I liked Tauriel. I probably am in the minority, but I really enjoyed seeing her, and I thought Evangeline Lilly did a great job at portraying her. Tauriel is badass, strong, feisty and opinionated. She kind of reminded me of Éowyn in a way.
Smaug was exactly what I imagined him to be, at least in the first part where he talks to Bilbo. He is just as scary, ruthless, cunning and evil as I hoped he would turn out to be. Although, to be fair, he is also one of the reasons I was exasperated with the movie and I'll tell you later on why that is.
Thranduil is probably my favorite departure from the books. I liked seeing a morally ambiguous elf, one that isn't as ethereal and good as Elrond. I don't really remember much about him from the books, but I enjoyed what Jackson did with his character.
The little Easter Eggs were amazing. I am yet again in the minority, but everything from the shards of the sword Narsil to how Thranduil tells Legolas to go find the rangers, even how Gloin tells Legolas about his "wee lad" Gimli, all of those little details tying up together the two movie trilogies were fantastic and I absolutely loved seeing them there. The last scene in the third movie was fantastic and it kind of made my heart race a little bit, because it was such a good way to end things.
The first thing I truly didn't like about the trilogy is that they turned a children's book into a bloody, violent story. The Hobbit is intended towards younger audiences and while I understand the need to bring a lot of people to the cinema and have them want to see your movie, I do believe it could have been done in a much better way than basically having the third movie be a war movie.
Another thing I didn't enjoy was the way the filmmakers divided the story. They basically had about two thirds of the book in the first movie and then the rest was stretched over the last two movies, with a ton of stuff added in that wasn't in the source material, in order to justify an extra 6 hours of screen time. Now, I'm not sure if the things they added in were part of the history of Middle Earth - it's been years since I last read The Silmarillion, and I haven't read the rest of the books detailing the history of Middle Earth, so I'm not commenting on if the events they added in were something Tolkien wrote or not. What I do know is that the added scenes and subplots turned a rather simple story into a complex part of the history that, ultimately, I didn't understand. To make matters worse, a few of these changes are in contrast to what happened in the Lord Of The Rings movie trilogy.
Another continuity error in my mind is the fact that Legolas seems to be completely different than what I remembered from LOTR. I remember a socially awkward elf, one who didn't seem familiar with alcoholic beverages, one who didn't talk unless talked to, one who is so clueless at times he is insanely funny, one who uses sarcasm as much as he uses his bow, who then went on to become best friends with a dwarf.
This is the Legolas I remember and love. The Hobbit Legolas in an asshole and I don't like him at all!
The Legolas we meet here though seems to be quite the opposite. He's not socially inept, he can have a conversation, and he is what we would now call a racist. How this Legolas goes on to become the Legolas I remember from more than ten years ago, I'm not sure, but I wouldn't put my money on his time with the Rangers. If anything, that would be the perfect way for him to stop being socially awkward. It makes no sense. And let's not forget about his eye color!!!
Much like Legolas suffered a pretty drastic change, Galadriel also went through a pretty big scene that might seem like a small thing, but to me it was important and so confusing. Remember this scene in The Fellowship of the Ring?
Well... At the time, the movie made it seem like such a big deal for Galadriel, like a once-in-a-life-time event that was a sort of test for her (a test of what, I do not know). But it was shown as a pretty big deal, and I saw it as such. Now, in one of the movies from the Hobbit trilogy (I am honest and I'll say I don't remember which one) a similar scene happens. So I wonder... If she took on her badass, warrior elf queen face 60 years prior to Frodo coming to Lothlorien, what exactly makes the scene with Frodo in front of her mirror a test? What makes it so important?
Another thing I didn't quite enjoy was the overdoing of special effects. Peter Jackson did such an amazing job in the LOTR trilogy with this side of the movie, I remember being in awe over the fact that everything looked almost real. Something was lost, however, through the years, and that childlike wonder I was expecting to feel wasn't there. In fact, I could pinpoint exactly which scenes were CGI, and I hated that. I understand wanting to use technology to make your job easier, but this went from "let's use CGI because we have no other way" and into ridiculous territory.
I said I liked Tauriel, and I did. But if you're going to add a female character in order to balance the dominantly male story, at least make her be her own woman. I didn't like the fact that she played a love interest for not one, but two male characters. And while normally I can ignore that element, I was especially disappointed over the fact that, in the end, neither of those romantic interests end up having a happy ending, because Legolas is told by his father to leave, and Kili dies. So not only does Tauriel serves the simple purpose of being the hot "elf maiden" that two men fall for, she doesn't even get the chance of a happy ending. Aaaand that serves whom, exactly?
Last but not least, Smaug was... Look. He is the ultimate evil. The psychotic, gold-hungry fire-breathing creature that killed thousands of dwarves and feared by men, elves and dwarves alike. Why then have him die at the start of the third movie? And yes, I know that the focus of that movie was the Battle of the Five Armies. But if you're going to have a movie focused solely on this insane quest of reclaiming the stolen treasure from the mad dragon, at least make his death memorable. Instead, he died... It wasn't spectacular, let's just put it like that. And I expected it to be spectacular and worthy of his evilness.
Overall, I think I would have been less critical of this trilogy had I not read the book and had I not watched the LOTR trilogy. I admit that I had insanely high expectations, because I loved the original trilogy, faults and all. While it might seem that I didn't fully enjoy these movies, I did kind of liked them. But if I'm going to be honest with you, I don't expect to have a movie marathon of The Hobbit anytime soon. To quote Bilbo, "In fact I mean not to".