Bilbo turns tougher and more cunning and “The Hobbit” turns altogether more entertaining in “The Desolation of Smaug,” Peter Jackson’s livelier, funnier and action-packed middle film in his trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s slight delight of a novel.
It looks more like a fantasy — fantastical, with more murk and the otherworldly light of those mass-produced Thomas Kinkade paintings. Characters feel more distinct, with Martin Freeman’s Bilbo making the transition from mere passenger on this dwarf’s quest “beneath the Lonely Mountain” to the brains of the motley crew.
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