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FILM REVIEW: THE HOBBIT – THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (12A)

Well that’s better!

It may not be to the standard of any of  The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but this sequel to last year’s competent – but soooooo tediously slow – The Hobbit puts the series back on a more even track.

That’s mainly due to A) the addition of Evangeline Lilly’s kick-ass female elf Tauriel, B) new human hero in the form of Brit Luke Evans’ Bard, and C) a truly massive computer-generated fire-breathing dragon voiced by Benedict ‘He’s in everything’ Cumberbatch.

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Throw in the welcome return of Orlando Bloom’s elvish archer Legolas, and then this second episode in Peter Jackson’s new trilogy is a more palatable experience – slicker with more action set-pieces and some dazzling visuals.

Again, it’s not without its wobbles – particularly with some of the narrative and a dragged-out final third – but the continuing story of Martin Freeman’s hobbit Bilbo, Ian McKellen’s wizardly Gandalf, Richard Armitage’s dwarf leader Thorin and their band of dwarves trying to reclaim their lost kingdom of Eribor, thankfully contains some of that old Tolkien magic.

This is helped by a truly noteworthy barrel escape scene which is the meat in the sandwich to Bilbo’s ultimate aim of burgling a lost dwarf treasure from literally under the nose of the dragon Smaug.

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Considering this final part was split into two it does surprisingly feel more confidently pieced together than the first instalment – even better witnessed in breathtakingly lifelike HFR (High Frame Rate) 3D – but it’s still hard to connect with the band of dwarves like you did with the fellowship in the first ‘Rings’ film.

That said, this is still a return to form for Jackson, who does a pretty good job of ridding himself of ‘ring-rust’ to set this up for an epic finale.

The threat of a dragon has finally put the ‘heart’ into The Hobbit.

Gavin Miller

Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Luke Evans, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Ken Stott, Stephen Fry, Cate Blanchett, Sylvester McCoy, Graham McTavish, James Nesbitt, Aidan Turner, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, John Callen, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, William Kircher, Peter Hambleton, Mark Hadlow, Ryan Gage, Manu Bennett, Lawrence Makoare, and the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch

Running Time: 2hrs 40mins

Director: Peter Jackson

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Legend

Written by ESP Magazine

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