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MY PRECIOUS: Ian McKellen returns in The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.

COURTESY WARNER BROS

MY PRECIOUS: Ian McKellen returns in The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (PG-13)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey wasn't just a long movie, it felt like one. Didn't we just finish watching it, like, last week? Perhaps the second chapter of Peter Jackson's three-film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic novel will pick up the pace a bit, despite a reported 170-minute running time. The cast of characters expands, with Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Gandalf (Ian McKellen), and the 13 dwarves now encountering the wary men of Lake-Town as well as hostile elves, with Orlando Bloom reprising his Lord of the Rings role as elfin archer Legolas. The biggest draw of The Desolation of Smaug, both figuratively and literally, will be the long-awaited, treasure-hoarding Smaug the dragon, with Benedict Cumberbatch providing the voice and motion-capture moves. (Since Cumberbatch plays Holmes to Freeman's Watson, it's like a "Sherlock" reunion in Middle-Earth.) (Opens December 13) — Curt Holman

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