Where Bilbo becomes broody, the Dwarves get angsty, Gandalf proves that he might not have read Tolkien’s book and we finally meet Smaug.
As with the first installment Peter Jackson has bent the books plot to suit himself (Beorn), borrowed from other parts of Middle Earth lore and this time added a subplot or two of his own. Like the first installment some of the action scenes are a little lengthy (e.g. the barrels) while other brooding scenes that are trying to stitch The Hobbit Trilogy to the Lord of the Rings trilogy slow the film down. But that is enough with the negatives that I can overlook.
It is fantastic to be back in Middle Earth, there is a lot of running around at first, the set pieces in chokingly close Mirkwood and the escape from the vastness of the wood elves lair are all just leading up to our introduction to the treasure loving dragon Smaug. If you do not already know who voices the dragon I won’t spoil if for you but I will say he captured the enormity of the character and, even with Stephen Fry making an appearance, Smaug stole the show.
In the first installment I was not alone in finding the hyper realistic high frame photography to be a little off putting. Director Peter Jackson has toned it down to reflect those criticisms so I gave the 3D another shot. It certainly was not as headache inducing as An Unexpected Journey and even though at times it almost has the feel of watching a theatrical performance on the whole it worked for me.
Avoid if you are scared of dragons.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is in Cinemas now.