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Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Silvan Elves leading their captives, Thorin Oakenshield’s dwarves, in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second installment in The Hobbit Trilogy.

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★★★★✩

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Directed by Peter Jackson

Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, and Richard Armitage

Rated PG-13

Now playing

Tolkien fans have been eagerly awaiting the release part two of The Hobbit, and that day has finally come. The Desolation of Smaug was as exciting, funny, and adventurous as to be expected from a Tolkien universe brought to life by Peter Jackson. The main cast from the first movie returns so this movie is as full of great actors as before. Of course the scenery is breathtaking, featuring incredible spans of mountains and forests — just as magical as Tolkien describes in his series.

For those of you who are Legolas fans, you will be pleased to know that Orlando Bloom does get quite a bit of screen time. He leads some pretty epic and strangely hilarious battle and fight sequences. We get to see a bit of the forest elves and we learn even more about the dwarves. The film includes references to The Lord of the Rings future story and we get to watch as Middle Earth approaches terrifying times with the rise of Sauron’s armies. The movie is packed with personality from the dwarves in the company and their humorous interactions.

While there were many amusing scenes, the movie was definitely suspenseful and action-packed. Bilbo and the dwarves are separated from Gandalf and must continue the journey alone. They quickly discover that overcoming the obstacles in their path is not so easy without the wizard. The company is in a rush to make it to the Misty Mountains before Durin’s Day so that they can find the Secret Door and reclaim their home. But finding the door is only their first problem, because what awaits them in the Mountain is the terrifying dragon Smaug. Benedict Cumberbatch makes a convincing Smaug, adding an eerie hiss to the dragon’s booming voice. As usual, all of the monsters are incredibly creepy and grotesque, ensuring that the protagonists will have their work cut out for them.

Will the dwarves and Bilbo escape the Mountains unscorched and intact? Start your year on an enjoyable note — get to the theaters as soon as possible to find out!