: stalwart, honorable leader of a mighty company of Dwarves, out to reclaim his ancestral homeland? Or an avaricious, stubborn fool in way over his head, who leads an inexperienced, underequipped group of bumbling idiots on a suicide mission for the sake of honor?
From the book, when Bilbo tries to pickpocket a troll, the money purse suddenly says: "Ere, 'oo are you?", leading to him getting caught. It's never explained how the bag can talk, and it never does so again, nor does it get any comment from any of the charactes. And the narrator just states that "Trolls' purses are the mischief". In the movie this was thankfully removed, instead the troll confuses Bilbo with a piece of cloth. However in contrast to The Lord of the Rings movies, seeing trolls talk and being somewhat intelligent might count as BLAM.
Also from the book: the stone giants throwing rocks at each other while the party is trying to cross the Misty Mountains. They're never mentioned again in the whole book (except for Gandalf making a passing comment that he'll have to get a "friendly giant" to block up a pass so that goblins can't get through) and given only a passing mention as rumor near the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring.
The scene is kept in the film with Bofur exclaiming "Stone Giants! The legends were true!" to let the viewers have some idea of what the hell is going on. The movie giants are literally made of stone, and don't seem capable of speech. Granted, it's a little better in the film because the Company ends up being chased into the cave that leads to Goblin Town while running from the giants.
The first edition of The Hobbit, before Tolkien got the idea of integrating it into his wider legendarium, mentions lamp-posts and policemen. These were removed in subsequent editions.
Gandalf's name is taken almost wholesale from a character in the Voluspa known as Gandalfr, a Dwarf who wields a staff and is king of the elves. Other aspects of his personality are taken from The Kalevala.
Recycled Script: In The History of the Hobbit it's pointed out that Thranduil the Elvenking and his hold in Mirkwood is closely derived from the original conception of Thingol of Doriath (Tinwelint of Aranor) — which also explains his distrust of dwarves. This isn't obvious to people who are only familiar with the published Silmarillion, because the final version made Thingol and Doriath much richer and less earthy and sylvan. However, Tolkien added a Discontinuity Nod to this when The Silmarillion does mention that Thranduil lived in Doriath in his youth and modelled his own kingdom in Mirkwood on it.
Unfortunate Implications: After The Lord of the Rings was published, Tolkien once said he partly modeled his Dwarves on the Jews, based on both peoples being exiles from their original homelands. Dwarvish was also modeled after Semitic languages, and the Dwarves continued to preserve their own language and culture while living among different cultures, much like how Jews have done. However, stretching his words and applying them retroactively to The Hobbit leads to some questionable passages:
''There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are trickery and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much."
Characterization Marches On in The Lord of the Rings, since Gimli and the dwarves are clearly heroic despite their prejudices, which Gimli in particular overcomes. The dwarves of The Silmarillion are also portrayed as much more serious and overtly heroic than the often bumbling ones of The Hobbit, which they predate. A possible bit of Fridge Brilliance in that Thorin and company actually recaptured the homeland the dwarves were exiled from.
Also a superbly worded response to a Nazi sympathetic publisher's letter asking if Tolkien was of "arisch" descent makes it highly unlikely that Tolkien intended any offense (although it is still possible that he subconsciously absorbed anti-Semitic stereotypes):
''"I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people."
Anticlimax Boss: Given the Great Goblin is enormous and intimidating (almost as big as a Troll), an epic fight between him and Gandalf seems likely when he blocks the party while they're on the verge of escaping from Goblin town. Thanks to Gandalf, an Eye Poke from his staff and Glamdring, the Great Goblin does down easily.
Alternative Character Interpretation: When Thranduil chose not to come to the aid of Erebor after Smaug attacked, was he regretful of what he had to do? Or was he secretly rather smugly pleased that the dwarves had been brought down a peg or three?
Or did he know that he simply couldn't defeat Smaug, and was not prepared to throw away the lives of his own for the treasure of others.
In which case, why not help the refugees rather than leave them wandering alone and possessionless across the land? This could point to a third interpretation where, rather than sad or smug, he just doesn't care about anyone but his own people.
Award Snub: It's nearly a unanimous agreement that if anyone was snubbed by the Oscars, it was Andy Serkis. Again.
The Goblin King's impromptu song performance in the Extended Edition.
The stone giant sequence. For anyone who doesn't remember the short passage it was adapted from, it seems even more so, as unlike the trolls and spiders there's absolutely no explanation given for the giants. The only thing that comes out of it is Bilbo dangling from a cliff and needing to be rescued, and the giants are never mentioned again.
48 frames-per-second. Not just a base-breaker for fans, but potentially a base-breaker for cinema itself, if the Cinema Con write-ups are to be believed. Many commented that it presents a huge change in viewing experience.
There's the whole adaptation approach as prequels to the LOTR movies. See Pandering to the Base below. And now they're making three movies, not just two.
Some fans of the original trilogy don't like that this one is more lighthearted.
Critics almost universally despised Radagast the Brown, citing him as a Kid-Appeal Character and drawing comparisons to Jar-Jar Binks. See Ensemble Darkhorse below for the fans' opinion of him.
It should be noted that it has a 65% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is still generally positive.
Crazy Awesome: Radagast, a moss-encrusted Cloud Cuckoolander with bird poop in his hair who manages to fend a curse from his doorstep, ventures alone into a haunted castle and bring out a valuable piece of evidence after fighting the Witch-King's spectre, and outruns an orc raiding party on a sled pulled by rabbits.
Radagast: These are Rhosgobel rabbits! I'd like to see them try!
Radagast, mostly thanks to his Crazy Awesome badassery, dealing with the giant spiders, the Nazgûl and the orcs with ease. (And among older fans, for being the Seventh Doctor in addition to the above.)
Bofur as well, in part because of his greater character development, and his Crowning Moment of Heartwarming with Bilbo. It may also have something to do with him being played by the always charming James Nesbitt.
He also has some of the best facial hair in the film, which is saying something in a film full of bearded men.
During Tolkien's lifetime he started a rewrite of the book consistent with the tone of The Lord of the Rings, much like the intent behind the Hobbit movies. However, a friend advised him to stop since it wasn'tThe Hobbit anymore, much like some Hobbit movie reactions.
At the dinner in Rivendell, Balin dismisses Sting as not really being a sword but more of a letter opener, which was available for purchase from the Noble Collection website before the movie premiered.
Compare The Carrock◊ in The Hobbit (which foreshadows the introduction of Beorn the bear-man) and Grizzly Peak◊ at Disney's California Adventure. If Hobbit II includes the escape from Thranduil's cellar then both will have something to do with turbulent river rides.
Definitely, except for the part where Beorn has nothing to do with rivers of any sort, unless you count his warning not to drink from the stream in Mirkwood.
Not at all discouraged by Armitage calling the dwarves' recital of Misty Mountains their way of "seducing" Bilbo to come questing with them, and Freeman giving his reason for joining the Company as Bilbo maybe falling in love with Thorin.
The actors seem well aware of it. In the blu-ray extras there's a point in script reading where Peter Jackson reads: Thorin leads Bilbo to the canopy", and Richard Armitage cracks: "is this post-coital or pre?"
Incest Yay Shipping: Three guesses which pairingnote Fíli, Kíli, and Thorin, in various combinations.
Mary Sue: Tauriel. A character written in by scriptwriters who's highly skilled fighter and healer, understands the importance of the Dwarves' mission when no one else does, and harbors forbidden love at every fangirl's favorite elven prince.
"I'm not afraid! I'm up for it! I'll give him a taste of dwarfish iron right up his jacksie!"
Saruman's beard, which is noticeably thicker and bushier than it will be 60 years later.
Thranduil riding up the crest of a hill with his entire army, watching Smaug completely destroy the dwarf castle, and sort of...swishing his hair and turning his whole army back in the most overblown Bishōnen fashion possible.
Some of Azog's moments come across as this, partially because of his CGI look.
The Extended version now has an extended "Goblin Town" song sung by Barry Humphries. It comes off as a godawful George Lucas inspired song and dance scene (think of the extended musical number in Jabba's palace in the remastered Return of the Jedi that nobody wanted or asked for).
Nightmare Retardant: The spiders of Mirkwood become a lot less creepy in the second film after Bilbo puts on the Ring and begins to understand their language; they have rather goofy voices and aren't all that bright.
Kíli's expanded role in the second film is also this. Its main purpose seems to be Fanservice.
Portmanteau Couple Name: The Ho Yay pairing of Thorin and Bilbo has been immediately dubbed by fangirls "Thilbo" and "Bagginshield" or altogether, "Thilbo Bagginshield".
The Scrappy: Ori is probably supposed to be comic relief, but his lines come off as narm and are generally awful. The film could do completely without him and be no worse off for it. The same could be said for Dori and Nori, although Dori doesn't have utterly dreadful lines and Nori barely speaks at all.
Special Effects Failure: Most critics complained about this being a side effect to the frame rate. With both, the practical and digital effects.
Probably the most notable failure is during the long shot where the dwarfs ride a snapped-off multi-tiered bridge down the side of a crevasse. For some reason, it looks like a cheap model shot from a student film.
The Wargs were mostly CGI to begin with, with only a few shots using a prop for close-up work. The Goblins are a little more glaring, except for extreme cases like the Great Goblin and his secretary. On the other hand, any Art Shift complaints should fall by the wayside, since the Goblins and Wargs look different because they originate from different areas of Middle-Earth than their Lord of the Rings counterparts.
The eagles look fake even compared to their appearance in the LOTR trilogy.
Many CGI effects in general weren't as finished in the first movie as they should have been due to the many financial delays that troubled the production, causing numerous scenes to be rushed to completion. Whether this will continue in the latter parts of the trilogy remains to be seen.
In the second film, Smaug's bath in molten gold is very obvious CGI.
Gollum flips between adorable and terrifying constantly, especially when he's struggling to come up with answers to Bilbo's riddles. (In other words, between Gollum and Sméagol...)
A lot of the goblins as well, like the Goblin King's tiny secretary. Having similar character designs to the goblins in Labyrinth doesn't hurt.
The non-villainous example would be the younger dwarves like Fili, Kili and Ori.
Radagast applies; he's filthy, crazy, but cute at the same time.
Uncanny Valley: Smaug's facial expressions are taken from motion captures of Benedict Cumberbatch emoting while speaking his dialogue. The result gives Smaug's face a disturbingly creepy appearance and a hideous intelligence.
Visual Effects of Awesome: While the film's many battle scenes, vistas, and creatures are undeniably impressive, a very subtle one qualifies too. Saruman may have met and talked with the white council, but Sir Ian McKellen revealed that Sir Christopher Lee wasn't on set at all during filming; all his shots were filmed in England, then spliced in afterwards. Considering how natural his interactions are with the others, it's an impressive achievement.
Smaug in the second movie. His animations are so good, you would think he does indeed deserve his title as "The Magnificent".
The Woobie: There's at least one person out there who thinks Ori qualifies.
Women Are Wiser: The Council of the Wise has Elrond, Galadriel, Saruman, Gandalf, and Radagast. Elrond is the youngest of these; the three wizards are literally old as time; but Galadriel is clearly the wisest.