The Desolation of Smaug was a highly enjoyable film, assuming you check your copy of the Hobbit at the door. Much of the key elements of the book were downplayed in favor of new plots and subplots that were totally of Jacksons’ own creation. In many ways this worked well, as that it became a bit more of an adult movie rather than a children’s book.
Thorin in particular came off well in the changes, become more of a tragic hero than the arrogant headstrong character of the Hobbit. Indeed, in some ways he was far more central to the plot of the movie than Bilbo was (perhaps it should have been called the Dwarf instead of the Hobbit). Armitage played him brilliantly and the added scenes with Smaug really turned the dwarves into heroic characters rather than they seemed in the book.
The elf-based subplots also worked very well, even the somewhat unusual love triangle that appears. Of course, none of this existed in the books at all. Nor did any of the Gandalf storylines… though they were at least alluded to… well most of them. The eye to eye confrontation that occurs most certainly is not in the book.
As for the movie making – see it in IMAX 3D. Really. The frame rate issue shown on a normal screen will be even more than it was in the last film… but plays well in IMAX…
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