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Peter Jackson, 2013


His source material is a slim and – compared with The Lord of the Rings – trifling adventure story but Peter Jackson’s achievement with his Hobbit trilogy thus far has been to spin out Tolkien’s book into something sustaining and substantial.

In this second instalment, the quest to reclaim the dwarfs’ lost kingdom from the dragon Smaug’s reign of fire seems at times more like a suicide mission, as the absurdly hirsute band of adventurers and Martin Freeman’s shrugging Bilbo are waylaid by giant spiders and ride rapids in fish barrels. Jackson also gives us, literally, the money shot, as we finally see Smaug writhing in his sea of treasure. A rip-roaring yarn in the old Hollywood tradition in which terror and laughter are never far apart.

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