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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Desolation’ has never been so entertaining

Bilbo turns tougher and more cunning and “The Hobbit” turns altogether more entertaining in “The Desolation of Smaug,” Peter Jackson’s livelier, funnier and action-packed middle film in his trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s slight delight of a novel. It looks more like a fantasy – fantastical, with more murk and the otherworldly light of those mass-produced Thomas Kinkade paintings. Characters feel more distinct, with Martin Freeman’s Bilbo making the transition from mere passenger on this dwarf’s quest “beneath the Lonely Mountain” to the brains of the motley crew.

‘Hobbit’ will be shot in New Zealand

“The Hobbit” will remain in New Zealand, ending a short but intense drama over where the expensive two-picture production would be filmed. After two days of talks with Hollywood executives, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced that his government had reached a deal with Warner Bros. to shoot the prequel to the “Lord of the Rings” films in the country.