I saw 'The Hobbit-The Desolation of Smaug' this week. It was great fun.

The movie is part two of a trilogy that is based on J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit,' along with his other writings, including 'Unfinished Tales.'

From the very beginning, we were treated to more detail as to Gandalf's travels and travails than was in the book. Director Peter Jackson added details (often from Tolkien's writing) to place the story of 'The Hobbit' firmly into the developing war that concludes in 'Lord of the Rings.' That aspect of the movie added so much to what might have otherwise been a simple retelling of the Hobbit on the big screen. And, I am sure the same treatment will happen in the final movie of the Hobbit trilogy.

The cliffhanger ending brought an outcry or two from the audience as they realized that we will now wait a year to truly see Smaug at his fearsome power.

Quick notes:

The spiders of Mirkwood were satisfyingly loathsome, the battle between orcs and elves during the 'barrel' scenes truly rocked, and the world of Middle Earth was real. Nice cameo from Peter Jackson, too.

I liked Gandalf portrayed as more of a raggedy man, since we see him early on his journey from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White in Lord of the Rings.

Bilbo proved his worth to the quest, but a revealing scene showed how he was already affected by the One Ring's power.

And now, The Dragon. The massive image (and the slow reveal), along with the voice - well done!

Before now, I viewed 'Dragonslayer's Vermithrax as the best 'live action' dragon on film. Now, it's Smaug (easier to spell, too!). Before now, I had put the late Richard Boone's voice of Smaug at the top of the list. Now, it's Benedict Cumberbatch.

Production notes: I saw the movie in HFR (High Frame Rate) Real 3D at the Pharaohoplex. HFR does change the visual feel of the film. At times, the interior shots unfortunately seemed like videotape, but generally everything seemed 'smoother.' The 3D effects were effective, immersing you in the scenes. That said, this film would be just fine in 2D, if for no other reason than you don't have to wear glasses. The glasses have always seemed to take me out of the 'theater experience.'

Make no mistake - this is a 'theater experience' movie. Go see it on the big screen.