Dwarves, Orcs and Elves all propel the action forward in “Hobbit 2” but it’s that amazing dragon that makes this lots easier to sit through than “Hobbit 1”.
“Here be dragons”? No, just the one. You will never have seen anything like this. Director Peter Jackson is the king of the big creatures.
At 161 minutes, it rarely flags and gigantic menacing spiders keep your attention, just when it all starts to feel a little slow.
Martin Freeman is Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit who has That Ring. Freeman is a wonderful Everyman (every Hobbit?) character who has just the right combination of wide-eyed fear and huge courage required by the part.
As the wizard Gandalf, Ian McKellen has authority and cool props.
Of the rest of the enormous cast, it’s worth singling out Evangeline Lilly (channeling Katniss in “The Hunger Games”), Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans and former Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy who all shine in key scenes.
And Stephen Fry brings in comic relief, just when you need it. Although he will remind you of a plumper Sheriff of Nottingham in any version of “Robin Hood”.
There is lots that feels derived from other movies and that’s helpful and familiar as well as keeping you attentive to the complex plot, which twists and turns.
Music and scenery are in keeping with the moody feel of “old legend” and you really should see this in 3D to get the most of the butterflies, bees, spiders and Smaug.
That Ring is filmed as if it’s in a very expensive jewellery advertisement.
When did all the staircases in movies become a Harry Potter version of Christopher Escher’s work?
It’s a great big epic that grabbed the attention of the whole Stratford East Picturehouse audience. The ending feels a tad abrupt, but that’s to prime the viewer for the sequel, due next Christmas.
New Zealand will welcome many new tourists given how lovely it looks here. One word of caution: very young children will be frightened. The few 12-13-year-olds looked terrified as the film ended and needed to be consoled by their parents.