I CERTAINLY never remembered J.R.R. Tolkein's The Hobbit being so action packed.
I never thought it needed the trilogy treatment on film either.
While three films for one book seems like a bit of a money grab, I walked out of The Desolation of Smaug anticipating next year's final flick more than I have for any other film set in Middle Earth.
It may very well be the best Lord of the Rings/Hobbit film to date.
Peter Jackson's latest instalment in his Hobbit trilogy continues this Boxing Day.
The Desolation of Smaug continues on immediately from last year's An Unexpected Journey.
Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) join a band of dwarves on a quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland from the dragon Smaug (voiced impressively by Benedict Cumberbatch).
It didn't take long for The Desolation of Smaug to surpass its predecessor as the superior film.
The story's already set - there's no need to waste an hour or more setting the story.
It's straight into the action in this one.
I felt as though the story focus shifted in this one from mostly focusing on Bilbo to the whole group and various supporting characters.
Supporting characters such as the elves Legolas, reprised by Orlando Bloom and Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly, certainly weren't deprived of screen time and add a great deal to the story (despite not being in the book for which the movie is based).
If anyone it's Gandalf who gets a bit short changed in this film in terms of screen time.
Some of the scenes felt a bit darker than the previous movie - there were a couple of orcs who had their heads decapitated (don't worry, there's no blood) and it felt like Bilbo built up a bit of a kill streak in this one.
Where in the first film a lot of the action felt forced, here it's a whole lot more natural.
The scene with the barrels in the river was one of the most memorable scenes in the film and the scenes with Smaug and his mountains of gold were amazing in 3D.
Speaking of Smaug, he's easily the most impressive looking CGI character to ever grace a Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movie.
He's certainly one of the most commanding characters for this big screen flick.
Where the ending for An Unexpected Journey was somewhat disappointing, this will have fans screaming 'what?!' at the cinema screen when it fades to black.
The ending of Desolation of Smaug is an absolute cliff-hanger.
I already know what I'll be doing Boxing Day 2014.
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
Stars: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Any Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch
Director: Peter Jackson
Reviewer: Patrick Williams
Stars: 4 stars
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