Studio: Warner Bros. (2 hr. 41 min.)
Plot: The continuing adventure of Bilbo Baggins as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf and 13 Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.
Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly
Bottom Line: ***1/2
By Laurence Washington
Admittedly, I’m not a diehard Middle Earth fan. But I do enjoy the series, despite finding the “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” a little long and boring in parts. Enter “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which is a little more of the same, i.e. giant spiders, Orcs by the bushel, but ah, there’s the introduction of Smaug – a hypnotic and wonderful oily dragon voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Smaug steals the show, but unfortunately he doesn’t raise his slithery head until the third act. You might recall the last scene of “An Unexpected Journey,” ends with Smaug alerted to the fact that the 13 boisterous dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), are approaching their lost kingdom of Erebor inside the Lonely Mountain where Smaug is nestled in their gold.
Making a welcome appearance are Elf warriors Orlando Bloom's Legolas and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) who aid Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and the dwarves against evil spiders and the constant onslaught of Orcs, which gets a little tedious. It seems they kill one Orc, and five more appear. So fear not, there are no shortages of Orcs. Don’t those guys ever give up?
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is a wonderful looking film, and the addition of 3-D is totally unnecessary – unless you like spending extra money and wearing goofy sunglasses. Director Peter Jackson conjures true darkness in this film, unlike the first one, as black forces rage around Bilbo, who the dwarves recruited to steal the Arkenstone, a gem that Smaug is guarding. Once Bilbo enters Smaug’s lair, Jackson’s direction moves rapidly at breakneck speed, so much so moviegoers will not see the end coming until they reluctantly leave the theatre exhausted and wanting more.