The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug 2013

Critics score:
74 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine: The Desolation of Smaug satisfies both as a Saturday-matinee serial and as a tempting fanfare for the climactic There and Back Again, due next December. Read more

Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture: Everything is better this time around, but you still can't help but notice all the filler, the clumsy exposition, and graceless myth-making. Read more

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: A space-holding, empty-headed epic filled with characters and places (digital and otherwise) that are hard to keep straight, much less care about. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: The latest lap of their journey is far more focused and much more exciting than the last one. Read more

Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times: The moviemakers create a world that you just want to jump in to, even if it means facing down the King of the Orcs. Read more

Justin Chang, Variety: After a bumpy beginning with 'An Unexpected Journey,' Peter Jackson's 'Hobbit' trilogy finds its footing in this much more exciting and purposeful second chapter. Read more

A.A. Dowd, AV Club: There's nothing like a fire-breathing dragon to inject some heat back into a franchise gone lukewarm. Read more

Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic: For many, Jackson's "Hobbit" will look like an overly long amusement-park attraction. But for fantasy fans who have dreamed all their lives of spending time inside Tolkien's dazzling alternative reality, it's a ride well worth taking. Read more

Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press: Onward to the third installment. Jackson is back on track. Read more

Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader: The chaotic action, amped-up sound effects, and needlessly intricate CGI landscapes (which are less convincing than traditional sets or even the hand-drawn backdrops of Disney classics) wore me out well before the movie was over. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: It's livelier and better than its predecessor. The first movie's harrumphing throat-clearing has given way to a swift, imposing adventure boasting several wing-ding action sequences. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: 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. Read more

Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News: Peter Jackson, take a fire-breathing bow. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: For the casual but compelled moviegoer, The Desolation of Smaug is a fine improvement over the first offering. Tolkien aficionados may feel otherwise. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: This film could lose an hour and be much better for the cutting. But then again, it never really needed to be made in the first place. Read more

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: Jackson's direction is spiky and majestic ... Read more

Eric D. Snider, Film.com: Somewhat better than last year's meandering dud - a slight improvement on a movie that should have been pretty easy to improve upon. Read more

Wesley Morris, Grantland: Desolation of Smaug looks as dreary as the title would lead you to believe. The whole thing lingers in the memory as piles of sludge and ash. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter: Nearly everything about The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug represents an improvement over the first installment of Peter Jackson's three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved creation. Read more

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times: Peter Jackson's newest installment of the Tolkien trilogy is set afire by the scorching roar of a dragon. Read more

Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News: Even though "Smaug" clocks in at a seat-squirming length -- more than 2 1/2 hours -- it rarely feels padded. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: A bloated, dawdling and distended adventure that throws in so many extraneous characters and subplots, the eponymous hero - Bilbo Baggins - is edged off the screen for large chunks of time. Read more

Rafer Guzman, Newsday: Romance may not be what fans of this fantasy franchise want, but it's a blessing for the rest of us. In a movie driven mostly by kabillion-dollar special effects, it's nice to feel a human emotion. Read more

Bruce Diones, New Yorker: The tale has no emotional resonance, and the thinness of the plot (only five of the book's chapters are adapted here) and the colorless depictions of the leading characters do it no favors. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: Our heroes trudge on a bit, have a furious fight, escape. They trudge on some more, have an even more furious fight, and escape again. It just feels overstuffed, like some dwarfish banquet, course after course after course without any clear end. Read more

Ian Buckwalter, NPR: It often feels like the movie's title character is marginalized in his own story. Read more

Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News: If you liked "An Unexpected Journey" last year, you'll like "The Desolation of Smaug" because, really, it's more of the same. Read more

Manohla Dargis, New York Times: A relentless adventure tale, teaming with rowdy action, slavering enemies and Elven gymnastics. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: The Desolation of Smaug is not only eight minutes shorter than its forebear, it's at least eight minutes better - less twee, less chatty, more action, more Elvish. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: It's epic fantasy for those who thinks the term means monsters, chases, fights, and little else. Read more

Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.com: A wickedly entertaining, sometimes thrilling adventure. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: Director Peter Jackson performs the same kind of miracles with the digital Smaug that he did with Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Read more

Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com: Well, that's more like it! Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: Tolkien is barely there, and Middle-earth lies in ruins. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: "The Desolation of Smaug" is a rip-roaring wizards and lizards escapade that delivers a full quota of thrills while remaining true to the lighthearted spirit of the source material. Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: We were promised desolation, but "The Hobbit" just keeps dragon on. Read more

Christopher Orr, The Atlantic: Be forewarned: Whether through ego, avarice, or unchecked enthusiasm, Jackson has wandered deep into the realm of fan fiction. Read more

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail: With the introductions and bag-packing out of the way from the first film, the new movie jumps straight into the action and doesn't relent until the cliffhanger ending almost three hours later. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: Jackson's audacity and folly both come to the fore in this picture, which is much more than a placeholder but something less than a fully satisfying saga in its own right. Read more

Todd Gilchrist, TheWrap: Eschewing the kitchen-sink minutiae of the first installment, Peter Jackson creates a rousing, immersive sequel that offers the same sort of sweeping action - and emotional engagement - that helped the "Rings" films become a cultural phenomenon. Read more

Keith Uhlich, Time Out: Exhaustion has set in by the time Bilbo and his friends encounter Smaug around the two-hour mark, so it's a good thing that that's when Jackson goes full bore with the adrenalizing, digitally augmented braggadocio. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: Like its predecessor, it features way too much trudging through forests. Read more

Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice: Sure, all the studios offer anymore are big, dumb adventure spectacles, but that's not a knock against the achievement of this one, which at least parades wonders before us, not the least being the greatest dragon in the history of movies. Read more

Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post: Much of this has all the gluteus-clenching intensity of a good video game, but there's also a thematic subtext here - as there was in the "LOTR" films - of good vs. evil and honor vs. treachery. Read more