This type of critique really puzzles me. We have known for three years that we were going off the page to actually experience what happened whilst Gandalf was on his "other business". It was cool three years ago to say "I am not up for an adult re imagining of the Hobbit, placed in its geo political context" As a deep fan what else did you expect.
I am also completely non plussed how people do not see the reason for contraction of times and transference into the real time line. Deep fans might want to have continual contextualisation of the past as look backs but if you want immediate emotional engagement for a global audience whom no nothing of the appendices you make it happen in front of them.
I am huge fan of the English Patient but thats hard work for a lot of cinema goers not because they are not bright but they want to discover the story through forward momentum.
I miss the splendid Azog/Thror/Nar/ Revenge Battle/Nain/Dain arc but I see exactly why they went where they did. Azog is/was hated by Thorin and the rest of the company we get to experience that real time.
It maybe it is because my partner is a non Tolkien fan who enjoyed AUJ but I see these decisions in the round.
Elsewhere you criticise the endless pace and reducing of Bilbo as do others.
After Rivendell if you compare time spent on small moments with Bilbo against large scale spectacular moments they are about even. The key actions sequences Giants/Goblin Capture and Goblin escape take up less time than the Gollum/Bilbo encounter. Giants/G Capture/G Escape/Cones may not be to your taste in execution but they were in the book. Many people lauded Sam Mendes for taking seven minutes over the key encounter between Craig and Bardem at 7 minutes, G/B is more than twice that.
Whether we like it or not these films are huge and need to play beyond 10,000 people registered with Onering.net. In that context the longest scenes bag end and riddles were very brave.
As someone whom was introduced to Tolkien 47 years ago I thought the film reflected what we know. Whatever the film makers strengths and weakness's they are placing moving images which refract a good deal of Tolkiens world on to the screen. They like Bilbo may not have told us everything in an entirely accurate way or dare I say how we see it, but it is middle earth, and for me a believable one, from which much pleasure can be drawn rather than worrying about a handful of moments that are flawed. Of course for some very little works and for those nothing will assuage their sense of disappointment and displeasure, hopefully they will find solace elswhere.
The Necromancer in the Hobbit book was just a name given to where Gandalf was going and something told that was beyond Thorin. His involvement in the Hobbit was a matter of 2 sentences and nothing more. Had Tolkien fleshed him out more in this period and time. I wouldn't mind seeing him included but only as a secondary bad guy. But with the direction Jackson is going Smaug will end up being an after thought to the necromancer aka Sauron and the BO5A will end up being about something other than fighting over treasure which is all it was about. Why else would the Witch King be making an appearance? Why would they be making the White Council all about finding out the Necromancer is Sauron? And wouldn't that bring up issues about Sauron's ring? Which by all accounts now we know Bilbo has a newly found ring. I'm sorry but a 5 year old could figure out this line of plot development.. Which makes me think Gandalf must have been an idiot since he spends so much time investigating Sauron and DolGuldur right after Bilbo finds a magic ring. Maybe had they left the time frame alone and given Gandalf time to be in DolGuldur 90 years before the Hobbit events it might make more sense. but all of it happening about the same time is IMO terrible writing and make Gandalf look stupid IMO again.
Change for the sake of change is not a good thing... I realize there is growth and change but to make changes just for the sake of technology, or to make something fit into a mold that it was never meant to fit in doesn't improve anything it only makes it worse and I think AUJ proves that without a doubt.