ACTION HERO: In Smaug, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman, left) and a band of dwarves, including Óin (John Callen), are in constant action. © 2013 WARNER BROS. PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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On my way out of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, I ran into two older members of my church. Their reaction was identical: disappointment. “The movie was fine. But Tolkien seemed to get left behind a little.” I’m glad we still have some on this earth who care about the old tales.

In Smaug, the second in a planned trilogy of films based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s tale The Hobbit, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his band of dwarfs attempt to reclaim the throne of Erebor, an ancestral dwarf kingdom, from the dragon Smaug. Smaug and the nearest village of humans are in a state of détente—he won’t burn them up, and they won’t attack him. The dwarfs disturb this equilibrium and set the stage for the final film. Bilbo’s final words, “What have we done?” echoed in the theater as the audience exhaled for the first time since the film started.

 

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