The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Director: Peter Jackson
Year Released: 2013
Rating: 3.0

Part two of the Hobbit trilogy still has Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the Dwarves (led by Richard Armitage) marching along as they try to reclaim their homeland (and treasure) from a massive, nearly indestructible dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). Sure, it's a bridge story - just like The Two Towers was - and ardent fans can quibble about minor details and derivations from the source text by Tolkien, but I found it to be an energetic and, most importantly, fun fantasy movie (a genre, I'll confess, I'm not a big fan of) that loses track of Gandalf for a bit (he squares off against the Necromancer, again voiced by Cumberbatch) and focuses a good deal on the Dwarves as they try to demolish their dragon-foe (he will eventually get his in part three). Fun little addition to this particular segment of the narrative: Evangeline Lilly as an elf who falls in love with a dwarf ... a dose of forbidden love, perhaps?