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"THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG" from Warner Brothers Studios (2D, 3D) opens Fri., Dec. 13, 2013.

STARRING: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lilly.

DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson ("The Lord of the Rings" trilogy; "King Kong" remake).

Synopsis: Part two of the amazing journey of Bilbo Baggins, the erstwhile Hobbit who, along with his friends must reclaim the lost dwarf kingdom of Erebor, which was long ago conquered by the dragon Smaug.

As one who actually preferred the Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings trilogy in print form, this is a very exciting day in the kingdom. Part one of this incredible trilogy is playing on the old telly at this moment and, in some markets, theaters are gearing up for special midnight shows of "The Desolation of Smaug". The film runs two hours forty-one minutes but who cares? It's every bit as good and, in some ways, better than "An Unexpected Journey".

Peter Jackson has developed such a magnificent way of bringing stories to life onscreen. The Rings trilogy, set ten years after the Hobbit, almost seem like practice for doing this trilogy. He definitely has gotten it down to an art and the result is visually satisfying beyond expectations. The dragon is quite likely the best creature in such a film ever. It's wondrous, spectacular, scary...everything a dragon should be. Let's hope director Gareth Edwards spent as much time developing his Godzilla if he wants to compete with this dragon.

No matter how many times you've read the book, it's safe to say you never imagined so much detail in your mind. Jackson doesn't miss a thing. This part of the story takes off much faster, making it seem better because the establishing scenes are all in Part One. Now, the story can flow (which it does) and the viewer has only to watch. That's the secret of a great sequel.

As for the film itself, Tolkien wrote it, Jackson filmed it, theater owners are running it. It's your part of the deal to go see it rather than read it here. Go on. Check online. Warm up the car. Make sure you've got cash enough for two tubs of popcorn. Drive carefully. Leave the kids at home. This is for the kid in you. Don't be late.

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