Yes, it’s epic; yes, it’s full of big names; yes, it’s beautifully realised with endless imagination and an astonishing eye for detail, etc, etc, etc.
But the trouble is that The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug is also at times quite bum-numbingly boring.
If you are a fan of the world of the Hobbit, you’ll doubtless lap up every nuance; if you’re not, this isn’t the film to convert you, for all that the final half an hour is terrific viewing.
The problem is the two hours that get you there, two hours which do little more than heap up the problems on the Hobbit’s quest to duff up a dragon and help the dwarves reclaim their homeland. You could wander off, do your Christmas shopping, have your Christmas party, and the Hobbit and his mates still won’t have got out of first gear.
This is classic second-film-of-a-trilogy territory. It doesn’t have much of a beginning; it really doesn’t have an ending; and not very much happens in between. Instead you watch a lot of strange people with silly names and even sillier hair-dos meandering towards their goal. None of it is helped by Ian McKellen turning up every now and again, spouting something stirring/incomprehensible before lapsing into gobbledygook and then disappearing.
Briefly, Stephen Fry injects a bit of life into proceedings, but otherwise, you start to fear that once they actually find Smaug the dragon, they are probably going to try to bore him out of his den.
Fortunately, it’s Smaug who finally turns up the heat in every sense in a rousing final sequence, but when the film, after the best part of three hours, finally finishes virtually mid-sentence, inevitably – unless you’re an aficionado – you’ll be wondering ‘So why did I bother with that then?’
Go see Frozen for all the wit and drive that The Hobbit is lacking. Much, much more fun!