The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

As someone who’s always felt alienated by the myth-making of Wagner and Tolkien, I’m hardly one to say whether Peter Jackson’s big-screen adaptations of The Hobbit succeed in conveying the spirit of the book. I can say, though, that Jackson’s bloated, hollow spectacle feels closer to a theme park attraction than to narrative filmmaking. Like The Hobbit: The Journey Begins (2012), this second installment opens with an hour of perfunctory exposition and continues with nearly another two of nonstop sensory stimulation. The chaotic action, amped-up sound effects, and needlessly intricate CGI landscapes (which are less convincing than traditional sets or even the hand-drawn backdrops of Disney classics) wore me out well before the movie was over. With Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, and Benedict Cumberbatch.