While promoting the DVD and Blu-ray release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (out now), cast members , , and had a lot to say about 's portrayal of Smaug, as well as the overall length of 's new take on the Tolkien classic.
As you can see in the first video below, most of the cast hasn't seen anything related to the dragon we're going to see in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. He was barely in the first film of the trilogy, after all. However, Serkis has some insight into what's going to make Cumberbatch's mo-cap performance stand out:
The second video has the cast addressing criticisms that An Unexpected Journey should have been shorter. Considering that the film has passed the billion dollar mark globally, I think audiences would generally disagree with this claim. However, the cast points out that Jackson needed to prove himself artistically at 48 frames per second in a trilogy, and Tolkein's story had to be fleshed out for the kids, which could have contributed to its questionable runtime.
Personally, I think most of the Hobbit fatigue had to do with Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy; we already had a heavy-handed dose of Middle-earth not so long ago. That being said, he's created one of the standout series of the 2000s. It's true what Serkis says, the original Lord of the Rings films were long, too. However, the difference was that those films defined a time and place, whereas these films -- no matter how great they are -- seem more like an afterthought or a way to cash in on the original trilogy's success. Perhaps that's why people might argue that the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey seemed too long, but I'd also be inclined to wonder how many of those people actually saw what was an overall pretty spectacular movie.