The first instalment of The Hobbit trilogy was a rollercoaster of adventure. This second film is more sedate, only picking up in the middle and throughout the third act. Elf warrior Tauriel steals the show, Gandalf gets decent screen time, the swirling black cloud of Sauron is genuinely intimidating, and Bilbo takes a back seat. An unfathomably popular British TV personality delivers a solid performance in a minor role. CGI geeks may spot compositing glitches in many of the water scenes, but the design of Smaug the dragon is immaculate. Flaws aside, even at 2h41m, it’s all over too soon.