Where The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey felt a bit like molasses, its sequel is a fast-paced, action-packed return to J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy world of dungeons, dragons and dwarves, says CBC film reviewer Eli Glasner.

As arrows fly and heads roll in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, it feels like director Peter Jackson is finally enjoying himself — especially with the frenetic and fantastic action sequences.

As the tale returns to the titular Bilbo Baggins, wizard Gandalf, dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield and their merry band, a few new faces also join the fray.

Fair-haired elven prince Legolas (Orlando Bloom of The Lord of The Rings trilogy) turns up along with fellow elf warrior Tauriel, a controversial addition (created by Jackson and Fran Walsh) portrayed by Alberta's Evangeline Lilly. The female elf brings some spunk to The Hobbit boys' club, Glasner says.

Watch Glasner's review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in the attached video (shot in the tunnels of Toronto's Casa Loma).