Actually, no. I'd argue that poor storytelling is what killed the film--at least for me and many critics. (There's no accounting for the ticket-buying public, which seems to love nonsensical, overwrought action flicks--witness the box office power of the Transformers films.)
The beauty of being a writer is that scriptwriting failures are educational gold. Below are a few storytelling lessons I gleaned from DoS. (Sorry to resort to a goofy abbreviation, but it's taking all my self control to not make three dozen bad puns on the terrible title).
1. Whose story is it anyway?
It might be Thorin Oakenshield, whose backstory opens the film. He's kingly, tormented, and kind of hot in a hipster-meets-80s-hair-band way. We learn in this backstory that Thorin has not only a quest--to regain the lost assets of his kingdom--but a new enemy, the Necromancer, who's keen to stop him, though we have no clue why. With both a quest and an enemy, Thorin seems like he ought to be the story's hero. However, the climax of the film focuses on Bilbo Baggins, who goes into the dragon's lair to face this fierce enemy, while Thorin and his entourage hang back in safety.
Yet if Bilbo is the hero, what exactly is his quest? What does he set out to achieve? We're never given much information about what motivates him, other than that Gandalf told him to go along with this weird assortment of dwarves. He might be hungry to prove himself valiant, or greedy for gain, or simply sick to death of his boring life in Hobbiton and itching for thrills. We just don't know, because we rarely get very close to him, just like we don't get close to Thorin.
Takeaway: Have a clear protagonist with a goal and motivations to meet that goal, both surface drives and deeper inner drives. Take the time to show why the protagonist is motivated. Make sure the protagonist is intimately involved in the climax moment.
2. Why are you chasing me?
Apparently the scriptwriters thought it wasn't going to be an exciting enough quest for a party of thirteen somewhat silly and unskilled little dudes to make it through the treacherous depths of Mirkwood, past Shelob's redneck cousins, in order to face a fire-breathing enemy that wiped out an entire city single-handed. No, they clearly needed to be chased the entire time by bloodthirsty, gholish orcs who are pursuing for no obvious reason.
The orc chase not only adds nothing, it actually takes away from the story because it feels to darned random. There's no solid reason that the Necromancer opposes Thorin. He supposedly doesn't want the dwarves to become strong again, but WHY? Does he want to get to the gold first so that he can be rich beyond dreams and powerful beyond dreams? The film would make a heck of a lot more sense if he did. But we're never given that much information about the Necromancer's nefarious plot. As the film drags on, it seems he doesn't really have one. And nothing is more of a waste of time than an enemy with no real goals.
Takeaway: Adding random enemies subtracts from the story's core tension, so don't dilute your main plotline with characters who have too little reason to be there. Invest in showing your hero/es unequal to the task being attempted (injuries or hardships work nicely here) or raise the stakes of what they'll lose if they fail.
Antagonists must have a goal. Vague malevolence is about as scary as flatulence--it stinks at first, but dissipates quickly with no lasting effects.
What are your thoughts about creating a clear protagonist and a goal-driven antagonist? Can you think of other examples of films that fail to create solid characters for these two key roles?