The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - reviews

Middle-earth gets its mojo back with satisfying second instalment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy

LAST UPDATED AT 07:47 ON Fri 13 Dec 2013

What you need to know

Reviewers say Middle-earth has “got its mojo back” with the second instalment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy opening in UK cinemas today. The Desolation of Smaug, part two of Jackson’s three-part adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s fantasy adventure novel follows the poorly reviewed An Unexpected Journey. Part three, There and Back Again, is due out next December.

The Desolation of Smaug sees hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) journeying with Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and a band of dwarves, on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor and combat the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).

The movie features regulars Richard Armitage as dwarf Thorin and Orlando Bloom as Elf Legolas, with series newcomer Evangeline Lilly as elf Tauriel and a guest appearance by Stephen Fry.

What the critics like

“Middle-earth's got its mojo back,” says Nick de Semlyen in Empire. The Desolation of Smaug is a huge improvement on the previous instalment, taking our adventurers into uncharted territory and delivering spectacle by the ton.
 
Jackson has picked up the pace with this “cheerfully entertaining and exhilarating adventure tale”, says Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. This supercharged Saturday morning picture is mysterious and strange, yet effortlessly genial, while its mighty running time of two hours 40 minutes never sags.
 
“Smaug satisfies both as a Saturday-matinee serial and as a tempting fanfare for the climactic There and Back Again,” says Richard Corliss in Time. In all, The Desolation of Smaug is a thrilling achievement nearly matching the grandeur of Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films.
 
What they don’t like

“The second leg of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy is mostly stalling for time,” says Robbie Collin in the Daily Telegraph. There are two or three truly great sequences tangled up in long beards and longer pit-stops, in short, an awful lot of Desolation to wade through before we arrive, weary and panting, on Smaug’s rocky porch.             · 

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