The first part of the trilogy ended with Smaug the dragon opening one eye, but it takes more than 100 minutes before we get to see him in this sequel, the ‘extra’ part created to turn the planned diptych into a triptych. If you ask me, they had better stuck to the original plans. This second entry feels too much like an entr’acte to be fully successful; it's still enjoyable, but it's hard to escape this feeling of redundancy and déja vu. The first half is needlessly drawn-out, offering far too many Orcs, those stupid creatures that are killed by the dozens and never manage to kill one of the dwarves or elves. Suckers. You wonder why anybody’s afraid of them.
But okay, the film grossed more than $950 million worldwide and no-one wants to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, right? Money makes the dwarves go round, and round. And yes, there’s some good news too: the character of Tauriel, the Robina Hood of the Elves, created for the series to fill a few narrative gaps, is both sexy and fun, and Lake Town, a sort of dreamland version of Bangkok, is an almost unbelievable creation by the SFX/CGI-department. Thanks to the dragon the story picks up in the last 45 minutes, but then, all of a sudden, it all ends with the enormous cliffhanger of Smaug flying out to wreak havoc on Lake Town. I understand the film makers wanted to be sure that people buy a ticket for the third installment, but this type of anti-climactic endings feel like cheating.