I thought the first was flawed, and I worry for the inclusion of further (actual) made-up bullshit in the sequel with the elflady and Legolas and romance and such. In terms of Empire as a magazine, they will give whatever rating they are required to. For the last fifteen or so years they've been so ingrained in the film industry as a whole that they HAVE to give high-earners good stars for the back cover of the DVD or whatever.
In my view - the Hobbit is far more of a cynical "franchise" thing than anything else, so all of these films are going to be moderate to OK depending on your viewpoint of last decade's lotr trilogy. In our house, which is far more Tolkiencentric than most, we've nicknamed the Hobbit trilogy "Peter's indulgence" which is basically what it is. A lovely promo film for New Zealand as a country and something to keep Peter and his local mates in work, but basically nothing more really. The definitive article is the book - everything else is nothing.