The introductory episode in The Hobbit, like the first trilogy kick-starter Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, was boring and watered down by both uneven acting and special effects. Although the latest Hobbit entry cannot escape Tolkien’s looping pattern of battle, run, battle run, it does, unlike the above firsts, redeem its faults with two superior sequences.
First, the 13 dwarves cannot match the interest reaped by the Skin-Changer, giant spiders, and Orcs that comb the dark woods of Middle Earth. Furthermore, once the audience starts to get used to the 13, they inexplicably erupt into theological excitement as they enter Smaug’s lair and bark, “Hallelujah!” This comes shortly after the Orcs declare themselves legion, for they are many. It’s a fart in a zipped sleeping bag that stinks as bad as Ted Danson in Saving Private Ryan. It doesn’t go away easily. However, the first revealing of Sauron more than makes up for the latter vapor-rape. Watching Gandalf (Ian McKellen) crusade against the greatest evil is worth the price of admission.
Second, Smaug, as Nicki Minaj would tell you, is ditto as a mother-fucking monster. The brightest heavenly body on Earth, Benedict Cumberbatch, gives him the voice of a totalitarian despot. Peter Jackson’s previous CGI feats all dwarf in comparison to the haughty leviathan.
Watching Bilbo (Martin Freeman) coaxing Smaug, like Gandalf warring with Sauron, are what will keep everyone praying for more. Forget the other useless 120 minutes of padding with a few shots of brandy and miruvor afterwards. Consider it communion, if you will.