Okay, SPOILERS. Sort off. We ARE talking a 75 year old book here, so the story should be known to most, as a lot of schools even have The Hobbit on their recommended reading list. So whatever might be spoiled, is purely cinematographic envisionment, as the story does stay the same, only with more grandeur.
I must admit, I was a bit afraid for this movie, as the parts remaining, being the defeat of Smaug and the Battle of the Five Armies took about 10 pages in the book, and the whole Dol Guldur thing was nothing more then a partly told, half page report by Gandalf to Elrond.
But I must say, they pulled it off rather well.
True to the book, Smaug, whom some mistook for the main villain of the story, but that is actually Azog the Defiler, falls quickly to an arrow shot by Bard, and then the politics start. The survivors of Lake-Town relocate to Dale, and want their claim of the gold. The elves of Mirkwood amass and want their jewels back. And then Dain Ironfoot (memorable character!) arrives to aid in the defense of Erebor.
At this time, the armies of Azog arrive and the forces turn in an epic battle, taking almost half as long as the mighty battle before Gondor in Return of the King. When they are pushed back further and further, and reinforcements for the orcs start to arrive, Thorin overcomes his madness for gold, and we get a truly gloriuos sequence.
The Opening of Erebor is for me on par with other `atmospherical moments` that lead to the great battles, like the March of the Ents in the Two Towers, or the for me still most goose-bump inducing part in all six movies: the Lighting of the Beacons in Retunr of the King. The music, Bombur and the mighty dwarf horn that blows, the golden hammer that smashes down the barricades and the sally forth of Thorin and company... this is the stuff of heroes!
Now, as we all know, Kili, Fili and Thorin don`t survive the battle, and while in the book it is described to Bilbo (who was ko`d from the first blows) that Thorin fell while slaying Azog and the two brothers died defending their dying lord, here they are given a more glamorous wave out. But their fate remains sealed, though we of course get a romatic twist with Tauriel, and Legolas faces off Bolg, spawn of Azog.
And then the Eagles came... and Beorn made a small cameo, but seeing how important he is to the flow of the battle in the book, I suspect some half a dozen extra minutes on this sequence come the Extended version, as I suspect there will be on the `heritage` of the characters to the next movies (who, in true Star wars style, are older then the prequel story, so discussions can start again when doing a marathon which trilogy to watch first), like we see Legolas being send to look for a young Dunedain called `Strider`...
Oh, and finally it happened! After 6 movies, Legolas AT LAST ran out of arrows!
And now the wait starts to the final extended version... but until then, DU BEKAR! DU BEKAR!
Upstairs and Ready*
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