Directed by Peter Jackson
The second installment in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy greatly improves upon the first, said Richard Corliss in Time. A “vigorous, thrilling” action picture, it turns up the dial on character and sly humor while “nearly matching the grandeur” of Jackson’s own Lord of the Rings films. As in the J.R.R. Tolkien novel it dramatizes, a group of dwarves intent on besting the dragon Smaug have brought, at the urging of the wizard Gandalf, the hobbit Bilbo along on their dangerous quest. This time, the action unfolds “at a tremendous gallop,” said Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian (U.K.). In the dwarves’ battle with giant spiders or their escape down a rushing river, Jackson proves again “that he is an expert in big-league, popular moviemaking to rival Spielberg.” Unfortunately, the director “has a hard time knowing when enough is enough,” said Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter. Though bloat creeps in, all is not lost: Jackson recovers in time to deliver “a true cliff-hanger”—one that guarantees fans will be lining up again next December for the trilogy’s finale.