Tablet Life & Arts

New on DVD: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ starring Ian McKellen

DVD The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug : Sleeping dragons, as we know from our childhood literature, eventually awaken. If they didn’t, there wouldn’t be a story. So it’s hardly news that in the second installment of Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” trilogy, the dragon rouses from his slumber. What is news: The franchise wakes up, too. Die-hard fans might disagree, but to many, the first film, last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, took too long to get going and then dragged for much of its 169 minutes. Smaug is not much shorter but it feels brisker, lighter, funnier. The characters are more varied, more interesting; we’ll take a comic turn by the entertaining Stephen Fry over another Orc any day. There is even an added romantic subplot. It all comes down to the climactic confrontation with the dragon. Unfortunately, the film sags somewhat here. It’s fun to hear Benedict Cumberbatch, as Smaug, hurl seething epithets at Bilbo. Still, they could have shortened this confrontation. But what’s 20 minutes when you’re taking nine hours to tell a story? Onward to the third installment. On DVD, DVD Special Edition, and Blu-ray.

Also new: Grudge Match; August: Osage County; Snake & Mongoose; Justin Bieber’s Believe; Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones; A Field in England; Cocaine Cowboys Reloaded

— Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service