Last year, I told myself I would not come back to this trilogy. I thought that the first Hobbit film was to Lord of the Rings what the Star Wars prequel were to the original franchise. But perhaps time heals or time forgets, and there I was at the end of the year, sitting in the middle seats on the middle aisles of a surprisingly empty cinema, but not as empty as the film I just saw...*rimshot*

Ok so it wasn't that bad, but it was still a padded, unengaging, unsuspenseful addition to a trilogy that I still believe, and I believe most people agree, should have just been one 3 hour film. The amount of things that have nothing to do with the books in this film is even baffling to me, in particular the introduction of a love story that has zero connection to the book.

As usual the actors themselves do a decent job given the script and ridiculous scenarios they are put in, but there are far too many inconsequential action scenes where you know nothing is truly at stake. The increased focus on Thorin (played by Richard Armitage), the other dwarves, Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Legolas and that female elf love interest made me almost forget that there was a Hobbit in this film. Clever analogy to the character itself or thoughtless writing? I let you decide.

Smaug is quite impressive but not groundbreaking as both a character and a CGI project, and Benedict Cumberbatch being cast in that role is almost perfect. Moviegoers sure are getting a load of Cumberbatch this year. If anything good can be said about Peter Jackson today is that he still knows how to cast people in his films.

Overall, not as bad as the first in this franchise (that really should have been one film), but certainly still nothing but a shadow of the fantasy bench-marker that LOTR was to the genre, and a mediocre way to end 2013.

5.5 / 10.0

P.S. I am now on hiatus from films due to personal matters I need to attend to for a few months. Thanks to you who have journeyed with me this year. I hope to be able to keep my weekly or fortnightly movie night alive for as long as possible!

Joey out.