The second Hobbit movie in which Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and the dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) try to reclaim their Kingdom of Erebor and its gold from Smaug the dragon. On the way they’re imprisoned by the elves led by Orlando Bloom, and they get to the Kingdom ruled by Stephen Fry. Smaug is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Bilbo must face the dragon.
There is no Gollum in this, so we get no eccentricities at a tangent, just different confrontations. The visual effects are spectacular, especially the forest. The obvious thing about making a fantasy film is that you make it appear as unworldly as you can, otherwise it is just actors in fancy dress walking through an everyday forest. You can’t do this if your budget is restricted, but if that is the case maybe it’s better not to do it at all. Peter Jackson of course has a limitless budget. The elves’ kingdom is spindly and cathedral-cavernous, the only permitted tone is portentous and breathy even if you were to read out a supermarket shopping list. The elves talk like they’ve undergone brain removal surgery but the visual distractions compensate. The dwarves escape in barrels rolling down the river then they face the Orcs (who look like rugby players after a white mud bath), but they look scary. The fishing village is peopled with Volvo types and their cute Harry Potter Britishness, so I was glad to get to Erebor and here the visual spectacle is breathtaking (if a little like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom magnified). Smaug is somewhat domesticated by familiarity but the scene still holds the attention. Martin Freeman is good as the ordinary hobbit, who could be punching above his weight if he didn’t have that peskily unsporting gold ring with him. The dwarves are all militant rectitude, so shop worn since the glowering antics of the downtrodden, squeezed out any wit in Braveheart and it’s ilk. Their militant hairy rectitude gets a little wearisome. Gandalf’s talent for avoidable danger leads him into the usual perils that we know he can overcome (this plot device ultimately scuppers Harry Potter). Good entertainment.