Much like its predecessor, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug has divided film critics, although most agree that it's an improvement on An Unexpected Journey, which was criticised for its lumbering pace. Digital Spy rounds up a selection of the reviews below...
Emma Dibdin - Digital Spy
"Where last year's An Unexpected Journey steered too structurally close to Fellowship and suffered by comparison, The Desolation of Smaug feels Ringsier in tone while forging entirely its own narrative path, marrying breathless action with shrewd character building."
Peter Bradshaw - The Guardian
"Jackson has shown that he is an expert in big-league popular movie-making to rival Lucas and Spielberg. His Smaug, with its fight scenes, chase spectaculars, creepy creatures and secret stone doors opening with a grinding noise, is something to set alongside the Indiana Jones films... Jackson depicts this fantasy world with style and gusto, and I'm looking forward to the third film already."
Keith Uhlich - Time Out London
"The Desolation of Smaug' shows Peter Jackson in an especially overabundant mood, orchestrating all manner of chaos like a master conductor unleashing his inner fanboy... Rising from beneath an ocean of coins like a scaly mutant version of Scrooge McDuck, Smaug taunts and stalks his terrified prey around the cavernous ruins of Erebor in the film's lengthiest, most purely pleasurable action sequence. By the time the beast finally spreads his wings to full span, soaring skyward toward a moon vaguely reminiscent of the one in 'E.T.', you're left in the kind of breathless awe that so few current cinematic superproductions are able to offer."
Justin Chang - Variety
"Still, "The Desolation of Smaug" reps a major improvement on its predecessor simply by virtue of picking up at a more eventful place in the narrative, and as scripted by the returning team of Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Guillermo del Toro (who was slated to direct at one point during "The Hobbit's" troubled production history), the film immediately evinces a livelier pace and a heightened sense of urgency."
Nick de Semlyen - Empire Online
"Middle-earth's got its mojo back. A huge improvement on the previous instalment, this takes our adventurers into uncharted territory and delivers spectacle by the ton. And in case you were wondering, yes, someone manages to say the title as dialogue."
Matt Maytum - Total Film
"If the tension and sense of epic questing is never as acute as it was in The Lord Of The Rings, there is at least plenty to enjoy. Held up against the series' high standards, it's not without issues, but it remains a cut above standard blockbuster fare. And frankly, there's little excuse needed for the chance to return to Peter Jackson's still magically realised Middle-earth, the unrivalled environments – from cobweb- draped woods to the sprawling palatial branches of the Elves kingdom – retaining the power to elicit gasps."
Robbie Collin - The Telegraph
"The tone is one hundred percent Jackson – a kind of thundering gloominess, cut with the occasional glint of Discworld mischief. Jackson and his co-writers, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, have decapitated bodies twitching on the ground, and a captured dwarf leering at a female elf: "Aren't you going to search me? I could have anything down my trousers." Maybe this really is what a lot of people want to see from a film version of The Hobbit, but let's at least accept that Tolkien would probably not have been among them."
Rodrigo Perez - The Playlist
"The truth is, audiences are going to approve of this sequel. It's entertaining, it's engaging and it's got thrills, but all at the expense and to the detriment of what stories, narrative and filmmaking should be about. See you at the next chapter."
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug in pictures: