I’m not an aficionado of J.R.R. Tolkien’s wonderworlds and I was bored with the first “Hobbit” movie. All this is by way of saying I quite liked its sequel and the second in the trilogy, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Director Peter Jackson is, as always, guilty of (literal) overkill, but there’s much more eye-catching mayhem here than in the last one, which I mostly remember as one long dwarf convention.
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) gets to face off against one of the great movie dragons of all time and there’s a giant spider attack sequence that represents Jackson at his gross-out best. Ian McKellen, as Gandalf, shows up again, of course, though he’s spared the spiders. Most middle movies in a trilogy simply mark time. Not this one. Grade: B+ (Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.)