So it had its faults, and there were lots of unnecessary add-ons courtesy of "Middle-Earth According To Peter Jackson", and it suffered from a severe case of middle-movie-syndrome, but The Desolation of Smaug was a hell of ride.
It was an improvement on the last one, for sure, sorting out most of its pacing issues and ditching unnecessary cutesy moments (Sebastian the hedgehog is nowhere in sight, deep breath out). Though the add-ons made a few of the characters - both those from the book and those invented for the film (cough cough, Tauriel) fall-flat, it was still as engaging and investing as I thought it would be.
Oh, and there's Smaug. Now THAT'S a dragon. Sorry, Hungarian Horntail, but Smaug really sets the bar in terms of reptilian, fire-breathing epicosity.
Benedict Cumberbatch's voice-over is also incredible, though I wouldn't expect anything voiced by him not to sound incredible. His first scene, with Bilbo, was incredibly tense and well-framed.
Wow. Much Smaug. So desolate.
All in all, this was a pleasure to watch. Still not as good as The Lord of the Rings, but getting there.
A word of warning, though, which is that New Line are clearly trying to subtly set up a Silmarillion movie. Make of that what you will, but I'm not convinced that doing so would be a good idea...