Metascore
66

Generally favorable reviews - based on 44 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 44
  2. Negative: 2 out of 44
  1. Reviewed by: Nick de Semlyen
    Dec 6, 2013
    100
    Middle-earth's got its mojo back. A huge improvement on the previous installment, this takes our adventurers into uncharted territory and delivers spectacle by the ton.
  2. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Dec 11, 2013
    91
    Bilbo, as played by Freeman, suggests a sly-dog Dana Carvey without irony, and he is certainly overmatched, but that doesn't mean he's outplayed. Desolation is now his business.
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Dec 9, 2013
    90
    Smaug is different: a really good movie, superior to the first in that it brings its characters to rambunctious life.
  4. Reviewed by: Sheila O'Malley
    Dec 13, 2013
    88
    The thematic elements are in place, the emotional tension is highly strung, and the action unfolds in a wave like the fire erupting from the dragon's mouth, overtaking all in its path.
  5. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Dec 13, 2013
    83
    Most middle movies in a trilogy simply mark time. Not this one.
  6. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Dec 12, 2013
    80
    This is a rip-snorting, barrel-riding adventure movie — perfect for all ages, as they say (though it isn’t for very young kids) — loaded with fast-paced fight scenes, great-looking effects and enjoyable and/or scurrilous supporting characters.
  7. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Dec 10, 2013
    80
    By the time the beast spreads his wings to full span, soaring skyward toward a vaguely Spielbergian moon, you’re in the kind of breathless awe that so few current cinematic superproductions are able to provide.
  8. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Dec 9, 2013
    80
    Sure, all the studios offer anymore are big, dumb adventure spectacles, but that's not a knock against the achievement of this one, which at least parades wonders before us, not the least being the greatest dragon in the history of movies.
  9. Reviewed by: Matt Maytum
    Dec 8, 2013
    80
    Despite suffering from middle-act wobbles, The Desolation Of Smaug nevertheless delivers rousing action, incredible visuals and one stupendous dragon.
  10. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Dec 6, 2013
    80
    The Desolation of Smaug is a cheerfully entertaining and exhilarating adventure tale, a supercharged Saturday morning picture: it's mysterious and strange and yet Jackson also effortlessly conjures up that genial quality that distinguishes The Hobbit from the more solemn Rings stories.
  11. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Dec 11, 2013
    78
    The Desolation of Smaug is, on the whole, a vast improvement over The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It’s a popcorn movie (in the best sense) disguised as deep-core nerdism.
  12. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Dec 12, 2013
    75
    The best of The Desolation of Smaug is saved for the last, when Bilbo goes to steal from the massive fire-breathing dragon, Smaug. The orange-eyed beast is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who, through a sludge of voice-altering electronics, seethes and preens between fiery exhalations; this scene is one of the few occasions in the film where anyone actually takes time to talk.
  13. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Dec 12, 2013
    75
    Second verse, same as the first, a little bit shorter and a little less worse.
  14. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Dec 12, 2013
    75
    That dragon represents the best and worst things about the film. He’s terrifying yet slightly droll.
  15. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Dec 12, 2013
    75
    At its best, Hobbit 2, which carries the subtitle The Desolation of Smaug, invites comparisons to Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" threesome.
  16. Reviewed by: Colette Bancroft
    Dec 12, 2013
    75
    Never mind the dwarves and elves and wizards — maybe even the hobbit. The star of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the dragon.
  17. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Dec 12, 2013
    75
    The second part of Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” trilogy goes a long way — and at 2 1/2 hours, I do mean long — toward righting the wrongs of the first movie, which was even longer.
  18. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Dec 12, 2013
    75
    Even though “Smaug” moves at a faster pace than the first part of the journey, it feels overlong. I still feel this whole Hobbit tale could have been told in one great, three-hour movie.
  19. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Dec 10, 2013
    75
    Look for Jackson’s cameo in the opening, which sets the tone. Call it another visual triumph for New Zealand’s vision of Middle Earth.
  20. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Dec 12, 2013
    70
    My advice to "Hobbit" fans is not only to see this one, but to see it as I did, in 3-D projected at the normal rate of 24 frames per second. The film will also be shown in what's called High Frame Rate 3-D, at 48 frames a second, but that made the last installment look more like video than a regular movie. Smaug is scary enough without a turbo boost.
  21. Reviewed by: Kerry Lengel
    Dec 11, 2013
    70
    For fantasy fans who have dreamed all their lives of spending time inside Tolkien’s dazzling alternative reality, it’s a ride well worth taking.
  22. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Dec 11, 2013
    70
    Jackson's latest go at Tolkien's treasured "Hobbit" story gets closer to that rich alchemy of fantasy, adventure, imagination and emotion that made his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy such a triumph.
  23. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Dec 6, 2013
    70
    After exhibiting an almost craven fidelity to his source material the first time out, Jackson gets the drama in gear here from the outset with a sense of storytelling that possesses palpable energy and purpose.
  24. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Dec 6, 2013
    70
    This robust, action-packed adventure benefits from a headier sense of forward momentum and a steady stream of 3D-enhanced thrills.
  25. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Dec 12, 2013
    67
    Some of the dwarves have nice individual moments, namely Balin (Ken Stott), Bofur (James Nesbitt), and Kili (Aidan Turner), and Gandalf gets to throw some potent magic around at Dol Guldur. But other than that (and the dragon itself), The Desolation of Smaug turns to be more of too much of a good thing.
  26. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Dec 11, 2013
    67
    This Hobbit is, in other words, a much more eventful affair than its year-old predecessor. And yet for all the fine spectacle Jackson crams into his lengthy sequel-within-a-prequel, it’s still hard not to mourn the single, self-contained movie that could have been.
  27. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Dec 12, 2013
    63
    Not only eight minutes shorter than its forebear, it's at least eight minutes better - less twee, less chatty, more action, more Elvish.
  28. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Dec 12, 2013
    63
    But, oh, that dragon. I'd endure another slog through Middle-Earth just to spend more time with Smaug.
  29. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Dec 11, 2013
    63
    There are things to like about the second Hobbit film - the director's vision of Middle Earth is as beguiling as ever - but the bloating that was a problem with An Unexpected Journey is an even bigger issue here.
  30. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Dec 13, 2013
    60
    Visually stunning.
  31. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Dec 12, 2013
    60
    There are, once again, too many busy, uninterestingly staged battles that lean heavily on obvious, sometimes distracting digital sorcery. But there are also pacific, brooding interludes in which the actors — notably Mr. Freeman, an intensely appealing screen presence — remind you that there’s more to Middle-earth than clamor and struggle.
  32. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Dec 12, 2013
    60
    Much of the bloat is still there, but The Desolation of Smaug, the second film in the Hobbit trilogy, is a real improvement – filled with inventive action set pieces and dramatic face-offs that we (finally, at long last, hallelujah!) care about.
  33. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Dec 11, 2013
    60
    It’s hard to fight the feeling that The Hobbit simply isn’t an epic story, and the efforts to expand it into one leave it feeling like an anvil crammed into a sock: The sock is taking on some weird shapes, and it’s being stretched awfully thin.
  34. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Dec 11, 2013
    60
    The cast, including Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lilly as warrior elves, is also excellent (though we don’t get even a glimpse of Andy Serkis’ Gollum). And individually, each escapade does hold its own thrills.
  35. Reviewed by: Eric D. Snider
    Dec 10, 2013
    60
    It’s merely somewhat better than last year’s meandering dud — a slight improvement on a movie that should have been pretty easy to improve upon.
  36. Reviewed by: Ian Buckwalter
    Dec 13, 2013
    55
    This all essentially serves to distract from the fact that all that really happens in the film is that the company manages to eventually reach the mountain.
  37. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Dec 13, 2013
    50
    When it's not stalled on silly, it falls into slog territory.
  38. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Dec 12, 2013
    50
    We were promised desolation, but “The Hobbit” just keeps dragon on.
  39. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Dec 12, 2013
    50
    Jackson has become too distracted by his digital toys to give his characters the same weight and importance he used in the Rings trilogy.
  40. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    Dec 7, 2013
    50
    A once-precious franchise's weakest installment, which forgets these adventures' magic was never conjured by bells and whistles.
  41. Reviewed by: Rodrigo Perez
    Dec 6, 2013
    50
    The Peter Jackson-directed Hobbit sequel might be the more vigorous, action-packed, darker and more (superficially) engaging version of the series thus far, but that doesn’t actually mean it’s a keeper of any sort.
  42. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    Dec 12, 2013
    40
    The second leg of Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien, is mostly stalling for time: two or three truly great sequences tangled up in long beards and longer pit-stops.
  43. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Dec 11, 2013
    38
    There are probably enough moments to satisfy hard-core fans, but for the rest of us, this amounts to the Middle Earth equivalent of “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones,’’ a space-holding, empty-headed epic filled with characters and places (digital and otherwise) that are hard to keep straight, much less care about.
  44. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Dec 12, 2013
    25
    Results are all that matter, and the result here is that The Desolation of Smaug fails in almost every way, as a story, as an adventure, as a piece of art direction and as a visual spectacle.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 1179 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 45 out of 298
  1. Dec 13, 2013
    10
    Enjoyed it thoroughly. Much better than the first one, it's not as action based as the LOTR series but that's not a bad thing. It sets its own pace and is more "adventurey". Makes me laugh where needed and was just a ton of fun to go for at launch night. Full Review »
  2. Dec 13, 2013
    5
    "Decent fantasy-action slightly inspired by The Hobbit"
    Most reviews will tell you what's so great about this movie and why it's worth
    watching, but I figured you should hear the other side of the story.

    First of all a small note for Tolkien fans. If you thought An Unexpected Journey strayed a bit too far from the book: The Desolation of Smaug looks like the script writers didn't even know there was a book. The movie tries hard to change the story wherever it can, reducing fan-favorite chapters to 5 minute scenes and writing new content that feels out of place.

    But it's not only bad if you've read the book. I really wonder what the target audience is, because it feels like it's written for 15 year old boys. There are random action scenes every 10 minutes and 'funny' decapitations every 30. The worst thing here is that the action comes at the cost of character development. You have a band of 13 Dwarfs and a Hobbit, yet you rarely see them interact.

    Now I like Elves more than Dwarfs, so I didn't mind seeing so much of them in this movie. But having them show up in every place to save the day feels wrong. Perhaps Peter Jackson thought his cast of Dwarfs wasn't good enough to create an enjoyable movie? Gandalf's scenes in Dol Guldur were an interesting addition in concept, but they are just too slow. I feel his scenes mostly serve as an attempt to raise The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings' level of epicness. And that just doesn't work.

    The story is full of illogicalities. How does entering the mountain to steal the Arkenstone to unite the Dwarfs to kill the Dragon to enter the mountain work exactly?? And remember that heartwarming last scene of An Unexpected Journey, where Thorin finally accepts Bilbo? Well, that's all gone again. Even though he keeps outsmarting all the Dwarfs, Bilbo is back to being an unappreciated 5th wheel of the party. And did the writers really think viewers would be so desperate for a love story that they'd enjoy an Elf and a Dwarf flirting it up? Their scenes feel forced and are painful to watch.

    Martin Freeman's acting is top notch again, but sadly he hardly gets any screen time. He only shines in his scene with Smaug. Now Smaug as a character is awesome, no complaints there. Yet most of his scenes are way too dragged out. There's a 20 minute scene with the Dwarfs running around thinking they can defeat him. Only at that point the movie already hinted at the only possible way of defeating him. Perhaps the worst aspect is that these scenes make Smaug look like an unintelligent creature. Dwarfs luring a Dragon around by going "Nana-nanana you can't catch me!" is not only silly and cliché, it's an insult to Smaug's character.

    Final complaint: the whole movie builds up to a scene.... that's apparently going to be the opening scene of movie 3. Nobody in the cinema was sure if the movie had ended, or there was just an awkwardly long pause when the screen went black.

    A movie like this you'll want to see, no matter how good or bad it is. You can't miss out on such a huge release, especially when it looks gorgeous in HFR 3D. But where I watched each Lord of the Rings movie 3 times in cinema, watching The Desolation of Smaug just once was enough for me.

    In the end, most problems of the movie seem to stem from the decision to turn the cute Hobbit tale into three epic movies that have to live up to the Lord of the Rings hype. It doesn't work.
    Full Review »
  3. Dec 13, 2013
    3
    I went into The Desolation of Smaug with low expectations and managed to be disappointed. Like many, I love The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but the prequel trilogy has yet to impress.

    That’s not entirely true. Peter Jackson’s cameo made me laugh out loud. I also loved the visuals. My only complaint with An Unexpected Journey’s visuals was that the orcs looked totally different than they did in the LotR movies. Thankfully, the orcs (with the exception of that pale fellow and his chum) are back to their old menacing look and feel.

    But TDoS does not impress in writing, acting, music, action sequences, or anything else.

    Writing: If I had taken a drink every time there was a dramatic pause followed by some God-awful, stupid line, I might have given this review a higher score on account of being too inebriated to catch all the uninspired writing and nonsensical plot filler that littered the last half of the movie.

    Acting: With how long this movie is, and with how much filler they squeezed in, it’s amazing to me that it never seemed like anyone had time to properly deliver a line of dialogue. Everything felt rushed. Questions bled into answers as if the characters knew what would be said before it was said. The emotions of the characters seemed either non-existent or so over the top that the viewer could not possibly relate.

    Music: I didn’t notice it until the very end when I thought, “There’s music playing, isn’t there?” Any LotR fan knows this is a bad thing.

    Action Sequences: These were my least favorite parts of the movie, and they took up about half of the time. I love a good action sequence when it’s done right. However, these are not. Half of the action was silly and cheesy, and the other half was boring (not quite half, actually, because I properly liked one bit of action: when that dwarf did a barrel roll, if you know what I mean). It was always predictable. “Predictable? That’s the nature of a prequel!” I hear you scream. Well then tell the writers to get the action over with fast so we can focus on, say, caring about the characters.

    Anything Else: Smaug was stupid; he looked cliche-dragon, sounded cliche-deep-voice, and acted like an enemy in a bad action movie (coincidence???). The movie strayed far from the book. I mean, I’m not the sort to bad-mouth a movie because it’s different from the book, but I am one to bad-mouth a movie that ruins everything it touches in the book. Which in this case is everything.
    Full Review »