Very good blog posting about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
I agree with the writer that I would have been happy to skip the incident of the stone giants in the mountains. Unless it’s leading to something in the later parts of the trilogy, it doesn’t go anywhere, and cutting it would probably have made the two big battles that follow it feel less like too much of a good thing.
I disagree, though, with what she writes about Azog seeming superfluous in the story. There are a number of clues in An Unexpected Journey that Azog’s significance in the story is going to turn out to be a lot greater than it currently appears.
The author writes, “I’m not assuming that Azog will turn out to be working for Sauron, though it’s possible.” But it’s more than possible, it’s certain, or Howard Shore wouldn’t have used the Mordor theme from The Lord of the Rings every time Azog shows up. In LOTR, the motif is used only with servants of Sauron, and his score is clearly intended to mesh with his score for LOTR. So Azog must be working for Sauron.
Furthermore, if you can put two and two together, there is a very strong clue in AUJ of a direct connection between Azog and the Necromancer. True, the Necromancer isn’t identified with Sauron anywhere in AUJ, but we know from Tolkien’s books that they are going to turn out to be one and the same.
So again, Azog must be working for Sauron.