“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

Bobby Shipman

Visually-triumphant and vivacious, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” incinerated fan skepticism brought on by its predecessor’s folly.

The second installment in the high-fantasy trilogy based on The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Desolation of Smaug,” directed by Peter Jackson, rejoins Bilbo, Gandalf and a gang of dwarves as they travel toward The Lonely Mountain to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.

Peril, heroism and tomfoolery broil throughout as their quirky band evades a band of orcs, slays a cluster of oversized arachnids and escapes the clutches of woodland elves.

Many fans of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy were disappointed when “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” schlepped audiences through extended scenes of sluggish banter leading, ironically, to a brief climactic conclusion.

The sequel not only revitalized viewer’s hopes but delivered the most jaw-dropping dragon sequence of all time.

Bilbo comes face-to-face with Smaug, a dastardly dragon who laid dormant in Erebor after invading the kingdom for its mass riches.

In the heart of the Lonely Mountain Smaug relentlessly pursues Bilbo and the dwarves in an action packed seen of terror and trickery.

Although pulse-pounding and inventive, “The Desolation of Smaug” errs to the side of dull during its brief but uninspiring “romantic” scenes.

Peter Jackson’s film-adaptation introduces Tauriel, a woodland elf played by Evangeline Lilly (ABC’s “Lost”).

Tauriel’s “love-triangle” with Legolas, who she is forbidden from pursuing by the king’s orders, and Kiri, a dwarf companion of Bilbo, made adequate filler at best.

Although likeable, her scenes lost my attention several times with lackluster dialogue; perhaps because she is not a J.R.R. Tolkien “original.”

Cheesy writing aside, Tauriel shone radiantly in action and made for a deserving fit into the adapted vision of Peter Jackson.

A grand addition to the world of fantasy, “The Desolation of Smaug” is a rambunctious and riveting; stylish and scary; and a must-see!