Last year, when “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” arrived, I said it was very hard to judge the film on its own, since it only provided one third of the story, giving us plenty of introductions, including Bilbo Bagins (Martin Freeman) and the troupe of dwarves bent on reclaiming their homeland from the dragon Smaug, but could not give us a satisfying conclusion since it was, and could only be, one third of a movie.
With the arrival of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” however, we have now passed the halfway point, pushing the story forward enough that we’ve actually reach our destination, if not the conclusion of our quest. With several new characters and additional side plots, this film feels much more cohesive and streamlined, despite being once again more than two and a half hours.
This time, with the setup complete, we are dropped immediately into the action which paused at the end of “An Unexpected Journey” and the quest to reach the Lonely Mountain begins again. Although we have another one-year wait until “The Hobbit: There and Back Again” concludes Jackson’s latest trilogy and the fact that “Desolation of Smaug” ends on a particularly nail-biting cliffhanger, it left me with a much better feeling than the rather anticlimactic ending of “An Unexpected Journey.”
The film is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.