The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is better than the movie that preceded it, but it still pales in comparison to the Lord of the Rings movies. While visually interesting and having good acting, there are loads of scenes and side plots to this story that are really obvious filler material. The movie force-feeds fan service to the audience in the hopes that their familiarity with the Lord of the Rings will make them enjoy it more. It sadly reminds me of Star Wars trilogy in that respect.
Bilbo Baggins, played by Martin Freeman, travels with his 13 dwarf companions and Gandalf, played by Ian McKellen, toward the Lonely Mountain and Smaug the dragon. They must enter the Mirkwood forest and face many dangers. Gandalf must also address an issue with a Necromancer bringing evil to Middle Earth. They need to show courage and ingenuity in order to get to the Lonely Mountain and face the terrible dragon.
The acting is pretty decent for this chapter. Martin Freeman is good at bringing heart to Bilbo Baggins. The One Ring is taking its toll on him and it shows. For the most part everyone else just seems to be going through the motions. The effects and the action scenes are at least pretty fun to watch. The amount of CGI is a bit crazy at times, making it almost as if you are watching a cartoon.
This movie makes it painfully obvious that The Hobbit did not need to be broken into a trilogy. They add a pointless romance between a female elf that was not in the book, with one of the dwarves. They also put in a scene with Beorn, the skin-changer, which adds nothing to the story. Adding Legolas and talking about Gimli is just fan-service that also is not needed. As if that isn’t enough, giving the character of the Necromancer multiple scenes was certainly unnecessary.
There are plenty of versions of this story that have been told that don’t require splitting the book into multiple stories. The fact that Peter Jackson had to add so much filler makes the “cash grab” painfully obvious. At the very least, some elements of this movie are entertaining. It is worth seeing if you are a fan of the last movie-as it a lot more entertaining. I would just recommend catching it as a matinee or waiting until the entire trilogy comes out and getting to see it altogether.