This week's "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," with its lean narrative and formidable chase movie aesthetics, marks the return of the king (of the imaginative action sequence), Peter Jackson. The first "Hobbit," released just a year ago, was often leaden (our favorite review headline read "Bored of the Rings") and way overlong. "The Desolation of Smaug" is just as long but has considerably more pep in its oversized, hairy step.
There are a number of absolutely stunning action sequences in the sequel, one of which we will detail (but not too lovingly) here. Compared to the first "Hobbit," this sequel is like a breath of fresh air -- richly detailed and often thrilling. It made us think back to Peter Jackson, the young filmmaker that constantly surprised and delighted, every time he was behind the camera (especially in those early years). He might be known as a grand wizard of artful technological applications, but back in the day he was a Kiwi slinging phony blood at anyone who would step in front of his camera (including Michael J. Fox).
We'd now like to run down the 10 greatest action sequences in Peter Jackson's oeuvre, comprised of moments that had our eyes bulging out of our heads like in an old Tex Avery cartoon. These are the sequences that, when you get the Blu-ray of one of his films, you immediately pop on just to be wowed all over again. They are, unquestionably, the best of the best.