With gripping action and a captivating narrative, infused with genuinely funny moments to boot, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, outdoes its predecessor with ease.
Not a difficult task, the three-hour running time of the first instalment was more than palpable.
The quick pace of this second instalment demands attention, keeping its audience entertained and fully engaged.
It’s great to see an old favourite return in the form of Legolas (Orlando Bloom), while Sir Ian McKellen’s Gandalf is always a treat to watch.
Martin Freeman gets much more to work with as the awkward and pernickety Bilbo Baggins, bringing his much practiced comedy styling to the role.
There are some flaws, mainly in relation to the film production itself. Certain moments look cheap, as if CGI was used excessively for the purpose of time saving.
Obviously, hi-tech computer animation is needed for certain aspects (I’ve heard real dragons can be tricky to work with) but I don’t think Peter Jackson will ever be forgiven for using computer animated Orcs instead of prosthetic-donned actors as he did in the Lord Of The Rings. It’s hard to be fearful of something if it looks like it stepped out of a computer game.
On another note, in one underwater river scene, it looks as if a handy-cam had been used to capture the scene, which would only work if the production nature of the film was of realistic surroundings.
But with scene after scene steeped in what look like a video-game backdrop, it’s just doesn’t quite fit.
There is still dispute as to whether such a small book needed to be adapted into a trilogy of three-hour films, but the story development of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, and its mother of all cliff-hanger endings, it is safe to say your precious time won’t be wasted.