Peter Jackson's first Hobbit film didn't exactly wow critics. They're not gushing about Desolation of Smaug either, but most seem to agree that it's an improvement, with more action than its predecessor, and it's boasting a healthy 75% as of this writing on Rotten Tomatoes. Here's a taste of what they're saying:
- "Jackson gets the drama in gear here from the outset with a sense of storytelling that possesses palpable energy and purpose," writes Todd McCarthy at the Hollywood Reporter, although "with prolonged exposure to this tale comes awareness of some of the premise's limitations." Suspense, for example "cannot be a factor" because the elves are immortal, and the dwarves seemingly so. "You'd think a few dwarves might be sacrificed, but nope, they're all charmed."
- If the first Hobbit was a little boring and a lot long, "The Desolation of Smaug is a little less long and a little less boring," writes Peter Travers at Rolling Stone."But, oh, that dragon." It's all worth it for Smaug; Jackson works the same wizardry he did on Gollum, making the dragon "a bloody wonder of slithering fright. And Benedict Cumberbatch gives him a voice to match." His scenes "imbue this bloated 3D movie with a sense of character and purpose."
- "JRR Tolkein would be outraged beyond belief" at the liberties Jackson has taken, writes Alex O'Hehir at Salon. But "I'm kind of OK with it. I mean, introducing a love affair between a rebel Elf chick and a hot dwarf dude is so far beyond anything Tolkien would ever have countenanced that it amounts to a declaration of independence. This trilogy has become its own thing," and that thing is "a rip-snorting, barrel-riding adventure" that's pretty fun.
- But Mick LaSalle is, um, a little more negative. The movie "should never have been made," he writes at the San Francisco Chronicle. It "fails in almost every way, as a story, as an adventure, as a piece of art direction, and as a visual spectacle." Its colors are drab, its character development missing in action. "The story is just sitting there waiting while Orlando Bloom goes through the motions of stabbing various monsters in the head."
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