We're back in Middle Earth, and it feels good, even if it doesn't feel the same as our first trip. The 3-D is fine, although it breaks Jason's Rule of 3-D several times, it wasn't too distracting. Interesting, the HFR (High Frame Rate--48 frames/sec) which I thought looked weird all through THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY didn't bother me at all this time. And the story is really picking up, too. Peter Jackson took on the difficult job of adapting what is essentially a children's story and trying to fit it with the darker tone of his LORD OF THE RINGS movies (and the LOTR books.) And he does...an okay job. There's still an uneasy fit of silly slapstick and dark themes (including the introduction of a resurgent Sauron.) But it still a fun ride (often, quite literally looking like an amusement park ride) and Smaug in all his glory is pretty damn impressive. I still think he stretched things pretty far to get 3 movies out of the source material, but I'll be ready and eager for part 3 same time next year.
Oh, and we get to see Legolas many years before he appears in LORD OF THE RINGS. I want to know his fitness plan, because I swear he looks a decade younger than when we see him some 77 years later.
Running Time: 161 minutes
My Total Minutes: 346,589 (adjusted downward due to discovering an error in my record-keeping, I double-counted ~1500 minutes)