Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to compete.
After successfully crossing over (and under) the Misty Mountains, Thorin and Company must seek aid from a powerful stranger before taking on the dangers of Mirkwood Forest--without their Wizard. If they reach the human settlement of Lake-town it will be time for the hobbit Bilbo Baggins to fulfill his contract with the dwarves. The party must complete the journey to Lonely Mountain and burglar Baggins must seek out the Secret Door that will give them access to the hoard of the dragon Smaug. And, where has Gandalf got off to? And what is his secret business to the south? Written by
Bilbo Baggins and assorted dwarfs continue their journey to Erebor, overcoming various obstacles on the way (including hostile elves) before Bilbo has to try to fulfil his engagement as burglar under the fiery snout of antisocial dragon Smaug.
The second Lord Of The Rings movie suffered from Middle Film Syndrome: Hobbit 2, despite occupying the same position in a trilogy, does not suffer to the same extent, and perhaps this is because it is exciting all the way through, yet follows on from a film which was pretty slow throughout its first half.
It also contains large chunks which do not come from the novel - I'm pretty sure Legolas wasn't in the book. He is great fun here, as a much angrier soldier in the Elf Army. And new creation Tauriel is hugely enjoyable, resembling nothing so much as Uma Thurman's character from Kill Bill, albeit attractively played with the hint of a smile by Evangeline Lilly.
Apart from being a more engaging movie than part 1, pretty much everything I thought about that movie still holds. I still have reservations about the dwarfs - their faces and hair feel obviously prosthetic and wigged, and it's still pretty difficult to tell them apart from each other except for the old one, the one wounded by the orc arrow, Thorin, and James Nesbitt's Irish one. I still have reservations about CGI orc faces - the prosthetic orc faces work noticeably better. I still have reservations about some of the action sequences, where more is not necessarily better (one sequence, in particular had the audience laughing because of the extent to which the Elvish derring-do was over-derring-done). And there are times when Bilbo looks cut out and pasted into a scene. And, once again, the 3D is indifferent.
Otherwise, this was great fun. Loads of action, some nice character work, an excellent and nasty spider fight, a well-voiced and visually realised Smaug, and not the slightest yen to look at my watch.
And a cliff-hanger. You swine, Jackson.
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