This is the second part of a trilogy of films, based on Tolkien's 1937 novel, The Hobbit. The movie continues the epic journey of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman).
Bilbo joins the Wizard, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and thirteen dwarves on a quest to regain the lost Kingdom of Erebor. The Kingdom is held by Smaug, the last great dragon of Middle Earth.
Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) is a huge dragon who guards the treasures of Erebor deep beneath Lonely Mountain. The term 'desolation' in the movie's title is not meant to indicate that Smaug is sad in any way. Rather, he is a dragon that has desolated everything around him, ravaging everything to protect his guardianship.
The previous film in the series, 'An Unexpected Journey,' was too long in establishing its narrative; it moved erratically to assert the validity of the quest to regain Erebor; and it used photographic realism to give its three-dimensional look an artificial sharpness. In this movie, all those problems are fixed.
This movie is high-pursuit fantastic action, and the entertainment appeal of that is helped enormously by the involvement of Guillermo del Toro who collaborates frequently with Peter Jackson, and who helped write the screenplay for the film. Some of the special sequences illustrate highly imaginative effects.
They include the spiders (which are genuinely scary) ensnaring the group in their gossamer webs, a white-river rafting sequence with the dwarves in barrels being attacked by invading Orcs, and the final show-down of Bilbo and Smaug, which though a little long, establishes a nail-biting finale to the film.
This is a high action-packed, energetic, imaginative adventure-tale, that has many dark and gloomy moments. However, it has tremendous momentum, is gorgeous to watch, communicates Tolkien's mystery inventively, and starts to anticipate seriously The Lord of The Rings.
This movie contains far more action than heroism, and the moral superiority of Good over Evil nearly always takes a back seat to trying to maintain a furious action pace. The movie, however, holds one's imagination creatively throughout all of its duration
- Peter Sheehan, ACOFB
tarring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Aiden Turner, and Evangeline Liddy. Directed by Peter Jackson. Rated M (Fantasy violence). 161 min.