wasn't completely enamored with it. Like many people, I found the pace to be somewhat slow and some of the characters lacking in development. Many of those issues, however, are resolved here and I found myself enjoying this installment almost as much as The Lord of the Rings. Here are some of my thoughts on it:
- This film has a pace that never lets up from beginning to end. Jackson doesn't waste time re-hashing any of the back story from the first film. We pick up right where we left off and roll seamlessly from one adventure to another. You almost can't predict where it will end since the pace never lets up.
-We get to witness so many great moments from the book in this film. Whether you are most excited about the Elves of Mirkwood, Beorn, Bard the Bowman, Smaug, or (like me) dwarves in barrels, you'll find it here. We also gain a little more insight to most of the dwarves and they each begin to be their own unique character rather than just a group with one stand out (Thorin).
-I didn't see this film in IMAX or 3D, but the visuals were still stunning. Those spiders in Mirkwood were crazy scary and realistic. I almost came out of my skin watching those scenes! And Smaug was magnificently done with eyes that, as my sister put it, "look through your very soul". For all of that, there were times that I kind of wish they had used a little less CGI and visual tricks. Legolas' eyes were very distracting, and most of the Orcs seemed so smooth and almost fake compared to the ones from LOTR.
-The acting is, once again, superb. Martin Freeman continues his impressive portrayal of Bilbo and I am more impressed with him every time I see him. And may I just say...BENEDICT...CUMBERBATCH!!! We don't even actually SEE him and he still commands the screen. His portrayal of Smaug was spot on...evil, intelligent, bored, self-absorbed, insecure, jealous, and vengeful. Every second with Smaug on screen was pure genius.
- I'm still not sure how I feel about Tauriel. This character was created by Peter Jackson for, I believe, three reasons. One was to make sure there was a female character somewhere in the film. The second was to have someone for all of the Arwen fans to root for. And the other was to give Legolas a bit of back story. In the end, I think I had less of a problem with her more of a problem with Legolas in this film. He seriously has nothing to do except to stand around shooting Orcs. He was kind of a waste of space.
- I still think the Pale Orc story line is unnecessary, though certainly less of a distraction here than in An Unexpected Journey.
Overall, this was a step up from AUJ and it certainly deserves all of the praise that it has received. It is a must see for all Middle Earth fans. If you are on the fence after the first film, definitely see this. You will be glad you did and, like the rest of us, eagerly await the story's conclusion.