The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The lively set-pieces are undoubtedly impressive, but Jackson's bloated sequel is way too long
It may represent an improvement on An Unexpected Journey but Peter Jackson continues to test the patience of Lord of The Rings fans with bloated sequel, The Desolation of Smaug. Clocking in at in excess of two and a half hours, this second film in The Hobbit trilogy hits the ground running with a couple of impressive set pieces but runs out of puff long before it reaches the scenes with Tolkien’s fabled dragon.
The story continues the quest by the dwarves (accompanied by Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf) to reclaim Erebor, the homeland, from Smaug the dragon. En route, Bilbo (nicely played by Martin Freeman) grapples with the darker elements of his new-found ring, while Thorin (Richard Armitage) attempts to get to grips with his own mighty destiny.
Jackson's film is at its best when he keeps things lively, as is proved by some deftly-handled set pieces, including an extended battle against giant spiders and a thrilling river escape in wine barrels. But as the running time wears on, the journey starts to feel arduous. Jackson doesn’t help his cause by adding further padding, with the introduction of unnecessary characters such as the Elven guard Tauriel (played by Evangeline Lily) and a lacklustre romance between her and one of the dwarves. Even returning Rings favourite Legolas (Orlando Bloom) outstays his welcome, especially during the climactic battles in which you just wish that Jackson would get on with it.
For all of its technical prowess, The Desolation of Smaug impresses only in fits and starts, and makes the prospect of a third film feel daunting to say the least.