Although character development is lacking, action packed sequel shines

If the first few minutes were any indication, this was going to be a long movie. If it’s possible to have a movie longer than what is to be expected with an adaptation of “The Hobbit.” But after a slow start, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” picked up and continued on a fairly steady path of action and dramatic undertones for the remaining two and a half PHOTO COURTESY OF LIONSGATE - Film open -- Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) faces Smaug in the Lonely Mountain during the second installment in the Hobbit series, 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The film opened Dec. 13.

Resuming where the first movie left off, the characters make their trek to Lonely Mountain. Along the way, fight scenes ensue — my favorite of which involved the dwarves tumbling down a river fighting an endless supply of orcs. Who knew there were so many ways to kill someone using an arrow or a stick?

When things slow down and the story line falters, this is where the film starts lacking. Although the run time is 161 minutes, only a handful of them are used for character development, predominantly the love triangle between Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Kili (Aidan Turner) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly). In some ways I’m not surprised the only female character was thrown into a love triangle, in other ways I wish she was left to be the badass warrior she clearly is.

A hop, skip and a jump later, the heroes arrive in Laketown, where the film builds to an ultimate success entering the mountain. And then the dragon appears. Voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, Smaug is gloriously evil, dark and omniscient. It’s a shame he didn’t make an appearance until the end of the film.

As far as the book-to-film argument, the plot lines were there, albeit at times buried beneath the fluff. But it can be viewed in two ways: the additional pieces gave depth to the book, or they get in the way of the story line. I chose an optimistic viewpoint because it’s hard to argue the movie’s greatness.

The film doesn’t resolve, as anticipated, cutting off viewers in a gasp with the fate of Laketown unknown and Smaug flying into the distance. As with the first installment, the final piece is a year out. This is too much time in between to keep the excitement and anticipation going, but the film in itself is worth seeing. Diehard Tolkien fans may not completely approve, but moviegoers will appreciate the action-packed sequel.

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