A Worthy Sequel
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the second movie in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit movie trilogy, based on the J.R.R. Tolkien's book of the same name. This story is a continuation of Bilbo Baggins' (Martin Freeman) and Gandalf the Grey's (Ian McKellan) quest to the Lonely Mountain to help the Dwarves recover their trasured Arkensonestone, which is guarded by the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), and recover the dwarf homeland of Erebor. Along the way, they are being hunted by the deadly Orcs, and other deadly beings and creatures.
There are quite a few differences between this movie and the book, like extended scenes with the elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and the she-elf Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) but it doesn't detract from the quality of the movie. Besides, its rather pointless to get into comparisons, since most of us have either never really read the whole book, or don't remember everything about it from our childhoods. This movie, like the recent superhero movies, can heavily deviate from the source material, so I have learned to judge these book-to-screen translations based on their own merits. That being said, this was an great movie.
It's probably a given to say that the special effects were marvelously handled, based on other entries in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series. If you can stand wearing the glasses for almost three hours, the best way to see this movie is in 3D. The 3D scenes are used to pull viewers into the epic world of Middle-Earth, while throwing just enough at you to make you a part of the action (my kids were swinging at things on the screen). If you suffer from arachnaphobia, then you may want to stay away from this movie. This movie had its share of dramatic and touching moments, but there was a good amount of intelligent humor and wit to balance things out. Where the movie really excelled was in the action scenes. Its good to see Legolas and his kin back on screen taking orcs out, and the scenes with Smaug are very intense. I'm not sure if it was necessary, since we all we know how the story of the 'one ring' unfolds, but they added scenes with Galdolf to bridge the gap between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogies.
If there is any complaint I had about the movie, it was that it was a tad too long. It runs about two hours and forty minutes. As much as I was enjoying it, there were some drawn out scenes, and my eyes started to get heavy near the end of the movie. For the whole final hour, I had to constantly provide the 'its almost over' response to my seven year old son. A few unnecessary scenes should have been saved for the inevitable release of the Extended/Director's Cut DVD/Bluray. It went on so long, that he eventually broke down and confessed that he had to go to the bathroom. Of course, by time a seven year old boy admits he has to go, its often already be too late. So, in the mddle of the movie's final scene, I grabbed my son's hand and started the mad dash to the restroom. Not only did we not make it in time to avoid disaster, but by time we got back to the theater, the credits were rolling. Fortunately, my daughter was there to provide a detailed synopsis of the final five minutes. I may have to wait for the home release to actually see the final scenes.
+ Great action scenes. Good mix of dramatic, humorous, and touching moments. Better than the prequel. - Too long.