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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Ladies and gentlemen, empty your bladders before seeing The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug for it is a daunting 161 minutes.  Almost a perfect 3 hours with previews.

But it’s worth it.

The Hobbit (Part 2) starts us off with a little bit of back story before bringing us right back where we left off from the first film.  Since the first film set up all the exposition, this one is nearly all action and adventure.

That’s right! Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Biblo (Martin Freeman), Thorin (Richard Armitage) and all the other dwarves are still making their way to the Lonely Mountain to pilfer from the sleeping dragon Smaug.

On their way, they encounter a skin-changer, fight fierce spiders in the Mirkwood, deal with haughty wood elves, seek aid in and around Lake-Town all before even making it to the mountain.  Oh, and Gandalf wanders away to find out why the orcs are gathering in such numbers.

Did I mention all the action?  Because there’s plenty.  And if dwarves, hobbits and mages aren’t your thing you may be interested to know that Orlando Bloom returns as Legolas.  His is a tale that intertwines with the dwarves and he is aided by the captain of the wood elf guard, Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly).  Let it be noted that Tauriel is easily the most bad-ass character in a film full of bad-asses.

I saw The Hobbit (Part the Second) in IMAX 3D and while no movie has yet to match the impressive visual feats of Avatar, this one comes close.  Director Peter Jackson once again sets up dazzling set-pieces so vast that you have to wonder if he didn’t have a small planet built before filming.  While it doesn’t quite jump off the screen, it does look like the screen is a football field deep.

Of course, being a Peter Jackson film there is lots and lots of SFX and I’ll give credit where credit is due: it’s nearly flawless.  Yes, there are a few moments where you can tell it’s CGI but considering the sheer amount of effects it’s forgivable.

And the action.  Oh, the action!  For all those dozens of people who actually liked 1977’s animated The Hobbit, I’m sorry to say that The Desolation of Smaug completely crushes that film’s barrel scene.  It has immediately jumped to the best action sequence I have seen in 2013.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: A-