The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ★★½

The middle bits of trilogies can be tricky things, and Jackson and co. seemed to make every wrong choice they could. It started abruptly in media res and then jumped around, so that I was completely disoriented from Jump St.

It seemed to right itself after a while, and delivered a coupla slick (if ridiculous) action sequences. But it kept introducing new characters like its life depended on it, and I cared about each character less than the one before it. By the end I was rooting for the orcs just because they seemed more interesting than the dwarves/hobbit. And the inclusion of the pointless populist political storyline was absurd.

That said, there was enough cool stuff to make it somewhat entertaining (the Bilbo/Smaug encounter was fun, if interminable), but there's really no excuse for a 160-minute runtime OR a complete lack of an ending. I know there's one more movie yet, but jeez, throw me some kind of bone. Even a second act needs some kind of conclusion, right?