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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy occupy such a pinnacle that it's impossible for the new movies to reach the same heights.  But they're still very good.  The length is still very over-the-top, as the movies have still yet to justify splitting one pretty simple caper tale into three books.  But overall, this movie is better than the first one.  The meeting with Smaug, including his golden coating, is visually incredible.  The river chase scene is also rollicking fun, including the first time that I've ever laughed at a Lord of the Rings movie.  The changes from the books are generally good, if overblown.  The new female elf character is good, as is Gandalf's showdown at Dol Guldur with the Necromancer.  I'm more pleased with this one than the first one, though I have a feeling I'll gladly continue to lap up as much of Peter Jackson's reimagining of Tolkein as he'll ever make.

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