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? Did he even intend to fight? Or perhaps he had his other reasons?
According to Word of God, it is due to the intense racism between dwarves and elves after dwarves murdered King Thingol in The Silmarillion and Thranduil more than likely saw it as Laser-Guided Karma. Doesn't help that Thror refused to return his wife's necklace.
Some have theorized that Legolas' feelings for Tauriel are merely platonic, and his fierce protectiveness is just his ride or die attitude towards his friends. Thranduil fretting over them is just him being a dad and assuming the worst because Tauriel is a woman spending time with his son. And Legolas jealous moments are more of a My Sister Is Off-Limits! thing.
Arc Fatigue: One of the biggest complaints about these movies is that they're a trilogy instead of a duology as Jackson originally intended, as a collaboration with Guillermo del Toro (or even just a single film like the cartoon), and that eight whole hours are dedicated to adapting Tolkien's shortest story. The big issues are the claims that several scenes go on for too long, that several subplots could be cut without causing the film itself to suffer from a narrative standpoint, and that Peter Jackson needed a better editor for the films. Unfortunately, this can be traced back to the films' troubled production, as evidenced in the trivia section. However, many fans have also embraced the trilogy format, enjoying the expansions to the original tale and feeling it allows the rather fast-paced story in the book to breathe a lot more.
Author's Saving Throw: The extended cuts of the films redeemed the trilogy in the eyes of many disappointed fans. Like with The Lord of the Rings, they include more scenes from the book (the Goblin Town song, the first proper meeting of Beorn) and explain certain things (the fate of Thrain which according to the second film's extended commentary was filmed when it was meant to be two movies and Kili's crush on Tauriel is foreshadowed in the extended cut for the first film). The third film's extended cut especially has received acclaim from both fans and critics for fixing a lot of problems for what was considered the weakest of the three movies, including the effects and giving the dwarves a chance to shine.
Apart from being an absolutely breathtaking score, a lot of thought went behind the composition of "Feast of Starlight" in wholly illustrating the fragile and doomed nature of Kili and Tauriel's connection. The concept of duality is a recurring motif first portrayed by the duet of flute and oboe representing two voices conversing. Lyrically followed by the chorus in two different languages Elvish Sindarin (italic) Dwarvish Khuzdul (bold):
Hae ephadron / theri thaur îmri zaizi am na dhû / ias fir i ambar A trehil i alad lân uir tri wilith Kûr yamsi / tân yamarsi biyê Ankakizi ni adâlimê / Ak tathyariya
Translation: I go walking / Beyond the forest Take me with you Up into the night / Where the world falls away And the white light of forever fills the air Where do you go / When you leave me? I see you, in my dreams / But you are far away
Azog. Depending on who you ask, he's either admired as a badass villain, or despised for being Spared by the Adaptation and becoming a generic "tough guy", exchanging the book lore's memorable murder-vendetta backstory with the dwarves for just more generic battle scenes fought over territory Age of Empires or Total War style.
Tauriel, though not as severe. Rarely does anyone consider her The Scrappy, but viewers are divided on whether she's an interesting addition to the story with a heartwarming relationship with Kili, or if she's just a Satellite Love Interest without much personality. Some warmed up to her after BOTFA.
Better on DVD: Just like The Lord of the Rings and even Harry Potter, the films make more sense and flow better when viewed in marathon form. Especially with the extended cuts, which have been acclaimed by both fans and critics and are considered a great improvement over the theatrical cuts.
Broken Base: The trilogy is considered to be the Star Wars prequels of the 2010s. Much like those films, there is a split fanbase:
There's the whole adaptation approach as prequels to the LOTR movies. See Pandering to the Base below. And that they made three movies, not just two. Some people say the stuff added for the Adaptation Expansion enhances the experience, but others say it feels like bad fan fiction.
The expanded roles of the elves. Some felt it was Pandering to the Base and didn't like how Legolas and Tauriel stole scenes from Bilbo and especially the love triangle. Others love it because of their show stealing scenes, and feel Legolas is getting much needed depth he did not have in the main trilogy.
Opinions vary on whether Tauriel and Kili were Strangled by the Red String and thrown in just for the sake of adding drama, while others find their chemistry and the similarities they bonded over heartwarming and believable. A third group has people who like them, or at the very least don't mind, but dislikes the implication of a Love Triangle with Legolas which many think their relationship could have been done without. After the third film's release, more people are leaning towards the third option stating that while they don't mind the two together, they greatly dislike the idea of a love triangle. Bonus points that the cast and crew seem to agree with the third party that they just wanted to tell a simple love story with Kili and Tauriel and the triangle was a result of Executive Meddling. Hell, when Tauriel's character was first announced in 2012, Peter Jackson made it a point to assure both the public and Tauriel's actress, Evangeline Lilly, that there absolutely wouldn't be a romance between Tauriel and Legolas. They knew it would be so poorly received that they reassured everyone it wasn't going to happen... and then the studio overruled Jackson and mandated that such a subplot was to be included, to the displeasure of all.
The expansion of Azog's arc. Some argue he's irrelevant and should stay dead as in the books. Others see him as an antagonist that Thorin needed (with Smaug focusing more on Bilbo and Bard) and that their Mutual Kill adds more drama to the story than Dain killing Azog. Azog's vendetta also gives a better reason to have him preparing his armies at least since the moment he caught wind of the quest for Erebor, rather than them arriving completely by surprise in what looked like a Diabolus ex Machina in the book (even if the long wars between the dwarves and the orcs were mentioned in LOTR's appendices).
Complete Monster: Azog the Defiler, leader of the Orcs, pledged to wipe out the line of Durin even though they had done nothing to him. In the ensuing battle, Azog murdered King Thrór and beheaded him, and then severed Thráin's finger and took him to Dol Guldur to be tortured. When Thorin Oakenshield cut off his arm, Azog vowed to gain revenge on the Dwarf by any means necessary, putting a bounty on his head, and when Azog finally corners him, he lies about killing his father to goad Thorin into attacking him. It is eventually revealed that Azog slaughtered the Skinchangers by raiding their lands and then caging and torturing them for his own amusement, leaving Beorn as the Last of His Kind. Upon taking command of Sauron's armies, Azog decides to target innocent civilians in order to distract his enemies and gain an advantage, intending to exterminate the races of Elves, Men, and Dwarves all at once. When Thorin rides to Azog's command center to kill him, Azog has Thorin's nephew Fili brought to him and then kills him in front of Thorin, taking sadistic glee at the moment.
Contested Sequel: The consensus seems to be that these movies aren't quite as good as the Lord of the Rings trilogy that preceded them (which was admittedly a Tough Act to Follow). Now, whether or not they're good movies is the real point of contention among fans.
Fíli/Sigrid (Bard's elder daughter) has gained a small fanbase on Archive of Our Own, despite Sigrid having all of five lines, none of which were directed at the former.
Thranduil/Tauriel are also gaining a small fanbase, mostly based on their finalinteraction.
Another example is Gandalf/Galadriel. Galadriel has been married to Celeborn for thousands of years (since before the fall of Doriath which happened in the First Age) and Tolkien's Elves canonically pair and marry for life, adultery is absolutely unthinkable to them. Gandalf is a Maia, an angelic being who has existed since the creation of the universe and is merely clothed in the body of an elderly man, yet a subset of fans are still convinced that they're secretly in love with each other purely because of the chemistry they share in The Hobbit trilogy, which seems to be more a result of the real life friendship between actors Ian McKellen and Cate Blanchett than anything else. (Actually the romantic tension between them is thanks to Guillermo del Toro who, before he quit, intended to make Galadriel and Gandalf fall in love).
Bilbo/Thorin, which would normally be par for the course, except for the large subset that Gender Flips Bilbo first.
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.
Critical Dissonance: The first film received mixed to positive reviews, even without considering the debate over the High Frame Rate version (it helps that it's often considered to be overlong and was a Tough Act to Follow to a really acclaimed trilogy). Nonetheless, by the end of only its third weekend in release, it earned over half a billion dollars globally (and finished its BO run with over a billion, the second Tolkien adaptation to do so). While barely registering as "Fresh" at 65% on Rotten Tomatoes among critics, audiences give it a much higher 83% Fresh.
Designated Hero: Slightly with the dwarves in the Company of Thorin. Whereas the novel presented them rather clearly as Anti-Heroes, the film trilogy plays them up to make their quest seem more heroic than their intentions (and some of the actions they commit to reach it) would suggest. Whilst Gandalf started the quest to prevent Sauron using Smaug to terrible effect, the dwarves' motives for agreeing to and pursuing it were more about their own people's feelings of rights and entitlement, consequences for other people be damned.
Radagast, mostly thanks to his Crazy Is Cool 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 Heartwarming Moment 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. And he's the one wearing a Cool Hat.
Gollum when he appears in An Unexpected Journey, being creepy and hilarious.
Bard's children are generally well-liked as well for being adorable, helping expand Bard's character and mostly because they surprisingly avert being The Load.
DáinIronfoot from the third film for saving The Company's (and pretty much everyone else's) asses in the nick of time, his Crazy Is Cool tendencies (such as riding a boar to battle and headbutting everyone to death), and his magnificent Screw You, Elves! speech. His great theme song doesn't hurt either.
Bolg, Azog's son and second-in-command. He's just as much of a badass as his father. In The Desolation of Smaug he fights Legolas to a draw, and in The Battle of Five Armies he kills Kili, knocks Tauriel out of the fight, and nearly kills Legolas more than once.
Fandom-Enraging Misconception: Whenever someone mispronounces Smaug's name, usually gets this reaction. The correct way is "sm-ow-g," not "smawg".
Franchise Original Sin: The theatrical releases were heavily criticized for their inconsistent pacing, but many fans are quick to point out the original trilogy's theatrical releases had the same pacing problems that also weren't fixed until the extended editions.
Reading about how thanks to Warner Bros. meddling the production went off the rails becomes even harder to stomach thanks to Justice League (2017) which had an even worse production under the same company.
Fans, including Lindsay Ellis, accusing Peter Jackson and his team of not caring about the film or the source material is harsh when you realize (and John Callen, the actor for Oin, confirmed the following in an interview with Lindsay) that it was the other way around: Jackson did care, but Warner Bros. told him to his face to cut out entire character arcs and sideline everyone to focus on Gandalf, Bilbo, Thorin and more action sequences because they didnt, despite Jacksons protests.
The trilogy originally being planned as just a duology mirrors the making of the earlier Rings trilogy.
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.
Tauriel in general, considering how infamous the LOTR movie trilogy once was for its fanfiction involving Legolas, and just how much Tauriel resembles such characters, at least on a superficial level. (Though if not for studio interference, that could have been averted.)
The following Lord of the Rings quote is eerily prophetic about how some view the Adaptation Expansion of the relatively short Hobbit.
Bilbo: Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can't be right.
Back when Sylvester McCoy was playing the Seventh Doctor, the episode Battlefield had him find out he would become Merlin. Cue this film trilogy, where McCoy would play a wizard. There's also this golden exchange from a modern episode of Doctor Who:
River Song: I hate good wizards in stories. They all turn out to be [the Doctor].
Right after the last film's release, Richard Armitage took the role of Francis Dolarhyde in Hannibal, an insane serial killer who believes he's possessed by a dragon.
Not at all discouraged by Armitage jokingly calling the dwarves' recital of Misty Mountains their way of "seducing" Bilbo to come questing with them, and Freeman humorously 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.
Jerkass Woobie: Gollum literally lives for that Ring. Seeing it being stolen from him is heartbreaking.
Just Here for Godzilla: General critical consensus for The Desolation of Smaug is that the film greatly improves on An Unexpected Journey and that it's quite a good film on its own merits. However, many fans admitted to seeing the movie just for Smaug himself. Still others for Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug, despite the fact that he's visually unrecognizable, being a dragon and all.
Love to Hate: Smaug. He's very enjoyable when he's onscreen, commanding attention in every scene with both his charismatic yet violent personality and his Kaiju shows of badassery, and his overinflated ego and tendencies toward hypocrisy and needless cruelty make watching him get proven not-so-unkillable after all all the more satisfying for the audience. And that's not even going into his CGI design and his reverberating Badass Baritone!
Mis-blamed: A lot of people, especially on YouTube, think all the changes or problems with the movie were all Jackson's fault. While the decision to shoot it on 48 frames per second and the over-reliance on CGI were Jackson, as noted in the Troubled Production section, most of the problems were the studio's.
Smaug's destruction of Dale decades earlier; he destroyed it not because it had offended or attacked him, or because it had anything he wanted. No, instead he completely destroyed a city of thousands simply because it happened to be between him and where he was going.
For Azog, if it's not him decapitating Thror over a hundred years before the story's main time frame, nor him ordering his army to attack the civilians who fled Laketown, then it's certainly him murdering Fili in front of a helpless Thorin's eyes.
Portmanteau Couple Name: The Ho Yay pairing of Thorin and Bilbo has been immediately dubbed by fangirls "Thilbo" and "Bagginshield" or altogether, "Thilbo Bagginshield".
Romantic Plot Tumor: The love triangle between Kili, Tauriel, and Legolas is very much despised (including by Peter Jackson and Evangeline Lilly. Orlando Bloom seems to pretend it doesn't exist.) Like many things, its existence is the result of Executive Meddling, and Lilly in particular hasn't been shy about voicing her displeasure over it. In the commentaries, neither Lilly, Bloom, nor Aidan Turner even mention it.
Squick: Radagast has two long streaks in his hair, made up of bird droppings.
With the exceptions of Thorin, Kili, Balin, Dwalin, Fili, and Bofur, the rest of the Dwarves in the company are given little to no focus throughout the series and are more or less extras. Doubly disappointing in that unlike in the books, they all have unique personalities while sharing the goal of reclaiming their long-lost home.
The Master of Laketown. Not only does he suffer an unnecessary Death by Adaptation, his role was taken by widely-hated Canon Foreigner Alfrid Lickspittle. Many fans felt that veteran comedy actor Stephen Fry could have pulled off the storyline without becoming The Scrappy.
Bolg. In the book, Bolg was the commander of the goblin army in the Battle of Five Armies, is the last antagonist that Thorin and Company had to deal with in the wake of Smaug's death, and was ultimately responsible for the deaths of Thorin, Fili, and Kili. Bolg could easily have been the tertiary antagonist of the film trilogy and taken the exact same role that his father Azog ended up playing. Very little changes would have needed to be made to the script, except making his vendetta against the line of Durin a matter of revenge for his father's death at the Battle of Moria. Instead, Azog is Spared by the Adaptation and gets used as said tertiary antagonist, and while Bolg does still lead an orc army from Mount Gundabad, he ultimately becomes reduced to a henchman for Legolas to fight.
Thranduil's and Bard's wives. In the books, virtually nothing is known about them except that they exist, meaning that they were a perfect opportunity to include two canonical female characters whose personalities were free for interpretation without feeling shoehorned. Instead, they are both yet another case of dead/absent mothers in Middle Earth who remain blank slates.
Ugly Cute: Radagast applies; he's filthy and crazy, but cute at the same time.
While there are many who strongly defend the casting of Richard Armitage as Thorin, for others his Adaptational Attractiveness through Age Lift and similarity in looks to Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn are hard to reconcile with the older, more grizzled character who was the Trope Codifier Dwarf in the books. Fancasting suggested Brian Cox as the favorite for the role. It applies to several other actors too, who didn't exactly 'fit the mold' of Dwarves, but Peter Jackson decided to open up the playing field as to what a Dwarf could be.
The casting is further justified by Philippa Boyens, who stated that the amount of stunts and work required for the role would have been impossible for an actor in his 70s and 80s, and that it would be difficult to care about Thorin's quest if he's on the verge of death anyway.
Woobie Species: The majority of the Dwarvish race who are displaced, nomadic and downtrodden, yet choose to remain strong and proud.