Review Roundup: THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
The second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.(c) WB
Let's see what the critics have to say...
Ian Buckwalter, NPR: "...all that really happens in the film is that the company manages to eventually reach the mountain. Sure, they're waylaid in the elven realm of Mirkwood - and the human Lake Town - for a little while on the way. But there's no particular arc here, just nearly three hours of bludgeoning rising action, culminating in a battle sequence invented by the filmmakers to provide an artificial climax."
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: "Benedict Cumberbatch, who now rules the world, provides the voice of Smaug. Whatever one's personal investment in the Tolkien mythology, the dragon on screen is one hell of a dragon. Smaug's first close-up finds the beast asleep beneath mountains of gold coins, and when we see one eye open, it's a wonderful, awful sight. Elsewhere there's a truly scary giant-spider sequence, a little long - everything's a little long in Smaug - but more than enough to give younger viewers some fairly bad dreams."
Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter: "After exhibiting an almost craven fidelity to his source material the first time out, Jackson gets the drama in gear here from the outset with a sense of storytelling that possesses palpable energy and purpose. Toward the end, his perennial tendency to let bloat creep in reasserts itself to an extent; as in the Lord of the Rings films, not to mention King Kong, he has a hard time knowing when enough is enough even as the three-hour goalpost looms dead ahead. But for the most part he moves the episodic tale along with reasonable speed for a leviathan while serving up enough fights, close shaves and action-filled melodrama for an old-fashioned movie serial or a modern video game."
Justin Chang, Variety: "But the strongest point of connection between this adventure and those yet to come is the Hobbit himself, specifically his growing fascination with the mysterious artifact he acquired in An Unexpected Journey. Even at this early stage, the ring's insidious pull is unmistakable, and Freeman allows a few dark shadings to creep into his otherwise charming embodiment of Bilbo Baggins, whose gradual transformation from reluctant tag-along into stealthy and reliable asset helps sustain viewer engagement through the picture's occasional laborious stretches."