The Desolation of Smaug is actually a lot livelier than the first Hobbit installment, An Unexpected Journey. For one thing, there's nothing in it as fun-smothering as the endless hobbit-hole chow-down that opened the previous film. There's a lot more action this time, and at several points director Peter Jackson exceeds even his own very high standard in designing and executing it. Yet, Kurt Loder marvels that a story so simple should take nearly three friggin hours to tell it. For its part, American Hustle is a wannabe Scorsese movie, while Saving Mr. Banks is light on its feet and cleverly constructed.