*½/**** Image A Sound A Extra B
starring Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom
screenplay by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
directed by Peter Jackson
by Angelo Muredda And so arrives Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (hereafter Hobbit 2), landing at its appointed hour a year after its predecessor's mixed debut like a job application received after the position has already been quietly filled. While middle entries in trilogies are always awkward stepchildren, Hobbit 2 is a very special problem case: It consists of roughly the midsection of J.R.R. Tolkien's fleet fantasy book for children, cracked open and fattened with multi-coloured Post-it notes until the spine can bear no more. Here at last, then, we have the week-old meat of the only Hobbit adaptation Jackson could deliver, having spent a decade steering comically overextended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a 3-hour version of King Kong, and a wrongheaded interpretation of The Lovely Bones as a Nintendo-ready CG light show.