As in the first film, it’s up to the brave hearts to obliterate the forces of evil. The mood is fearsome with orcs, spiders and wood-elves terrifying our little big heroes. Filming in his native New Zealand, director Jackson recreates an ancient realm. We can see every dollar of the mega-millions spent on the visual effects and production design.
However, some of that money might have been put to better use on the script which fails to sufficiently develop some of the characters. The viewer is introduced to a gallery of new faces including an elf warrior maiden (Evangeline Lilly) with a soft spot for both her fellow archer (Orlando Bloom, and a hunky dwarf (Aidan Turner).
The highlight is the encounter with Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch). In sum, the film makes for a fairly rewarding fantasy adventure. It also makes us anticipate There and Back Again, the concluding installment of the series which is due for release at the end of next year.