It brims with visual splendor as one would expect and certainly aims for more excitement than An Unexpected Journey. Problematically, the Desolation of Smaug really didn't feel like something out of Tolkien, but more our of the director's personal enjoyment, causing problems that hampered my satisfaction for this sequel of a prequel.
It was nice to see the cast enjoying themselves, but Martin Freeman's performance felt rather dry this time around, not nearly as invested as in the first movie. There is also a love triangle between certain characters that feels somewhat forced and out of place.
Speaking of which, the movie's pacing, while done for the best intentions, is very erratic, thanks to the bevy of sub-plots that are constantly cut between, taking away from getting involved with some of the more important scenes. And while the Smaug scene was nothing short of a Sherlock/Watson reunion, the charm dies down pretty quickly with, again, cutting between other sub-plots going on.
Other problems involve occasionally bothersome predictability, later, the ridiculousness of the movie's more exciting bits, very few resolutions due to the numerous sub-plots handled, and the astronomical amount of filler (or so it felt) that the sub-plots cause.
With all that said, DOS isn't a bad movie. When the plot moves forward, it is worth watching. There is plenty of charisma and chemistry to go about, and the movie is nevertheless meaningful, albeit longer than it should be. There are some great, forgivably over-the-top action sequences to experience, and some of the filler is nonetheless well-handled.
Many seem to enjoy this installment of the Hobbit series over the first, but I found AUJ was a lot more fun to watch thanks to a good build up for things to come, while DOS suffers from a lack of focus resulting in many of the aforementioned problems I had with it. But what DOS does best is build up for a hopefully more epic sequel and conclusion to an otherwise great representation of Tolkien territory.