I have a confession to make at the start of this review, I liked the original Lord of The Rings trilogy, but didn’t love it. I thought they dragged a bit too much at times, and then after Clerks II, I couldn’t get the joke about them being three films of people walking, out of my head. When it was announced that Peter Jackson was going back to Middle Earth to tackle The Hobbit, I had little interest and especially when it was going be three films.  As a film fan, one thing did draw my interest though, it wasn’t the story but the actually technology, specifically the 48 fps (high frame rate) presentation. There was a lot of talk of it being the future and I thought I would check it out, so off I headed to watch, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. A strange thing happened while I was watching it, as well as liking the smooth 48 frames, I really liked the film. I found it good fun and a lot lighter in tone that the LOTR films so I now approached part two actually looking forward to it.

We catch up with the dwarves as they continue with their quest to return to their home land of Erebor and reclaim it from the dragon Smaug who has made their gold supplies his home. Bilbo has his little secret in his pocket and started to use it, not realising its dangerous side effects. Gandalf is starting to realise that something dark is brewing in middle earth that will have a long lasting effect on the land. The first film was an unexpected journey, part two is an exciting and thrilling trip through the dark and light of Middle Earth.

Many of the criticisms of the first film were that there was far too much time where nothing was really happening and that too much of Dwarfs eating. This film will definitely not be accused of being boring. As the dwarves and Bilbo continue on their journey they have seem to go from one set piece to another. They go from being chased by giant bears to a run in with giant spiders in the Mirkwood, to escaping from the Elves in barrels down the river.

Some of these set pieces are amazing visual feasts and it’s here that the 48fps really shows it’s benefit. The spider sequence is genuinely scary, as these giant spider run towards you in 3D but also so smoothly they look real.  The barrels sequence which is probably the highlight of the film is non stop and in the case of Bombur’s alternative route, is also very funny.  There are also scenes that lock it into the Lord of The Rings story as well, especially one with Gandalf’s trip to the castle of Dol Guldur, where he meets a familiar foe.

It’s not a spoiler to say that they reach Erebor, (it’s in the trailer) where Martin Freeman meets up with his Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch as the eponymous dragon Smaug. As we come to expect from the director who brought us the amazing visual of Gollum, Smaug is stunning, we only got fleeting glances of him in part one, but here we see him in all his glory, add to that Cumberbatch’s vocal tones and we have a great antagonist.

For me the star of the film is still Martin Freeman, his performances so far as Bilbo have been impressive, he has helped the character to grow from the worrier who has never left the Shire to a full on hero, proving his worth to the doubting Thorin who saw him as an inconvenience. As the ring starts to take it’s hold on him, Freeman gets better and better showing the doubt in the character as he knows that this amazing tool isn’t all it seems.

I also thought that Evangeline Lily was pretty good as the completely made up for the film character, Tauriel, who at first it seems is just there as a love interest with the dwarf Kili, but as the film continues she shows she pretty good with a bow.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, probably a bit more than the first one. It’s a fun romp that never gets boring and has some amazing visuals and set pieces. It does end on an annoying cliffhanger, annoying in that we have to wait till next December to see how it ends.  If you can check it out in 48fps, some people love it some hate it, but for me it enhanced the experience.