Much like with “Journey” there are many parts in “Smaug” that seem bloated and redundant. The video-game like narrative (going from point A to point B with crazy stuff happening in between) adds to the slow pacing. Another shortcoming of the film is the complete lack of tension in the movie. The audience already knows that there’s going to be another movie, and with this being a prequel, the audience already knows what happens to some of the main characters. Consequently there’s not much suspense deriving from the story. Again these issues wouldn’t necessarily be that big of a deal but framing those problems within the larger framework of (needlessly?) stretching Tolkein’s original story into three epic-in-length films could be seen as a cash grab.
Ultimately, if one is a fan of the original Rings Trilogy and of the first Hobbit film than there’s no doubt those fans will like this second installment. And it’s also true that most casual moviegoers will also find the film satisfactory.
Final grade: B-