The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
In this scenario, the overall winner in the Middle-earth showdown in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, triumphant over The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
Is Two Towers superior to The Desolation of Smaug in certain regards? Will some moviegoers still prefer the former, due to its iconic status in moviemaking history and sheer epic tone? Yes and yes, on those counts, but The Desolation of Smaug is arguably better as a whole package - an exhilarating fantasy adventure with heart, humor, and timeless themes.
Mind you, that doesn't take away from Two Towers, which remains an excellent work of filmmaking; it's merely recognition that, in its own way, The Desolation of Smaug might be better at reaching the goal that it sets for itself.
If An Unexpected Journey was the journey to the top of the roller coaster, then the second Hobbit installment is the thrilling plunge that follows afterwards. Hopefully, we'll get thrown for some wild loops along the way during the (again, with fingers crossed) satisfying denouement, The Hobbit: There and Back Again.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is now playing in theaters.