The Desolation of Smaug is a grand improvement of the first as thematic elements finally find their place, but its obviously fluffed up to justify an unnecessary trilogy.

Thorin and company have reached Lake-town and it is time for the hobbit Bilbo Baggins to fulfill his contract with the dwarves. The party must complete the journey to Lonely Mountain and burglar Baggins must seek out the Secret Door that will give them access to the hoard of the dragon Smaug. If Bilbo and the others are able to gain the treasure, will they be able to keep it? And will they discover what has become of the wizard Gandalf?

After an overlong introduction that displeased a majority of nerds and movie fans, the audience is finally given something to feast on in the Desolation of Smaug.

The ensemble delivers great performances. Aiden Turner and Ken Stott stand out with expanded screen time. The supporting cast is a perfect fit as new addition Lee Pace is graceful yet intimidating. Evangeline Lily is great despite being relegated as a love interest.

The Desolation of Smaug has more depth than the first as Tolkien’s themes are put into place. The emotional and physical stakes are higher which make it more involving.

The film is heavy with CGI. But when Peter Jackson is not busy embellishing scenes he can still turn action pieces into fun adventures. The barrel ride down the river (a good attraction for amusement parks to pick up) could have been a confusing mess, but it was handled well that it became an intricate chase.

Of course, the main highlight of the film is Smaug the dragon. When the spectacular beast flies into air, for a second you forget how terrible he can be.

And for those who are not familiar with the book it can make you forget that this is an adaptation of a slim children’s story that could have been made into a self contained film.

The love triangle and the return of the big bad is used to fluff up the movie. So expect more distractions (that may very well fall into fan fiction) when the the final three hour installment finishes the trilogy.

Still, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug is a great popcorn movie. However, Tolkien aficionados may not appreciate Jackson’s attempt to rehash the magic of LOTR by diluting the Hobbit into a prequel of sorts.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Alternate Movie Poster by Harijs Grundmanis

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