Director Peter Jackson brings another big Christmas time blockbuster from Middle Earth to a theater near you. “The Desolation of Smaug” picks up nearly where “An Unexpected Journey” leaves off. Once again, this movie should be subtitled “Gandalf Runs with Short People.” Although there are a few epic battle scenes, there is a lot of extreme wide shots of the characters running. Unlike its predecessor though, this one is better and much more energetic. By all accounts, the river battle is a spectacular marriage of cinematography and CGI. Some of the sequences from the movie are not found in “The Hobbit,” but found in “The Quest of Erebor.” That’s how a–what should be a 3hr movie all together–becomes a trilogy. Whether you’re a fan of the franchise or not, you cannot escape the awesomeness of Smaug on screen. Like so many movies though, there lacks measurable character development and exposition. All-in-all, Jackson’s sequel has done a much better job at entertaining and capturing the imagination of the audience than in the first one.

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