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on 2 April 2014
What can I say? I loved the original book and absorbed the pages as a child. Even having the wonderful audio cassette version that I could listen to under the covers imaging the Goblins were above us as I listened to Gollum and Bilbo swapping riddles in the echoing darkness. IF you are a true fan (i.e. who read the works before a film was ever considered...and think they were just perfect) then you will feel my pain. Also feel free to apply this review to The Hobbit - An Unexpected letdown.

OK...So I would also like to state for the record, LOTR was great...PJ did a great job. It was grand and sweeping as it should have been. The Films echoed that great tale pretty well and I felt justice was completely done.

Now...The Hobbit 'should' have been a slightly different animal...and by 'slight' I mean Very. Even today the book of 'The Hobbit' feels more like the fantasy version of 'Hearts of Darkness' sure I was not expecting the film to hit the grimmer/spookier notes in their entirety but certainly I was expecting Bilbo to go through his own version of Apocalypse now. A journey that begins so light hearted and full of promise and ends after such trials and tribulations.
I was expecting someone...somewhere...to be saying "OK The franchise already has more money than it can ever spend so lets do it right!" But no...I recognise the notes, the tones and the flavours that are the work of Tolkien but it seems devoid of spirit like comparing a frozen microwave meal to something cooked by your mother. Substance and feeling have given way to overly flamboyant CGI and endless panning shots of people running. The ebb and flow of the narrative is now broken by filler my dear friends....filler beyond filler beyond filler! What else can we do to pad out this narrative? add extra characters? bring characters back? throw titbits to the fans? make mountains fight (in CGI with people running of course) lets totally take away the humble roots of this tale that once finished gives us LOTR and what are we left with? A cartoonish film that just looks like a live action version of World of War craft with slightly better graphics.

I think they looked at LOTR and tried to remake Hobbit exactly the same...when it is a completely different creature. I think some utter, greedy ******** have obviously punched the numbers and not really cared how fragmented and torn up the original work became. I think they relied on the fanaticism of the neo rings fans who will lap up anything you put in front of them as long as it has some Elvish writing and braided dwarf in the shot (I suspect some of you are already quivering with rage that I have dared to express a differing opinion...I guess I shall hear from you soon?) I think PJ deserves be haunted by Tolkien's ghost for ruining each and every chapter from that wonderful story (It took one berk to destroy them all)...No wonder the author was sceptical about his material being used for film. I hope he forgives us from the grave.

Its a sad trait of our times in the film industry with their insatiable lust for riches that will destroy any material to get it.......they are so blinded by this greed they do not realise that the work alone already contains the magic. If you (dear reader) in your heart think this is a 'great' film then you are surely saying that Tolkien did not write a story that was interesting enough for you as it was?

I am sorry for the butt-hurt this review might cause and the one star. But I believe a great work of fiction, akin to a work of art, has been chopped apart, chewed up and spat out in the name of cheap thrills and commercial gain........1 star, in my humble opinion, is one too many.
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VINE VOICEon 19 December 2013
I'd been thinking of giving this post a play-on-wordsy subtitle like "The desperation of Smug", or something like that, but that I realised that
a) It wouldn't be funny, and
b) It didn't actually mean anything.
So I didn't.

Anyway. When the first of the Hobbit films came out last year I rather enjoyed it. Yeah, it wasn't as good as the Lord of the Rings films, where Peter Jackson had things like a limited budget and an external producer to keep a lid on his excesses, but so long as I took it as being "Inspired by" the book rather than "Based on" I actually got rather a lot out of it and I went into this film with the same frame of mind expecting more of the same.

We open with a flashback as Gandalf meets Thorin for the first time in the Prancing Pony in Bree and discuss needing a burglar to gain the Arkenstone and unite the Dwarven people, before lurching back to the present and an exciting chase sequence as our heroes flee a pursuing gang of orcs to Beorn's steading. It's all very exciting; lots of sweeping long shots, running, shouting, orcs, pounding drums etc, and you'd better get used to that right now as you're going to be sitting through a heck of a lot of that for the next two and a half hours. In fact, at any point for the rest of the film when you think things might be about to slow down it's Orcs! Shouting! Running! Drums!
One of the things which made the Lord of the Rings films a pleasure to watch was that they occasionally took a step back from the orcs, shouting, drums and running so, ooh, I don't know, the characters could maybe have a conversation which lasted more than ten seconds and wasn't drowned out by pounding drums, or you'd get a pause as the camera swept over the contryside to a sweeping orchestral score and subliminal messages reading "Visit New Zealand" flashed up on screen. In The Desolation of Smaug even minor, quiet conversations are punctuated by pounding, portentous Moria-like Drums! and any sweeping shots of the countryside will include several dozen Orcs! galloping across it with, you guessed it, more dramatic Drums!. I hope the drummer got a bonus.

All the confident film-making in the Lord of the Rings where Peter Jackson appeared content at times to step back and have quiet moments for the story to breathe are missing here. Instead, the pace never lets up; despite the film being two and a half hours long it's non-stop and that appears largely because a lot of stuff which wasn't in Tolkien's original has been shoehorned in. And much of it really, really doesn't need to be there.
Perhaps the most interesting of the additions is Gandalf investigating the return of Sauron at Dol Guldur, which has the twin advantages of being nicely designed and Ian McKellern doing that acting thing he does. Less interestingly we have an entire elf/dwarf subplot featuring Orlando Bloom looking like he could have done with going for a jog and doing a few situps before squeezing back into Legolas' straining robes, and Evangeline Lily as Tauriel, a new lady-elf character who has a peculiar love triangle thing with Legolas and Kili and whose only real purpose in the narrative is to give other people someone to tell their motivations to before dying horribly in the battle at the end of the next film*.

What's perhaps worse than these additions are the entirely unnecessary alterations to the story. The Barrel-escape from the elf-king's halls, in the book a sneaky operation, becomes here an extended Orcs! Drums! Running! Shouting! chase sequence. I actually couldn't think why a tense Escape From Colditz-like scene featuring Elves instead of Nazis might not have worked instead, but Jackson clearly felt the film needed more Orcs! Drums! Running! and Shouting! because they're key to Tolkien's vision. Either that or the sheer weight of expectation (and money) on his shoulders means he's lost the confidence to do anything else.
Other stuff has been changed too; Bombur falling asleep in Mirkwood is removed, the discovery of the secret door at the Lonely Mountain scene is changed for no reason whatsoever except to create some false drama, and perhaps most surprisingly Smaug the dragon no longer has jeweled mail from lying on his hoard solely in order to give Bard the Bowman an unnecessary bit of backstory.

There are some bits to like but they are few and far between. For example I rather liked Thranduil the elf-king and his reminiscences of fighting another dragon, Glaurung, at Nargothrond, but the stand-out scene is, as in the first film, a two-hander with Bilbo and a major villain - in this instance Smaug.
The conversation with Smaug is really enjoyable. A sequence of pure acting and confident direction with none of the usual Drums! Orcs! Running! Shouting! bits which serve as interludes to the rest of the film. Smaug is fantastically realised and the halls of the mountain king he dwells in are one of the best bits of the film**. Unfortunately it doesn't last. In no time at all we're into the closing action scenes - neither from the book - featuring an Orcs! Drums! Running! Shouting! fight in Laketown with Legolas and Tauriel and a stunningly ropy CGI horse***, whilst meanwhile the dwarfs run around the interior of the Lonely Mountain trying to restart the old furnaces so they can forge what appears to be a gigantic Lindt Chocolate Santa.
Seriously. I have no clue whatsoever what was going on there. Pursued by Dragon? Light ancient furnaces and cast a huge festive novelty confection. It's the only response that makes sense.

Like many people, I occasionally fantasise about owning a time machine. It'd be great. I'd be loaded in very short order and I could send robots back in time to kill Gordon Brown's parents. But one other thing I'd do would be to go back and show artists what became of their work after their death. HP Lovecraft, for example, died thinking he was a failure and his work would be forgotten and I'd like to show him my anthology of his work where Stephen King's introduction describes him as the most influential horror writer of the 20th century.
Likewise, Tolkien believed Lord of the Rings was unfilmable and I'd like to show him the films that were made as I think he'd love them. And then, at the end, he'd turn to me and ask "And did they ever film The Hobbit?". And I'd look him in the eye, shake my head gravely, and say "No. No they didn't."
It'd be a kindness to the poor man.

Two stars.

*I bet you ten pounds this happens.
** Smaug's hoard is immense; quite clearly it contains more gold than there is in the entire real world and the dwarfs were apocalyptically wealthy so it's no wonder the local economy collapsed when they stopped spending. During the exciting Orcs! Shouting! Running! Drums! final sequence of the film I found myself idly thinking that when the dwarfs re-took the mountain they should stop spending gold and instead begin issuing promissory notes against their wealth, and let's face it when that's more interesting than Orcs! and Drums! you know you've lost your audience.
***I'm not kidding. The shot looked unfinished.
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on 14 December 2013
After crossing over the Misty Mountains, Thorin must seek help from a powerful stranger before taking on the dangers of an illusioned filled forest.

If they reach Lake-town it will be time Bilbo Baggins to fulfil his contract with the dwarfs. The party must complete the journey to Lonely Mountain and Baggins must seek out the Secret Door.

A door that will give them access to the hoard of the dragon Smaug....

After reassessing the first movie, which to be honest was a bit of a slog to get through, my expectations were not very high for this second instalment. I was looking forward to it, but this trilogy didn't really have the event feel that LOTR had..... Until now.

After a very slow opening, with a flashback, it soon goes back to what Jackson does best, event set pieces of the highest order. As soon as the group go into the forest, that's it, the film is rip roaring fun right up until the final haunting scene.

The film then is wrapped around three very impressive, and huge set pieces. The first in the forest with the spiders and meeting old friends,the second is a wonderful barrel chase, involving Orcs and Elves, and the final piece, which rivals anything from the original trilogy, when we meet Smaug.

This is stunning stuff, and Freeman excels in this part, one reason is because he's not really focused on until this part, and his fear makes his meeting with Smaug all the more urgent.

And what a creation Smaug is, as soon as he unveils himself from under millions of coins, you know instantly he will be right up there with Gollum, The T-Rex, and The T-1000, as the best CGI creations ever committed to screen.

Gandalf has his own little side story, which is very sinister, but not touched on too much, which will probably be the focus of the next film.

My only problem is that it doesn't have a lot of urgency to it, because you know a few characters that get in peril will be fine, because of LOTR.

Its a return to form from Jackson, and it has the best cliffhanger from any Jackson movie.

Well worth seeing.
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on 6 October 2014
It's ok, if you like big action movies. But emotionally unsatisfying. It's beautifully filmed, the score is lovely. The acting is ok. And yet there are serious problems with this movie. It's not that easy to put my finger on what they are, but I'll have a go.

I don't mind if plot details are changed from the book. A lot is changed. That's ok. It doesn't have to be the book in film. So yes, Jackson is going to put in a romance story. Can't be helped, ok I'll wear that. However, it's worth noticing what effect plot innovations have. Do they help? Is more gained or lost? This is where I think the problem lies.

There's such a lack of mystery. Where characters were fascinating and mysterious in the book, Jackson has the impulse to reveal everything about everyone. We get to hear everyone baring their soul, everyone engage in mundane conversation. Take Beorn for example. By having him tell his backstory to these strangers, he suddenly becomes - ordinary. Even the dragon loses his mojo by talking too much.

The mysterious woodland lights that lead the party off the path in Mirkwood - missing in the film. It's one of the most memorable and emotionally charged parts of the story. In fact Mirkwood in general is lacking in mystery and fear. The mysterious black stream that brings sleep - gone.

Gandalf himself was an enigma in the book. Not here: we get the inside story. He too is stripped of any mystery. In fact part of the charm of the book was its simple, linear story. We pass through interesting places and touch on issues little understood, such as the Necromancer. But they never become the story,we just keep going with the dwarves. The wider world is mysterious and fascinating because it is just barely glimpsed. Jackson constantly fills in all the side information, adds in whole plot lines from LotR to create something much more complex and explained. Subtlety is not Jackson's strong suit. Sometimes things are more interesting if you don't put them under the spotlight for close examination.

Then the lightness and humour of the book is hardly in view here. So much is dark, serious and heavy. All the funny scenes are missing. When Bilbo runs off from home without his pocket handkerchief, its a funny, exciting scene in the book. Not in the film - the music is dark and grim. The introductions to Beorn, one by one. Gone. The argument Gandalf foments between the trolls - gone. Bilbo's taunts to the spiders - gone. All this humour is excised. Jackson is not keen on humour it seems. The result is that instead of the story gradually shifting from light to dark, as in the book, here it's unvaried, dark all the way, and frankly becomes a bit wearisome.

The dragon was wonderfully created. However I thought having the dwarves choose to go in and take him on was just silly. The dragon is supposed to be utterly, paralysingly terrifying. By the end of the dwarves vs dragon fight scene, we don't feel even scared about him any more. He's no match for a handful of dwarves apparently!

Cheap heroics seem to take the place of real feeling and atmosphere again and again. It feels like pretty generic Hollywood fantasy action stuff. Oh, another extended group fight against orcs. Yawn.

Bilbo's gradual transformation into a hero takes patience and discipline to pull off. It means he has to seem a bit useless earlier on. He can only come good gradually. And this is core to the story. But Jackson can't tolerate this. So Bilbo has to be a hero from the first film. Outsmarting trolls, fighting orcs, etc. No room for a transformation!

I found it disappointing that Thorin didn't look like a dwarf.

All the orc fights before they reach the mountain have to be totally one sided, because all the dwarves have to live. So the orcs are laughably easy to knock over. The dwarves and Bilbo sail through swarms of them untouched. Orcs die left right and centre. The orcs come out as pretty pathetic.

The desolation was a bit lacking. The whole territory was sposed to be scorched and barren from the dragon. Actually it looked pretty nice in the film. Good place for a hiking trip! Pity really, given the film is CALLED the desolation of Smaug!

I could go on, but overall my feeling was, this is a film made by people who didn't love the story. The Hobbit story. They often didn't seem to notice what they were losing when they changed the plot. It seemed they didn't value it much in the first place. And so much was lost. For this viewer, the losses far outweighed the gains.
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on 16 December 2013
so here we have it, the habbit the desolation of my sanity. more long-winded dragon slaying, painstakingly boring quests, walking, walking and more walking and homoerotic scenes between bilbo and ian mckellon and then some more walking. the lard of the wings being the most boring franchise in existence, this takes the biscuit. i like martin freeman in the office and even that drab hitchhikers guide to the galaxy reboot. but 3 hour films about walking and quests? sorry pete matey but this formula has been tired since 2001. i was so board i decided to wing my uncle joe about when the plumber is scheduled, he confornted me in a rather malcious tone as he had just started watching dick tracy on vhs,, i apologised but did not hang up as i was just usingt he plumber convo as small talk to talk to brother who is two years my senior about if he wanted a meatball baguette but he was currenly unavailble at the time as he was watching trisha goddard recordings on his iphone. what a plonka!!

anywho, peter jackson just makes the same old boring films set in new zealaious or australia, same thing really. because thats where hes from. im from london u dont see me making films about boring landmarks and ugly tourist attractions to appeal to the majority of the geneal public do you?? watch his nonhollywood films like bad taste and braindead. that way ull have a good time.

if u did like any of these boring films u know the drill. prepare to buy this film a dozen or so more times when warner bothers treats us like chumps and release the standard cut then an extened cut then a 3D extended cut then a 3d extended cut steelbook with no bonus features then a ultimate edition steelbook with all the bonus features but no 3d version and finally a 3d extended cut steelbook with all the 40 hour long bonus features charging u £10 for a few paper artcards stills printed from google images.

my advise watch that new film with christian bail and jennifrer larence, save your hard earned money that way at least ull get a raging harden for something normal.
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on 13 March 2014
Ok I won't deny this: If it was a film in it's own right then D.O.S would be amazing. As an adaptation of one of the greatest books of our time it's fairly poor. It's a shame really because I loved this first film, it had the spirit of Tolkien and a few minor changes that were accepted after one good rant. This film has very little reference to the book we all know and love- so I can't deny being rather offended at seeing a relic of my childhood turned into an action movie.

But I most likely will buy the extended version with hopes that there will be more Beorn and Mirkwood, scenes that should have been in the theatrical release. I will not however be paying anymore money for Jackson's fan-fiction!
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Was Peter Jackson bullied at school by this book that he hates it so much? On the other hand, it’s hard to believe anyone associated with this travesty has read the book, even to the point of reading its Wikipedia entry.

I suppose if you want a children’s movie at the level of Disney’s dire adaptation of Prince Caspian, you might find this faintly acceptable.

On the other hand, if you’ve given up hoping that this will be a film of one of your favourite books, well, it looks pretty, but some of the CGI is so blatant and unconvincing-and occasionally just rubbish- that the cinema must have been rustling with giggles from anyone over six; the effects are mostly better than the 1930s version of King Kong, but with the obvious superimpositions, they look to have employed the same techniques. And if it’s this unconvincing on a small screen, how bad must it have been at the cinema? Unless of course it was “made for 3D”, so those lovely layers like an autostereogram take your mind off what you’re watching.

Thorin remains a selfish and ignorant failure embittered by the refusal of the rest of the world to die just for him, but on the other hand, the stroppy tight-fisted Scottish dwarves continue to give some amusement, though it’s surprising there haven’t been protests on the grounds of racial stereotyping.

Despite stretching the book to a series of movies that takes longer to watch than to read, many of the better parts of the book barely feature, yet the new material is largely risible. The eagles are absent, and one of the great characters of the book, Beorn, is distorted inasmuch as he’s not ignored altogether, and in “human” form, looks just laughable. Laughable too is the reappearance of the woeful Radagast, who, while I like Sylvester McCoy enormously, continues to pull this movie down to one for the under-fives only, or whoever else watches Teletubbies. The great drama of the journey through Mirkwood has disappeared, the battle with the spiders an illogical aside, the escape from the Elves tedious rather than exciting. Laketown belongs not in a heroic fantasy, but in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. The supposedly calamitous Smaug is so inept at killing Dwarves, despite unlimited chances in the laughable scenes under the mountain, that he looks as effective as Star Wars Stormtroopers, and could never have conquered Erebor.

Is it actually worse than the first instalment? Perhaps, though it’s hard to be sure; the first was such a foul corruption of the book that the shock alone was enough to be painful. Here, well, you knew what to expect from the first part, so it wasn’t a shock, but it’s still unequivocally crap, but in parts at least expensive and good looking crap.

No, the shock and disbelief of the contempt for the book and the audience aren’t quite as intense as with the first instalment, but at the end of the day, one star is plenty, two the absolute maximum. There will be plenty of fives from people who get less pain from this, and in a way I envy them: this movie is painful to watch for a lover of the book..
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on 26 December 2013
How can a product have a review when it is not yet released? Shouldn't people be reviewing the actual quality of an item not a film review?
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on 13 April 2014
I've been an avid fan of Tolkien's books for about 45 years now. I was apprehensive when I first heard that Peter Jackson was making a film trilogy of the Ring books, but on the whole my fears proved groundless and I think he did a very creditable job with them. So much so that I have all the Director's cut DVDs and they stand up well to repeated viewing. Then I heard he was doing the Hobbit...

Well many others have already made the point here and elsewhere that they had grave doubts about him spinning it out over three films, and I had the same doubts. Unlike LoTR however this time my fears have proved well grounded. I didn't really enjoy the first part. I found it unimaginatively scripted and directed with the dwarves being reduced to little more than a Disneyfied comic turn rather than being the weary, weather stained outcasts and nomads they were meant to be. Even Ian McKellan's turn as Gandalf lacked the necessary gravitas of the Ring films. The first instalment was only saved by Martin Freeman's excellent turn as Bilbo, plus of course Andy Serkis ending the film on a high note as Gollum.

But at least the meddling with the original story line was kept to a minimum and the padding out seemed less noticeable to me.

This second part however is a different matter. Great liberties have been taken with Tolkien's source material. A major character (Tauriel) has been introduced that didn't even exist in the book and appears to have been brought in simply to add a "love interest" story within a story. Legolas (who didn't appear in the book either) has been ridiculously pimped up to almost make him some kind of invincible superhero - so much so that it's hardly worth the Orcs turning up to the fight as they seemingly present no real threat whatsoever. They may be ugly great muscle bound snarling brutes with big pointy weapons, but they're apparently incapable of inflicting any real damage. They're just so much elf-fodder. "Sire, there's an army of five hundred heavily armed Orcs at the gate!", "Oh well, just send Legolas out, he'll soon see them off"

The nature of many of the main encounters in the book have also been altered to an extent that that the story itself is changed. There have been so many changes in fact that I think the credits should have actually said "loosely" based on The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien!

That in itself is probably the worst crime as far as Tolkien fans are concerned, but other fans in general have cause for complaint over the shameless padding out. This instalment feels far more bloated than the first and really shows that Jackson could easily have done a single three hour film, or at most two films. A trilogy was just being greedy - shameless commercialism. The interminable fight scenes between Super Legolas, the Mighty Tauriel and a bunch of CGI Orcs or extras in Orc suits are totally unnecessary and add nothing of value to the film whatsoever. They're just there to stretch out the thin storyline so they can get (paying) bums on seats for the third instalment next Christmas (and God knows what further liberties we'll see in that one).

The high points for me - (1) most (apart from the Legolas vs Orcs invented scene) of the Lake Town scenes. Bard is well played, and Stephen Fry turns in a good performance. The hope amongst the people for a return of the good times and how this makes them disregard the obvious threat is well conveyed. (2) Bilbo's conversation with Smaug. Could have done with more of this and less of the derivative Indiana Jones style running battle between Smaug and the dwarves, which also didn't happen in the book.

The low points - the rest of the film I'm afraid
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on 16 December 2013

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*** Contains Spoilers ***

Rossini is supposed to have said of Wagner that he had some wonderful moments, but dreadful quarter-hours. You might say the same thing of Peter Jackson: there is something Bayreuthian about the excess of everything in his Hobbit saga. Still, he seems to have retained the confidence of the reviewing community: I wonder whether it will last another instalment.

In the months before Ray Harryhausen's recent passing, giants of cinema from James Cameron to Nick Park, including Peter Jackson, queued to salute the stop-motion king. It was Harryhausen who fired the imaginations of these young auteurs as they watched raging plasticene dinosaurs and rickety skeleton warriors duke it out with Sinbad, Jason, Raquel Welch and others across countless corny fantasies of a bygone era.

Harryhausen was a matinee genius but the films he worked on were technological rather than cinematic achievements. (Sample quote, from Seventh Voyage of Sinbad: "Classic Harryhausen. May not be heavy on plot, but who cares?")

George Lucas, another devotee, never pretended his Star Wars franchise was anything other than straight-up homage to the comic book serials of his youth. But Peter Jackson, for all his deference, is supposed to have aspired to greater things. With the second instalment of his interminable Hobbit saga we now know this not to be the case: it is pure, cornball Harryhausen for the 21st century, Pentium processors replacing plastic stegosauruses but every bit as cheesy and, in the leaden sequences between cave-girl-fancying monster tortoises, just as tedious as anything from One Million Years B.C.

No doubt bored of reverend Tolkien scholarship, Jackson has started making stuff up. He has oriented all the drama around what his inner Harryhausen likes best: scowling orcs, growling wargs, rutting beasts, fruity elves and improbable hand-to-hand combat between the lot of them.

As far as Tolkien was concerned there were hardly any orcs, no Sauron, few Elves and no Legolas in the Hobbit. However pleasing Evangeline Lilly's elven features may be, Tauriel doesn't feature in the appendices at all, and she certainly didn't flirt with any dwarves. Why Jackson felt the need to insert dreadful quarter-hours of these creatures hacking each other to bits is difficult to fathom. There are some inventive kills, but none of the action bears at all on the plot. But at least the orcs and fairies do dispose of one other: no-one can lay a finger on the dwarves, and good old Dildo lives a charmed life throughout.

Countless other secondary characters buzz the screenplay like so many horseflies. They too could also have used a morgul blade to the chops: Stephen Fry's walk-on is surplus to requirements, as is Legolas', and a shape-shifting bear man, some well-rendered but time-wasting spiders, a new orc 2.I.C. and the rabbit-wizard from the first instalment (this time minus his bunny sled) do nothing but slow the progress of our dogged little dwarves.

Finally they do reach their Lonely Mountain (sorry if this gives the game away) only to find a monologuing dragon who won't shut up for 45 minutes and who, while anticipating their every move, somehow cannot so much as singe a ginger beard. He lies on a treasure pile so large that he could, were he properly advised, defeat the dwarves, Shire People, Lake People, Orcs, Elves, Rohirrin and probably even Sauron himself simply by dumping his hoard of currency outside the mountain. There's not a dark force on Earth to rival the awesome power of hyperinflation.

Meantime we wonder whether we haven't been sold the most outrageous pup. The result of our three hours' toil is a series of scoreless draws: Dragon versus Dwarves; Orcs versus Elves; Elves versus Dwarves; Lake People versus Dwarves; Dwarves versus Dragon; Dragon versus Hobbit; Boatman versus Lake People; Dragon versus Boatman; Necromancer versus Wizard; and Bear-shape-shifter against himself. Jackson apologists will say it is all yet to kick off but, by gum, we shouldn't have had to wait this long for some resolution. Nine hours is not three but SIX standard-length feature films.

One ruthlessly edited feature film ought to have done the job, even if it meant Orlando Bloom and Stephen Fry missing a trip to the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Tchaikovsky said of Gotterdammerung that, after its last notes rang, he felt as though he had been let out of prison. As the feeling seeps back into your buttocks and you join the snaking queue for the loo at your local theatre, you may well know how he felt.

Olly Buxton
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